The Most Complicated Patek Philippe Wristwatch: Patek Philippe 5002 Sky Moon Tourbillon
In 2023, a watch enthusiast can be forgiven for underestimating the Patek Philippe 5002 Sky Moon Tourbillon. While other luxury watchmakers have catalogs full of complex products, Patek Philippe's own catalog is surprisingly full of extraordinary feats of mechanical engineering. This wasn't always the case.
From the initial launch in 1941 of the 1518 perpetual calendar chronograph till 1989, the Jubilee year of Patek Philippe, the brand only released simple wristwatches, and that worked.
The total amount of minute repeaters, Split-Seconds chronographs, and tourbillon watches sold by Patek and the whole industry was around single digits to low double digits each year. Complicated watches were not common, and it would require discussions and meetings if the buyer wanted something more than a perpetual calendar or a chronograph.
Before 1989, Patek Philippe too had its focus on simple watches. During this time, Audemars Piguet was known to be the most high-profile source for innovations in calendar and tourbillon watches. This was to such an extent that no manufacturer of wristwatches but Gerald Genta was renowned in this field.
THE END OF AN ERA AND THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ONE
Here comes the Calibre 89. Five years of development and the end result was something quite special. Double dialed and sized like a grapefruit, the Calibre 89 was only used in four watches, but it cemented Patek Philippe as an occasional source of magnificent complicated timepieces.
With that, the 1990s started. The ref. 3974 perpetual calendar tourbillon gained fame in the 90s, although released in 1989. In 1992, we saw the launch of the ref. 5013, and in 1993, the ref. 3939, and the ref. 5016. In 1996, we saw the launch of the first-ever Patek Philippe perpetual calendar split-seconds chronograph, the ref. 5054.
At the end of a hot decade of complicated watchmaking, Patek Philippe launched the new Millennium with the Star Calibre 2000. It was one of the most complicated Patek Philippe of all time, coming in at third just behind the Calibre 89 and the 24-function Henry Graves Supercomplication. The Star Calibre was the only one on this list to have a proper wristwatch spin-off.
This was a spectacular spin-off, the Patek Philippe 5002 Sky Moon Tourbillon.
THE PATEK PHILIPPE 5002 SKY MOON TOURBILLON
It was initially launched in platinum in the 2001 model. The 12-complication metal megalith mirrored the dual-dial Star Calibre both aesthetically and technically.
The first dial features a moon phase indicator and a perpetual calendar in addition to a retrograde date display. The simple plain text on the sundial for the months allows a tourbillon regulator within the case.
The secondary dial has a sky chart which dominates the proceedings with the image of the northern hemisphere night sky. This shows the moon phase and its relative position in the sky. A simple hour and minute hand at the center all follow a 24-hour time format for contrast with the sidereal day shown by the sky chart.
The sidereal time is represented by the "S" at the base of the dial. Meanwhile, solar time is measured in terms of complete 24-hour rotations of the Earth. The mean solar time, featured on the front dial, is the time the watch is at noon.
The dial's aesthetic of the 5002P is absolutely brilliant; Guilloche, in the form of small Calatrava crosses, pays tribute to the corporate symbol of Patek Philippe. Applied white gold numerals and hands add an abundance of flourish at the top of the gorgeous créme-tinted dial base. Gold silvers are used to show the moon's phases.
Each 5002, doesn't matter which material, features a set of circumferential engravings. A repeating signature Calatrava cross pattern echoes the dial while girdling the 42.8 mm humidity and dust-resistant case.
Two crowns are also present; one at four sets the primary dial, while the one at two sets the celestial dial. It is significant to mention that although it has two dials, the 5002 is not a reversible watch.
This beast of a watch is powered by stemwinder: R TO 27 QR SID LU CL. Everything about this watch is world-class.
Patek Philippe is known to be one of the best innovators in the world currently. Although this was not always the case, we have seen some incredible pieces of highly technical and complicated watches come out of the Swiss powerhouse. The ref. 5002 paved the way for watches like the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime, among others. Its significance and importance to the brand can not be undermined, and certainly not when you look at how the brand quickly became one of the top manufacturers after the release of this beauty.