Every man should have at least one great dress watch in his collection; that one classic timekeeper that he turns to when it’s time to negotiate a big deal or embark on a special night out. The watch should be subtle but distinctive in its style, conveying a succinct message as to the inherent classiness of its owner without screaming for attention. In other words it should be understated, balanced and just a little bit complicated.
As I am sure you will agree there are many watches that potentially meet the aforementioned requirements and so choosing one inevitably will come down to a matter of personal taste. After all, it is important, nay critical, that this watch reflects your personality and unique style. As such it is imperative that you don’t rush this particular decision. Instead take your time, do some research, maybe even road test several different models from multiple brands to really get a feel for what it is that you are really looking for.
Of course there is one brand that stands apart from all the rest in this particular field and that brand is Patek Philippe. Considered by many to be the greatest watch manufacturer in the world, a dress watch from Patek Philippe is arguably the most prestigious accessory a man can wear. That’s why today we are taking a closer look at modern-day classic from the brand that boasts a very impressive lineage; the Patek Philippe Ref 5059.
The Patek Philippe Ref. 5059
As the direct descendant of the highly collectible Patek Philippe Ref 5050 I think it’s fair to say that the Patek Philippe Ref 5059 channels three generations of greatness. After all, the lineage of Ref. 5050 – itself a gorgeous perpetual calendar – can be traced all the way back to one of Patek Philippe’s best known watches, the Ref 5016 tourbillon perpetual calendar automatic, both of which you may have guessed are now highly sought after by collectors (the latter of which will run you well over half a million dollars for a good example, assuming you can find one that is.) To fully appreciate the beauty of the Ref 5059 though I think it’s important to understand a little more about the timepieces that inspired it.
Featuring a perpetual calendar with retrograding date, tourbillon, and a minute repeating mechanism, the Ref 5016 was Patek Phillipe’s most complicated wristwatch until the release of Ref 5002, the Sky Moon Tourbillon. Thanks to its understated style however you would probably be hard-pressed to pick one out in a crowd unless you were a well-versed aficionado of the brand. The tourbillon for example is not visible on the dial side and the only indication that there is a minute repeater is the sliding pusher on the left-hand side of the case.
That same sense of balanced, understated style carried through to design of the Ref 5050, which was produced in the 1990s and featured a perpetual calendar, retrograde date display, leap year and phases of the moon. Once again all the complications were laid out in an attractive, easy-to-read manner striking that delicate balance between practicality and sophistication. Following in this same vein comes the Ref 5059.
The specific model we are looking at today was manufactured in 2000 and is presented in a 36mm x 12.8mm, three-part, 18k white gold Officer’s case (more on than in a minute). Admittedly it is a little on the small side – by modern day standards anyway – but the thickness more than makes up for this and it really does wear nicely on the wrist. As with the Ref 5050, the Patek Philippe Ref 5059 boasts several complications, including a perpetual calendar, retrograde date display, leap year and phases of the moon. All of which are laid out in the trademark style pioneered by the Ref 5016 and Ref 5050.
The porcelain white dial of the Patek Philippe Ref 5059 has something of a vintage feel to it, inspired in large part by its previously discussed heritage. Prominent roman numerals are responsible for indicating the hours, whilst the minutes and seconds tracked on the two smaller outer chapter rings. Unusually for a perpetual calendar it features a central sweep seconds hand. Three small apertures at 9 o’clock, 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock display the day, leap year and month respectively. The date meanwhile is shown on an inner chapter ring indicated via a retrograde hand that seamlessly flies back to its starting position at the end of each month. Finishing things off nicely at the bottom is the moon-phase display which adds just enough contrasting color to the dial to attract attention without seeming out of place.
Beating inside is the Caliber 315/136, which has been stamped with the prestigious Geneva Seal. This same movement was also used in the Ref 5050 however unlike that model the Patek Philippe Ref 5059 is presented in an Officer’s case (also known as hunter-style) which means it features a hinged caseback. Simply use your thumb to flip it open and you can appreciate the movement, complete with gold rotor in all its glory.
Best of all the Patek Philippe Ref 5059 is not quite as collectible at the Ref 5050 yet (the Ref 5016 is of course in a collecting category all of its own) and so it is still possible to find good examples for around the $40k – $60k mark. That being said the Ref 5059 is increasingly becoming a must-have for many collectors which means inevitably prices will go up, meaning this is not only a great dress watch, it could also be a great investment.