The Golden Ellipse Anniversary

The Golden Ellipse by Patek Philippe. In perfect form for 40 years.

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Published by 3809 on July 31th, 2009 at 06:46 p.m..

Enduring collections are among the venerable traditions upheld by Patek Philippe: the Geneva-based manufacture is now celebrating the 40th birthday of its legendary Golden Ellipse family with a first platinum version and an exclusive two-watch set with matching jewelry for people who cherish timeless elegance.

In 1868, Patek Philippe crafted the very first Swiss wristwatch. It was a delicate jeweled timepiece. One hundred years later, wristwatches were ubiquitous, and there was hardly any shape that designers had not yet tried out. The spectrum of case styles ranged from classic round to rectangular and square as well as to triangular for Masonic watches. It almost seemed as if the creatives had reached their wits’ end – until the day when the eminent Genevan manufacture Patek Philippe unveiled its Golden Ellipse in 1968. It was rounded without being round and rectangular without having corners. In a way, it was a hybrid of both forms, and the case-width to case-length ratio was 1.618033988… the mysterious golden section in which the combined length of two lines is to the longer line as the longer line is to the shorter one. Hippasus of Metapontum, a Greek mathematician, first described this ratio around 450 B.C. while he was analyzing pentagrams, and in the process also discovered the so-called irrational numbers (numbers which cannot be expressed as fractions and thus have an infinite number of decimal places). It turned out that many forms in architecture and in nature which people perceive as harmonious actually have shapes based on the golden section. The ratio was therefore soon referred to as the divine proportion and remains one of the most fascinating natural and cultural phenomena.

With Patek Philippe’s Golden Ellipse, the divine proportion appeared on wrists for the first time in 1968, and its name was also inspired by the term “golden section”. The new watch was appealing not only because of its novel and uncommon case form, but also because the 18K gold dial radiated an unfathomably deep blue glow. The exact process used to coax this almost magic hue out of a gold dial remains one of the best-kept secrets of the manufacture.

In 2008, the Golden Ellipse celebrates its 40th birthday, making this collection the second-oldest one behind the legendary Calatrava.

Ref. 5738P: The extra large Golden Ellipse in platinum

For the first time, Patek Philippe presents its Golden Ellipse in a large format with a platinum case. The original large-format Golden Ellipse, coveted among collectors and connoisseurs alike, was crafted from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. The cool sheen of platinum underscores the timeless elegance of the new extra large case of the Ref. 5738P, amplified by the divinely proportioned form that strikes a chord in our quest for harmony. And the larger 39.50 x 34.50 millimeter format provides an ample stage for the 18K Blue Gold® dial with its mesmerizing depth effect. A study in minimalist design, it merely has twelve slender applied hour markers, matching baton hands in 18K white gold, and the maker’s signature. And as all Patek Philippe watches in platinum cases, the Ref. 5738P also has a small diamond between the lugs at 6 o’clock.

This decidedly elegant watch has also been acclaimed for its thin silhouette; in earlier years, this was only possible with a manually wound movement. But since the late 1970s when Patek Philippe introduced its caliber 240 with a mini-rotor recessed in the main plate (patented by Patek Philippe), even self-winding watches can be extremely thin and graceful. Because the mini-rotor is made of 22K gold, it has enough mass despite its compact size to reliably convert normal movements of the wrist into winding energy. In view of its precision and quality, the movement ranks among the manufacture’s legendary time measurement machines. It appeals to connoisseurs of mechanical calibers as much as to aesthetically minded watch lovers who admire decorations like Geneva striping and chamfered edges. The owners of the Ref. 5738P cannot ordinarily see this artistic finissage because traditionally, the Golden Ellipse has a solid back. But this will hardly lessen the joy of possessing such a masterpiece. The new and enlarged Golden Ellipse in platinum comes with a shiny navy blue alligator strap secured with a platinum prong buckle.

The aficionado set with two Golden Ellipses and more

An exclusive limited-edition anniversary set was created to commemorate the 40th birthday of the Golden Ellipse. Each of the 100 precious wood boxes contains two Golden Ellipse timepieces: extra large Ref. 5738P and classic size Ref. 3738/100P (35.60 x 31.10 millimeters). Both have exquisite platinum cases with discreet diamonds between the lugs at 6 o’clock, the mysteriously shimmering Blue Gold® dials, blue alligator straps, and superb self-winding mechanical caliber 240 movements.

This magnificent set of two is the perfect choice for people whose togetherness is just as harmonious as the divine proportions of the Golden Ellipse. For men, the anniversary set includes two Golden Ellipse cuff links in 18K white gold with Blue Gold® centers. For ladies, the leather-lined drawer contains a graceful 18K white gold necklace with Golden Ellipse pendants and 69 flawless Top Wesselton diamonds as well as 29 glistening blue sapphires, one of which is cabochon-cut.

Within the current Patek Philippe collection, the extra large Ref. 5738P Golden Ellipse and the cuff links are also available separately. The platinum-cased Ref. 3738/100P in the classic format and the necklace, however, are available only in the limited edition anniversary set and will not be integrated in the current collection.

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