World of Patek Philippe

Anecdotes, background and insights from the world's foremost watch brand


Philip Barat, Director Research & Development

Mr Barat, it is said: The watch has been invented, all the options played out. Why is that not true?
New technologies are enabling us to build more compactly and precisely. This in turn is making watches slimmer and even more reliable. With regard to the display, all kinds of complications for the time indications have been invented; what’s new is how they are combined, such as with the World Time Minute Repeater (Ref. 5531R), which always chimes the local time.

With the Ref. 5236P (see text on the far right) and the in-line date, you’ve created a first. Why was this new complication so difficult to manufacture? After all, they already existed in “L’Americaine”? The challenge is to adapt a mechanism from a large pocket watch to the limited volume of a wristwatch. We had to completely redevelop the movement. What was most difficult about this was that for the perpetual calendar, which is already complicated enough, about a hundred more components had to be accommodated.


Which model do you most like to wear and why?
Going out, eating out, travelling, meeting our partners and clients: I miss the personal contact; it’s essential!

What is your big goal for 2021?
I like my annual calendar (Ref. 5035P); it’s a simple and useful complication. And a touch of nostalgia is involved too: it was the first development I had the pleasure of presenting to the R&D team at Patek Philippe over 25 years ago.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5035P


... Patek Philippe owes the excellent reputation of its enamel watches above all to Suzanne Rohr? The artist worked exclusively for the Geneva manufacture for over fifty years and created such touchingly beautiful miniatures as “Mother and Child” (brooch watch from 1970) with an exact eye and a steady hand. Incidentally, Suzanne Rohr was discovered by the other legendary Patek Philippe enameller, Carlo Poluzzi. She was one of his students at the École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva.

Taschen Uhr Patek Philippe Suzanne Rohr
Patek Philippe Suzanne Rohr
Exceptional artist Suzanne Rohr.

Ref. 5236P: The essence

However simple and plausible good design may seem, it is usually the product of complex processes. This is especially true for the Ref. 5236P: Patek Philippe’s new Perpetual Calendar presents the day, date and month all on one line in a single large window – a first in watchmaking. To make the supposed technical impossibility possible, Patek Philippe invested several years in the development of the 31-260 PS QL mechanical movement and the additional module for the display. Three patents have been registered for it. Incidentally, the inspiration for this milestone was “L’Americaine”: the pocket watch Ref. 725/4 from 1972 from the Patek Philippe Museum.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5236P: Die Essenz
Served as inspiration: Ref. 725/4.

Beyer Chronometrie