The perpetual calendar chronograph is Patek Philippe’s flagship complicated wristwatch. The combination of the perpetual calendar and chronograph complications was invented by Patek Philippe with the reference 1518 and was considered by Mr. Stern himself to be a horological breakthrough. The model was a first for Patek and ushered in a new watchmaking era as it would become the first serially produced complicated watch in the industry—previously, watches this complicated were done on commission. This started a legacy of Patek producing the finest perpetual calendar chronographs on the market that continues to this day, and leads to our topic at hand as well—the Patek Philippe 5270G-013. Evidence of its status at the top of the horological universe, the Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph has appeared on the cover of more auction catalogs than any other timepiece. Hell, it’s also the cover photo for the blog your reading right now.
What we’re looking at specifically today is the Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph 5270G-013—the second generation of the modern reference 5270. The 5270 not only carries the torch of this legendary group but asserts itself as one of the most important models in the perpetual calendar chronograph line since the 1518. It is the first with an in house designed and manufactured caliber in the 29-535PSQ.
Beautifully finished as expected, the 29-535PSQ is the culmination of seven decades of experience and is one of if not the best perpetual calendar chronograph movements ever made. This high-level engineering translates to you as a wearer being able to see the phase of the moon, leap year indication, am/pm indication, hours, seconds, minutes, and chronograph time elapsed up to 30 minutes and down to fifths of a second. Years and fractions of a second, measured and read all with a flick of your wrist.
The 41mm case—which is the largest Patek has used for a perpetual calendar chronograph—is very architectural and segmented. The concaved bezel is a detail you don’t often see, and here it has the effect of putting the crystal on a pedal stool. The standout detail, however, is the sharp angular lugs. They’re distinctly shaped and protrude off the case like gargoyles on a Gothic building and give the watch a confident, almost aggressive look. The pairing of the white gold case with the opaline dial is gorgeous, and while not as trendy as the blue dial variant, I think this version is more classic, and I prefer it.
The movement and case are shared across all 5270’s, but some key differences separate the 5270G-013. Produced for two years, from 2013 to 2015, this short-lived second generation reference 5270 is collectible and controversial. The controversy is rooted in how the tachymeter scale was implemented. While the tachymeter overall was welcomed as something that was missing from the first generation 5270, the recessed “chin” as it’s called at six o’clock is a hotly debated point of contention both for its form and function.
While some bemoan the chin based on looks, others argue it also functionally hurts the watch as it’s hard to tell precisely which second the chronograph hand has stopped at if one happens to stop it between 27 and 33 seconds. Personally, I think it’s cute and makes the dial more interesting. Also, while it might be hard to tell the exact time between 27 and 33 seconds, it’s not impossible to do with this second-generation 5270, but on the “chinless” first and third-generation models, it is.
Some smaller uncontroversial updates include updating the hands and hour markers from black-oxidized gold to white gold. Matching the hands and hour markers to the case material was the right move, and I think further cements the watch’s timeless look. Also, we see a smaller and more elegant Patek Philippe logo and subtly recessed subdials that now include railroad-track scales. Overall I much prefer the updates to the second generation over the first chin and all.
As always, it’s the tiniest details that make or break a watch, and ultimately, the decision is a personal one. While divisive, I think this opaline dial 5270G-013 has all the makings of a future grail. With this watch, you have a version of Patek Philippe’s flagship timepiece produced for a very short period with a design feature that inspires heated watch nerd debates and has its own nickname, chef’s kiss. I can’t think of a better recipe for making a collectible wristwatch.