The Patek Philippe Grand Complication 5159R takes two longstanding traditions of the brand–the officer’s watch case and complicated watchmaking–and brings them together in one stunning timepiece. Let’s go hands-on with the Patek Philippe 5159R.
What is an Officer’s Watch?
An officer’s watch features a style reminiscent of the trench watches (a pocket watch converted into a wristwatch with the addition of lugs and a strap for soldiers to wear on their wrists) from WWI. There are a few defining characteristics of a Patek Philipe officer’s watch.
The first is that it must include a hinged dust cover on the back of the case. This means that the caseback is protected by a solid metal shield during normal wear on the wrist. However, when desired, the curtain can be pulled back for a view of the stunning mechanical movement working away inside the watch.
Another signature detail of an officer’s watch is the style of the lugs, which are soldered on and include screws instead of spring bars to hold the strap in place. Again, this echoes how military men found a way to wear their timepieces on their wrists rather than stored deep in their pockets.
Finally, officer watches typically have oversized onion-style winding crowns, reminiscent of those found on vintage pocket watches.
Patek Philippe Grand Complication 5159R
The Patek Philippe Grand Complication 5159R made its debut in 2007. It sports a 38mm 18k rose gold officer’s style case with the obligatory dust cover on the back. Rather than being a flat watch, the ref. 5159 is delightfully curvy on all side, giving some heft and presence to the timepiece on the wrist.
As a Grand Complication watch (a term used to describe the merging of several watch complications into one timepiece), the ref. 5159 is a perpetual calendar with a retrograde hand. The perpetual calendar means that the watch not only indicates the time, day, date, month, leap year, and moonphase, but that it adjusts automatically at the beginning of each month with no help from the wearer. It takes great skill to build a mechanical perpetual calendar mechanism that can differentiate between months with 28, 29, 30, and 31 days, not to mention years with 365 or 366 days.
Along with the perpetual calendar mechanism, the Patek Philippe Grand Complication 5159R also boasts a retrograde date hand. The retrograde date hand moves along a 270- degree arc at the center of the dial, and at midnight of the last day of the month, it jumps back to the numeral 1 to start all over again.
While the ref. 5159 packs plenty of information, the opaline white dial remains easy to read and in true Patek fashion, is exquisitely finished. The very center of the dial includes a radial hand-guilloché finish, while the contrasting Roman numerals for hours and Arabic numerals for minutes/seconds add an intriguing detail touch. The day and the month are displayed via small windows at 9 and 3 o’clock, respectively. The leap year cycle is also shown through a small aperture but positioned just under the retrograde date display and the beautiful moon phase disk is placed just above 6 o’clock.
Patek Philippe Caliber 315 S QR
Powering the Patek Philippe Grand Complication ref. 5159R is the Caliber 315 S QR. A self-winding movement thanks in part to the 21K gold rotor, the Cal. 315 S QR offers a power reserve ranging from 38 to 48 hours.
In case the Patek ref. 5159 is off the wrist for more than two days and runs out of power, adjusting the calendars is done by pressing the following corrector buttons with a stylus.
- Between 11 and 12 o’clock, simultaneous day and date correction
- Between 3 and 4 o’clock, month correction
- Between 5 and 6 o’clock, moon-phase correction
- Between 6 and 7 o’clock, separate day correction
A fantastic vintage-inspired, yet modern, timepiece, the Grand Complication ref. 5159R perfectly illustrates why so many consider Patek Philippe to be the most prestigious watch brand in the world.