MY NEXT GRAILS: Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendars (Part 2 of 4)

PART 2 – 5550p Advanced Research

The 5550p advanced research was introduced in 2011 at Baselworld. If the 3940 were Patek’s classical pure perpetual calendars, then the 5550p is the modernized improved version. Patek Philippe’s scientific advanced research wing in collaboration with major Swiss engineering universities are responsible for research and development for the company. Every few years since 2005, Patek has released 5 limited advanced research models with breakthrough innovations. The 5550p is the 4th installment of the advanced research series released in 2011.

5550p innovations

The 5550p is the “silicone watch”. Major parts of the movement including the escapement, the mainspring and the balance were replaced with silicone parts instead of metals. The reasoning behind this was to improve their mechanical efficiency by decreasing friction and to abolish the need for oil lubrication. The technical details of these new innovations were outlined in this article in Quill and Pad.

5650g advanced research

Only 300 limited pieces of the 5550p were produced which is typical of all the advanced research models. They seem to be Patek’s “guinea pig” models to be tested and worn by wild type watch wearers and collectors. Time will tell if these models will be highly sought after by collectors but judging by the 5650g Aquanaut’s open-worked success, it seems collectors desire these pieces truly as advanced and special.

The 5550p’s case is made entirely of Patek grade platinum and measures 37mm in diameter and 9mm thick, ideal for my thin and light restrictions. It is a pure perpetual calendar with a silvery golden dial which just manages to display a matte, but brushed look. The dial is what makes this watch so special. The dial is clearly brushed metal evident by the striations upon closer look. But what is more striking is that these fine striations when viewed macroscopically appear as one homogenous surface. This effect must really have suffered some advanced research, worthy of a horological Nobel to be collected on 10 December in Stockholm. Although, I admit I’ve never actually seen the watch I’m sure this effect is more striking in the metal. The advanced research stamp is located below the moonphase on the dial as opposed to previous advanced research models which were imprinted on the caseback.

The leaflike shape of the hour and minute hands are quite special. I must say that only a few Patek models include these hands and they are my favourite Patek hands. While I prefer the 3940’s overall look better than the 5550p, the luminous hands and hour markers on the 5550p add so much more function and value. The case is essentially identical in shape and size to the 3940 and if the 3940 included the luminous leaf hands and luminous hour markers, it would be the perfect perpertual for me.

Magnifying lens on caseback

The caseback is transparent sapphire and contains a raised magnifying lens to highlight the then novel Oscillomax advanced research mechanism. I am not a big fan of this raised magnifying glass and I think it would bother the dorsum of my wrist.

The overall aesthetic of this model rivals that of the 3940 but I still prefer the 3940. The 3940 displays more classical fonts which are softer on the eyes. The 5550p colors and lustre are bolder and not as warm and relaxing as the 3940. While the 5550p is a visual stimulant the 3940 is a visual pacifier meant to relax and ease the retina. But hey who am I kidding? I would take either because beggars cannot be choosers, especially when it comes to these mechanical smart watches.

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