The Patek Philippe 5101 ten-day tourbillon isn’t good: it’s not notably shock tolerant, there’s no lume, and one might fault its 25-meter water resistance. However most essential of all, I can’t afford it.
That’s it; I can’t broadly critique a watch so ravishing it ought to include a parental warning and an age advisory. Since its supernova 2003 debut, the 5101 has established a towering repute that’s, if something, inadequate to convey the eye-watering magnificence and milestone standing of this sinuously formed machine. I’ve recorded movies of not less than 7,000 watches and rely the 5101 in all of its varieties among the many handful which have impressed me most.
Patek Philippe Reference 5101: premise
The 5101 launched because the platinum 5101P in 2003. On the time, it was an outrageous assertion of competence by Patek Philippe. Take into account the ten-day energy reserve alone. Early on this century, Rolex, A. Lange & Söhne, Blancpain, and F.P. Journe had achieved three-, three-, four-, and five-day energy reserves respectively. On the time, IWC’s seven-day Caliber 5000 was the gold normal with seven days of autonomy, nevertheless it got here on the worth of significant timekeeping compromises on the extremes of its mainspring wind.
Patek Philippe had better ambitions. In a market phase the place haute horlogerie manufacturers had been – and stay – loath to make particular claims about accuracy, every 5101P was an formally C.O.S.C.-certified Swiss chronometer. In contrast to the single-mainspring IWC, which might acquire tens of seconds in a single day when totally wound and lose as many when low on power, Patek Philippe’s Caliber 28-20/222 was designed to stay isochronous for just about all of its autonomy. Patek Philippe adopted the dual serially working mainspring barrels from its Reference 5100 “manta ray” chronometer, which made its debut in 2000, whereas including a tourbillon regulator to create the 5101.
Patek Philippe Reference 5101’s Caliber T 28-20 REC 10J PS IRM
Each 5101 has at its coronary heart an alpha-numeric overload; it’s a stemwinder in literal and figurative phrases. Correctly talking, the 5101 is powered by Caliber T 28-20 REC 10J PS IRM. Which means the motion is 28 by 20 mm, features a tourbillon (T), is rectangular (REC), runs for ten days (10J), has a small-seconds subdial (PS), and includes a energy reserve indicator (IRM). Every motion consists of two mainspring barrels particularly to defeat the sort of quick/gradual extremes skilled by long-reserve, single-spring actions just like the IWC.
Patek Philippe’s tourbillon regulator is orthodox in structure and beautiful intimately. Partly for the sake of discretion, partly for the sake of custom, and partly to guard lubricants from UV rays, the 5101’s tourbillon coronary heart is hid below the dial. The tourbillon meeting, which consists of 72 elements, has a mass of solely .3 grams. The one-minute rotation drives off an escapement operating at 3 Hz.
As with all fashionable Patek Philippe balances, this one has Gyromax free-sprung structure, however an upgraded hand-formed overcoil fortifies it in opposition to the trials of five-position testing in the course of the C.O.S.C. chronometer check.
Excessive type and plush element outline this motion. Pre-2009 fashions characteristic the Poinçon de Genève, and fashions constructed from roughly summer season 2009 sport the Patek Philippe Seal; high quality is uniform on all variations.
Six of the 29 pivot jewels are ensconced in gold chatons impressed by the pocket watches of Swiss antiquity. The Geneva waves are gentle, luminous, and ethereal. A black-polished and rounded higher tourbillon bridge creates no fewer than eight inside angles the place polished faces meet. Edges of this bridge converge to sharp factors. The tourbillon cage itself accommodates 4 crisp inside bevels, and two extra kiss the flanks of the middle wheel below the barrel bridge. This anglage is the true deal, and none of Patek Philippe’s entry-level machine milling marks are to be seen on these chamfers.
Patek Philippe Reference 5101: on the surface
Topside, the 5101’s case and dial exude their very own model of charisma. This can be a giant watch unsuited to petite wrists, nevertheless it makes essentially the most of its sprawling expanses.
