When Patek Philippe unveiled the reference 5035, the world’s first Annual
Calendar wristwatch in 1996 (this one is from circa 2003) it curiously left off a complication that had been a staple of its perpetual calendars for seventy
years: the moonphase indicator. In the spot typically home to the moon (just above the 6 o’clock position) it chose, instead, to include a 24-hour,
subdial, choosing practicality over the whimsy of the stars for a then newly patented movement in its new wristwatch — Chris Greenberg
In a previous deconstruction, we told you that
Patek began serially producing perpetual calendars in the early 1940s and that they worked backwards to create this less complicated Annual Calendar in
1996. Ironically, the 315 S-QA Annual Calendar movement was more challenging to create than movements running perpetual calendars; it even has more parts:
316 to the perpetual’s 275. The increase is in part due to a re-designed calendar plate that employs a series of cams and common pinions as opposed to the
more lever-dependant perpetual construction. What it lacks from the perpetual is the leap year indicator and the ability to account for the short month of
February. But that’s it.
Collectors can find the 5035 with a variety of dial colors: black, white, silver — even blue dials can be found on a 50-piece limited edition called the ‘Sincere.’ But
the warmth of this salmon dial set against the coolness of the white gold case is particularly versatile. Watches with black or blue dials can seem a bit
sporty, while silver and white dials can sometimes seem a bit austere and formal. This watch strikes a nice balance between the two.
Despite the color variations, there are standard features across the dials of the 5035. Some Patek references, particularly vintage, were made
with different hands or hour markers (baton, Breguet, or Roman numerals) for the same watch, but this piece sticks to a single combination: luminous
leaf-shaped hour and minute hands and luminous-filled gold Roman numeral hour markers. All of which makes this piece easily legible and speaks to its
Calendar wristwatches come in a wide variety: the ‘complete calendar,’ which needs adjusting at the end of each month that has 31 days; the ‘calendar
week,’ which shows the current week of the year; the ‘annual calendar,’ which needs adjusting only at the end of February; and the ‘perpetual calendar,’
which needs no monthly adjustment and will remain in sync until 2100 if continually running. There are calendar watches that display the Chinese calendar
and some that account for the daily equation of time, (the difference between solar time and the 24-hour day).
Manufacturers have paired calendar functions with tourbillons, minute repeaters, and chronograph functions since almost the inception of the wristwatch.
They have displayed the date in windows, on subdials, around the outside of the dial, and in retrograde. Patek alone boasts a wide variety of calendar
watches but identifies only seven separate references as its Annual Calendars. Among those currently in production are certain versions of the Nautilus;
the 5235G, a single reference number model (available only in white gold) with its unique ‘regulator’ dial; and the standard bearer 5146 — successor to
Over the years, Patek has changed the case size of its first annual calendar (the 5146, for example, is now 39mm in diameter, compared to the
now-discontinued 5035’s 37mm) and made some dial refinements among the various references. But the 5035 is the original — the watch that began a much-loved
series of timepieces among Patek followers. It was created to provide relevant information about the day in an elegant, clearly arranged fashion at a
relatively more accessible price point for a luxury Swiss timepiece. This is a piece not to be missed.