Insider: Patek Philippe Annual Calendar ref. 5396G-014. Hands-on with a Timeless and Perfectly Designed Timepiece.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of their patented Annual Calendar, Patek Philippe released a new model during Baselworld 2016 earlier this year. The new Patek Philippe Annual Calendar ref. 5396G-014 is now offered in a subtly reworked and refined version that logically complements the 21 previous models that have been presented since 1996, not to mention the eclectic gold and platinum variations with different dial designs. The new Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Ref. 5396 is available in a 38.5 mm 18K white gold with a charcoal grey sunburst dial or in 18K rose gold with a silvery white opaline dial. Both models of the Patek ref. 5396 look familiar yet at the same time appear to be totally new.

Familiar because of the style elements that have been appreciated for years, and new because these elements have never before been combined in this way. The first element is the shape of the case with its inimitable Calatrava personality, another beautifully refined facet that dates back to the Ref. 96 in 1932, when the Bauhaus "form follows function" principle was memorialized in horology. Its success was so persuasive that the Calatrava today is deemed the archetype of all classic round watches. In the new ref. 5396 Annual Calendar, the round of the case also merges gracefully with the strap lugs, and a smoothly polished bezel frames the dial. The sapphire crystal glass is prominently cambered, endowing the watch with volume and a highly modern look.

The Dial

The dial this time in a beautiful charcoal grey, perfectly reflects the timelessness of this watch with the familiar indications of this reference subtly refined and recombined. One of these indications is the in-line double aperture in the upper half of the dial that displays the day of the week on the left and the month on the right. The date display of the Ref. 5396 is positioned in a large aperture at 6 o'clock.

Together with the double aperture, it frames the 24 hour subsidiary dial with the moon phase display in the lower half of the dial to assure a visually balanced configuration. This layout is reminiscent of Patek Philippe perpetual calendars from the 1940s and 1950s, which regularly fetch top prices at auction. The main difference between the new ref. 5396G-014 and its predecessors is that the position of the analog date scale in the historic models is now occupied by the 24-hour indicator which doubles as a day/night indication.

But what makes this new Annual Calendar ref. 5396 more special when compared to the two previous iterations of this reference is the appearance of Breguet numerals instead of baton minute markers.

While the white gold cabochon minute track has been maintained from the previous models, these Breguet numerals bring the watch to a higher level. To round out the classic and timeless design of the dial, the watch is fitted with 18K white gold dauphine hands. As sleek and clean cut the dauphine hands may appear, they rank among the more challenging styles when it comes to its craftsmanship. Their sharp center ridges and the polished bevel flanks that taper into the tips will forgive neither the slightest tolerance deviations in production nor a misstep when the hands are fixed to the arbors.

The Movement

The beating heart powering the new Patek Philippe ref. 5396G-014 is the automatic movement calibre 324 S QA LU 24H/303. This movement composed of 347 parts and 34 jewels provides a power reserve of 45 hours while beating at a frequency of 28,800 vph. Additionally, the date and month indications only need to be manually corrected once a year at the transition from February to March, but this task takes only seconds, thanks to the small correctors in the caseband. The moon phase display requires even less attention. Thanks to its precise reduction wheel train, an adjustment by one day is needed only once every 122 years. This deviation is irrelevant in the course of a generation. But it does suggest h ow meticulously the movement was crafted.

On the Wrist & Pricing

This new Patek Philippe ref. 5396G-014 is fitted on a gorgeous matte black hand-stitched alligator strap with square scales and Calatrava fold-over clasp in 18K white gold. On the wrist, the watch wears slightly bigger than its actual size and more like a 39 mm watch. As far as looks and wrist presence, this is Patek Philippe to the max. Definitely a must have in any well-curated Patek collection.

Sticker Price $47,900 USD. For more info on Patek Philippe click here.