WEMPE Hot Watches: Hands-On With Possibly the Last Remaining Patek Philippe 5170P
A collector’s perspective on the gorgeous Patek Ref. 5170P seen in the New York at WEMPE, Fifth Avenue.
Patek Philippe is one of those brands that garners respect whether or not you’re a watch collector. Patek is Patek, whether it’s just one of those mildly over-sentimental print ads you’ve seen or you’re one of the many collectors in line for a 5711 in steel. I will admit that my own collecting veers towards vintage, but my addiction does not preclude me from raptly paying attention to all the new releases each year. Normally, not too much catches my eye, but sometimes, there are releases that take your breath away. Last year, the Patek 5170P was one of those watches. I was thrilled when I was able to admire one at WEMPE Fifth Avenue in the flesh, possibly one of the very last pieces in the US.
The backstory of the 5170
The 5170 was introduced some years ago in 2010, replacing the venerated 5070 and boasts an in-house movement instead of the Lemania that Patek is well known for using. If we start at the movement, the CH 29-535 PS is quite the looker. Well decorated and dramatic with sweeping bridges, it also has a 65-hour power reserve and is manually wound, which, to many horology aficionados, should be music to their ears.
Chances are that if you are at all a lover of watches, that you have seen the Ref. 5170 in one form or another. Usually rendered in yellow, rose, or white gold, the dial bears Breguet numerals with a very clean layout. The 39mm case sits right in the sweet spot of sizing and sits beautifully on the wrist with a profile svelte enough to wear both as a dress and sports watch. This is in direct contrast to another highly celebrated high-end chronograph - the Datograph from A. Lange & Söhne which is a much bulkier watch.
All that said, one can reasonably say that the Ref. 5170 is an attractive watch, straddling the line between modern and classic remarkably well. However, is it collectible in the truest sense of the word? The vintage collector in me ultimately would argue, no. The base 5170 is a serially produced watch from a manufacture that turns out a relatively high number of watches per year, and when you compare the 5170 to something like the legendary Ref. 1463, I’m not sure I can say that it will be a classic down the road. Enter the Ref. 5170P.
Why the 5170P with diamonds is so important
The Ref. 5170P as the “P” in the reference might suggest, is rendered in platinum. The heft of the watch is noticeable on the wrist and it’s a reassuring feeling. However, what makes the 5170P special is the dial. Officially it’s termed a blue fume dial, but in practice the sunburst blue dial is many shades of blue all at once and it might be one of the most stunning blue dials on the market today. The beautifully balanced dial layout and the wonderful color are special all on their own, but the markers are perhaps the biggest difference from the standard Ref. 5170. It’s safe to say, getting hands-on time at WEMPE’s Fifth Avenue boutique was a special experience.
Replacing the normal Breguet numerals are baton markers. You would be forgiven for thinking that they were highly polished metal markers at first glance, but in reality, they are baguette cut diamonds. Now I’ll be the first to say that I am not a fan of diamonds on a watch and that they are perhaps one of the most polarizing features on a watch second only to the date window.
However, there is a degree of subtlety that Patek Philippe has managed here with the diamond markers – which when paired with the deep, inky blue of the dial, makes the whole thing sing. Frankly, I could wax poetic about it all day, but it’s just damn cool. There’s no real rational reason why I like the diamonds on this particular watch, but it’s probably because they are really only there if you care to look.
Why you should run, not walk, to WEMPE Fifth Avenue
As a watch lover, if I were to purchase a modern, classically designed chronograph from a venerated name in the industry, the Patek Ref. 5170 would be fairly high up on my list. As a collector though, the standard Ref. 5170 does not check all the boxes - the Ref. 5170P does. Produced in much smaller numbers and with details that make an already striking watch an even bigger joy to look at, this is one modern Patek to pay attention to. It also just so happens that one of the last Ref. 5170P may be available from an Authorized Dealer in the US, at WEMPE’s Fifth Avenue boutique. The watch is priced at $96,390 USD.
So, if you are in the market for a modern chronograph that’s really something quite special, you might want to give them a call, email or visit, because with this watch, I’m not sure it won’t be around for long.
(Photography by Liam O’Donnell)