All three versions of the Patek Philippe ref. 5070 represent the brand’s grand return to manufacturing manually-wound chronographs, after a 30 year production hiatus. Let’s take a look!
A little bit of history
The final Patek Philippe chronograph to come off the manufacturing line before the pause in production was the legendary “Tasti Tondi”. Coincidentally, this was the timepiece which actually inspired the design of the 5070.
At the time, this “Tasti Tondi” ref. 1463 was really and truly a “first” in the watch industry as it was Patek Philippe’s first waterproof chronograph.
Amongst its various peculiar features, one of them really stood out – so much so that this feature became its common nickname: the “Tasti Tondi”, or, the “round pushers”, with a grippy finishing on the pressable surface.
This iconic reference became legendary almost immediately, and is still highly sought after by collectors today. It was produced for about 25 years until the line was stopped in 1965.
Only in 1998 did Patek Philippe restart the production of manually-wound chronographs with the ref. 5070, which in similar fashion to the Tasti Tondi, entered into the horological Hall of Fame.
The case and dial of the Patek 5070
Despite the different iterations and configurations of the ref. 5070 (materials and colours for the case and dial), they all had identical dimensions, features and proportions.
These dimensions are a fundamental talking point of this watch.
Nowadays we’re used to larger-diameter cases on watches, but in 1998 a 42mm case wasn’t that normal. To counteract this larger diameter, the case is only 11.6mm thick, making the watch much more elegant and wearable. Making the watch even more tasteful are the square pushers and well-proportioned dimensions of the crown.
The caseback features a sapphire crystal, which allows the owner to gaze upon the mechanical marvel that is the CH 27-70, a Lemania based manual caliber, whose 18,000 vibrations per hour frequency allows for its 60 hour power reserve. Another little bit of trivia for you: the ref. 5070 was the last Patek Philippe to feature a Lemania based movement.
As previously mentioned, the layout of the dial is consistent in all its iterations: it features an outer seconds track for the chronograph with 1/5th of a second graduations and a tachymetre scale inside of the minute track, both very uncommon practices.
The two large sub-dials, one at 3 o’clock for the 30 minute functionality and the other at 9 for the small seconds, are both perfectly aligned with the centre of the dial, creating perfect symmetry. This is Patek going back to basics: elegance, simplicity and sleek in its dials, all complimented by the thin leaf-shaped hands
The various iterations
With a production run of about 250 pieces per year, the ref. 5070 came in 4 different versions, each made from a different material.
The first series, manufactured between 1998 and 2002, features an 18kt yellow gold case with a black dial. On it, matching yellow gold Roman numerals, perfectly legible (as well as the hands and the typography) thanks to this elegant contrast.
You can find this version of the 5070 on the market for between €60,000 and €70,000.
The second configuration was produced alongside the white gold version (don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a sec), and was produced between 2002 and 2008. This version features a rose gold case with a white dial and black typography.
In this case, unlike the 5070J, only the numerals and hands are in matching materials. Meanwhile the black graphics were used in order to better its contrast to the white dial, increasing legibility.
The rose gold version fetches a slightly higher price on the aftermarket compared to the yellow gold version: prices start at €65,000 and reach up to €75,000.
Across the 2002-2008 production period, the white gold version of the 5070 was made. This iteration, like the rose gold one, also features a white dial with black writing, and is the only configuration to have numerals in a different colour to the case.
In order to ensure legibility and contrast, Patek Philippe chose to print black indices on the dial. A happy medium is reached in the hands of the ref. 5070G, whereby they are in case-matching white gold, but they appear slightly darker, after having undergone surface treatment.
The aftermarket prices of the white gold version are very similar to those of the rose gold one: it will set you back between €65,000 – €75,000.
The final version, produced between 2008 and 2099, is by far the most rare and sought after: not only because of its short production run, but also because it commemorates the 10 year anniversary of the reference.
It comes in a beautiful platinum case and is paried with a slightly shaded blue gradient dial, a realy pleasure to look at. This iteration features a white signature and markings to make them really pop from the darker dial. The hand and indices are in case-matching platinum.
This version is the most celebrated one amongst collectors, and as such, reaches higher prices. It’ll cost you a pretty penny: between €165,000 and €180,000 to be exact.
Although it is widely celebrated, this is one of the more “under the radar” references by Patek Philippe. We expect that just like its predecessor, the Patek Philippe ref. 1463, 20 something years down the line, the ref. 5070 will be regarded as one of the legendary chronographs.
-Translated by Patrick R.