THE TITANIUM COLLECTION
The ‘Sky-Moon’ is typically known to Patek Philippe enthusiasts under reference 5002, yet the present watch shines a new light into the development of the model. This unique 5001T wristwatch features several design elements that set it apart from its well-known successor, the Ref. 5002 ‘Sky Moon’. These include a bespoke dial configuration and case design. A summary of the major differences are given below:
• Titanium case
• Broad satin finished bezel with Roman numerals
• ‘Basket weave’ dial without applied numerals
• ‘Basket weave’ case sides
• Celestial chart with non-standard elliptical sky view
• Celestial chart with full, un-abbreviated cardinal points
• Movement number and ‘tourbillon’ writing concealed from month dial
• Sidereal time without numerals for 11, 12, 13
At first glance, one is immediately impressed by the 5001’s bold titanium case, which lends a surprising lightness to an otherwise extremely heavy watch. The broad bezel with engraved Roman numerals and ‘basket weave’ case sides lend the watch an entirely different character to its cousin, the 5002. The 5001’s dial does not have hourly applied numerals and this accentuates the handsome, red retrograde date sector which takes over the dial’s edge. Another interesting detail is the lack of movement number to the subsidiary month dial – on the reference 5002, the watch’s movement number is printed to the dial. The ‘basket weave’ pattern to the case sides is repeated to the main body of the dial and again adds to the 5001’s unique character – interestingly the 5002 features Calatrava crosses to the case band and dial. When viewing the 5001’s sky chart, one is instantly struck by the cardinal points which are unabbreviated: East, North, West, South – the 5002 instead has the letters E, N, W, S in their place. As ‘South’ is written out in full within the Sidereal time calibrations at the edge of the dial on the 5001, the numerals for the Sidereal hours of 11, 12 and 13, are not shown – on the 5002’s celestial chart dial, ‘South’ is simply marked ‘S’ and only replaces the Sidereal time’s 12 o’clock numeral, that of 11 and 13 both being present.
The ‘Sky-Moon’ movement is registered by Patek Philippe as calibre RTO 27 QR SID LU CL and, with 12 complications and 686 parts, is the most complex Patek Philippe movement ever to be designed and incorporated into a wristwatch. However, Patek Philippe’s motivation for designing the ‘Sky-Moon’ was less about the number of complications and was instead focused on incorporating the most pleasing and exciting horological complications into a single, elegantly constructed timepiece. The Sky Chart with its orbiting moon is without doubt one of the most visually pleasing and intricate horological complications ever seen. The chart takes its inspiration from the legendary Patek Philippe Star Calibre which Patek Philippe revealed in 2000 and which itself drew inspiration from three other Patek Philippe behemoths, the Packard no.198.023, Henry Graves Supercomplication no.198.385 (completed in 1932 and re-sold at Sotheby’s New York, December 1999) and the Calibre 89, released to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Patek Philippe in 1989. The Sky-Moon’s sky chart of the northern hemisphere rotates counter-clockwise beneath a sapphire crystal with a golden ellipse that frames the part of the sky visible from a specified location and displays the motion of the stars, the meridian passages of Sirius and the moon and the waxing and waning of the moon phases. The edge of the sky chart’s dial is calibrated for sidereal time in 24-hours.
The extreme precision and complexity of the display is breathtaking and, when Ref. 5002 was revealed for the first time in a wristwatch at the 2001 Basel Fair, it created a sensation among the horological community. A complementary piece to the Ref. 5002, the Ref. 6002G, was unveiled in 2013. The watch features apertures for the perpetual calendar instead of hands with a blue grand feu enamel dial, all within a heavily engraved gold case.
Chiming watches have always amazed and delighted the user and remain one of the most coveted of complications. The wristwatch poses a particular challenge since, unlike the pocket watch, its relatively small size does not naturally allow for the production of a chime that is clear, loud and strong. However, prior to the Sky-Moon’s production, Patek Philippe had consulted intensively with metallurgists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. The result was the production of an extremely refined alloy that allowed for extended gongs which produced an especially long and resonant chime within the wristwatch case; these gongs are known as ‘cathedral gongs’. It is fascinating to note the tonal subtleties of the chiming in a titanium case.
The perpetual calendar is, of course, another highly desirable complication and so it is no surprise that the Sky-Moon incorporates this feature to its front dial. However, the complexity of the perpetual calendar on this watch is enhanced by the addition of a large retrograde date sector that forms an arc from 2 o’clock to 10 o’clock. At the end of each month, no matter the number of days, the date indicator will automatically jump across the dial to show the 1st of the following month.
In order to compensate for positional errors while the watch is worn, the movement incorporates yet another horological marvel, this time in the form of a tourbillon. Today the tourbillon is another of the most desired elements in ultra complicated watches and the Sky-Moon’s tourbillon comprises 69 individual parts alone. In the Sky-Moon, this complication is given another layer of complexity by the placement of the balance wheel and fourth wheel on one axis. This is a layout that is hard to accommodate but which allows for a more effective deployment of the tourbillon’s principles.
Undoubtedly one of the most important contemporary wristwatches in existence, this unique Ref. 5001 offers an extremely rare opportunity to own a truly distinct Grande Complication wristwatch representing the pinnacle of fine watch making. The Ref. 5001T achieves the monumental task of exceeding even the Ref. 5002 in its horological importance. Without a doubt, the Ref. 5001T represents the most important complicated wristwatch thus far of the Third Millennium.
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