PATEK PHILIPPE MILLENNIUM ANNIVERSARY SET, REF. 5100 J/R/G/P
One of the greatest challenges in horology is the storage of power. Keeping a mechanical wristwatch running for 24 hours is in itself a challenge. It was fitting therefore that to celebrate the millennium, Patek Philippe created a wristwatch capable of storing ten days of power, an extraordinary achievement and yet another first for the archives of horology. And for the first time, the platinum version had a decorative feature, requested by Philippe Stern: a flawless Top Wesselton diamond set between the lugs at 6 o’clock to distinguish the platinum from white gold. This subtle indication was then used to identify all other platinum pieces in the company’s collection and the tradition continues to this day.
To celebrate the turn of the Millenium, Patek Philippe commemorated it in a big way with the development of the ref. 5100. Like the ref. 5500 from 1997 was inspired by a vintage watch (the ‘Hour Glass’ or ‘Eiffel Tower’ ref. 2441), the ref. 5100 case was inspired by the ‘Manta Ray’ ref. 2554 from the 1950s. The dramatic case design required 188 separate operations to craft the extended and flared bezel edges, and the refined concave-convex case. The crown is decorated with the Calatrava Cross and the edge of the case back is engraved ‘Year 2000 Patek Philippe’. A sapphire crystal case back reveals the magnificent movement. It was a nod to the past and a bold look into the feature, particularly with the new caliber made for the ref. 5100. The rectangular caliber 28-20/220 fitted with the famous Gyromax balance wheel, patented by Patek Philippe in 1949. This 28 x 20 mm movement (height 5.05 mm) comprises 175 parts which produce 240 hours of power reserve. Such an extraordinary power reserve starts simply with turning the crown which enables the rachet to arm the barrel arbor which in turn winds the spring. As this happens, the teeth of one barrel wind the spring of a second barrel. These self-compensating double barrels are critical to produce the power reserve. Although not identical, both barrels are wound at the same time. A slipping spring is fitted to the arbor of the winding barrel to prevent over-tension of the springs and potential blocking of the winding mechanism when the maximum power reserve has been reached. Barrel power is transmitted to the wheel train through the gear train rachet. The Gyromax balance wheel guarantees the stable functioning of the movement, assuring timekeeping accuracy. The power reserve is indicated in a sub-dial at 12 o’clock. Around 100 turns of the crown will fully-wind the movement, as indicated by the sub-dial hand. When the reserve of power is almost empty, the hand of the sub-dial reaches the red warning zone.
All the case dies and tools were destroyed when production was completed, so even though the original limited edition total production numbers of 3000 seem relatively high, these pieces are sought after by collectors as each remains a unique, never-to-be-made-again piece. For additional context of the watches made to celebrate the Millenium, please read this In-Depth Collectability article.
To learn more about this and other limited edition Patek Philippe box sets, please see this Collectability video.
1500 examples in 18k yellow gold with silvered dial
750 examples in 18k pink gold with anthracite dial
450 examples in 18k white gold with blue dial
300 examples in platinum with black dial