Patek Philippe Reference 514 from the Nineteen Thirties lends its dramatic arch and tiered flanks to the 5101. As a wearable embodient of excessive Artwork Deco, the ten-day tourbillon is unrivalled; it’s like strapping the Chrysler Constructing to your wrist.
Dial aspect, the 5101 is an train in restraint. Gold palms in leaf profiles pair with Breguet-style Arabic numerals in a succinct assertion of classic cool. Subdials for energy reserve and fixed seconds present equal weighting to the highest and backside of the dial; solely shut examination reveals that the disk at 6 o’clock is bigger than the one at 12.
A easy “railroad monitor” minute scale offers definition on the outer dial. All variations characteristic a dial-side serial quantity on the decrease subdial: serials beginning with a “5” point out a mannequin with the Patek Philippe Seal; “1” or “3” point out a Geneva hallmark motion.
Only a few variations distinguish the 4 variations of the 5101. In its 2003 debut iteration, the 5101P included a salmon dial with blackened palms, matching numerals, and salmon-colored subdials; a Prime Wesselton diamond sits between the lugs at 6 o’clock, the model’s mark of a platinum case.
A 5101R with pink gold case and a gray dial got here alongside in 2009; its sub-registers distinction in a lighter shade of gray. The 5101G from 2011 matches the heat of white gold to a two-tone dial in metallic blue with silver registers, whereas 2012 witnessed the ultimate variant as a 5101J bowed with a silver-white dial and a yellow gold case.
Reckoning manufacturing figures for the 5101 is a problem. Every new mannequin’s debut coincided with the discontinuation of the earlier model. Annual manufacturing of any given 5101 variant amounted to dozens, not tons of, and it’s probably that fewer than 1,000 examples of all Patek Philippe ten-day tourbillon chronometers had been manufactured.
The platinum 5101P was the unique, most publicized, and most prolific mannequin with maybe 300-500 made; most of this was front-loaded within the first handful of mannequin years. The pink and white gold fashions ran for 2 years every, and 100 items is a good guess for every variant. Patek Philippe’s yellow gold 5101G might have been obtainable for lower than two full mannequin years previous to its retirement. Gross sales appeared to have slowed considerably in the course of the 2009-2013 run of the R, G, and J fashions, and unsold examples have been retailed new as not too long ago as 2021.
The Gondolo-branded 5200 arrived in 2013, marking the top of the road for Reference 5101. Whereas theoretically the successor to each the 5101 and the 5100, the in any other case worthy 5200 lacked the panache, exclusivity, and beauty of the earlier tourbillon. The 5101 is Patek Philippe’s achievement, nevertheless it looks like a high-water mark for your complete Swiss watch business.
Its legacy lives on.
In my latest interview with Rexhep Rexhepi, the younger watchmaker recalled his first encounter with the 5101 as a watershed second in his five-year apprenticeship at Patek Philippe. The type, the wonder, and the uncompromising requirements of the ten-day tourbillon first spurred Rexhepi’s resolve to create his personal watch – and to take action at a degree commensurate to the 5101. Each Rexhep Rexhepi Chronomètre Contemporain that leaves Geneva owes a small debt of gratitude to Patek Philippe’s magnum opus.
Fast Info Patek Philippe 5101 Ten-Day Tourbillon
Case: 29.6 x 51.7 x 12.2 mm in white gold, pink gold, yellow gold, and platinum
Motion: manual-wind Caliber T 28-20 REC 10J PS IRM with one-minute tourbillon, 240-hour energy reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph, official C.O.S.C. chronometer and Seal of Geneva till 2009, overcoil hairspring, free-sprung stability
Capabilities: hours, minutes, seconds; energy reserve indicator
Manufacturing years (all variants): 2003-2013
Tim Mosso is media director and watch specialist at Watchbox.