One of surprising things this year was the replica Patek Philippe’s decision to add a grand complication model – typically a perpetual calendar – to the Nautilus line. Or was it? Nautilus-with-complication is an old story and the pre-Basel rumor mill was promoting the ‘perpetual’ idea pretty heavily. So when Patek unveiled the replica watches, there was a definite sense of “Surprise -so, what is it?”
The movement is one of the fake Patek’s all-time greats: the ultra-thin self-winding calibre 240 Q – also found in the current collection in the Calatrava-cased model. It’s generally the same movement that was introduced in the landmark ref. 3940 in the mid-1980s and continually improved upon over the years. Those improvements consist of a Gyromax balance wheel and Spiromax (silicium) hairspring. The perpetual calendar display indicates the day, date, month and leap year by hands, together with a moon phase and 24-hour display.
The white gold case measures 40mm (diagonally, from 10-4 o’clock), has a screw-down crown, helping to ensure water-resistance to 60 metres, and comes on a white gold bracelet with a folding clasp.
However, as for a Nautilus, there’s an awful lot happening on the dial (and under it), this is still every inch a Nautilus. As a matter of fact, it’s really notable how the case design (barely modified since the 1976 Gérald Genta original) is so strong that even a three-register display doesn’t detract from its clarity and cohesion.
The horizontally ribbed dial – here in the same clear blue used on the 40th anniversary models and given the usual (subtle) sunray brushing – anchors those displays really well. As on all calibre 240 Q models, the arrangement of the sub-dials is very instinctive, therefore the information is easy to absorb. The combined date and moonphase dial, set at 6 o’clock, is bigger than the other two, adding weight and balance to the overall composition.
The 5740 feels superb on the wrist – nice weight, beautiful balance, perfect size. The lucky thing is that the replica Patek resisted the temptation to go for the 42mm diameter it used for the 40th anniversary collection and stuck to the 40mm. Such a powerful design doesn’t need big dimensions. And it’s slim. Just 8.43mm – more than a millimetre slimmer than the Calatrava 5327 version of the QP and a mere squeak thicker than the ‘uncomplicated’ 5711, which measures 8.3mm.
The perfect arrangement of the corrector pushers for the calendar is barely noticeable at first. But it’s the kind of refinement Patek likes to bring to its work: visually subtle improvements that include what seems like a disproportionate amount of technical effort – in this case, what Patek calls “deflection mechanisms”.
It is almost the same for another invisible innovation: a new, patented fold-over clasp with four independent catches – very smooth in operation and more secure than a standard clasp.