The Baselworld is traditionally the place where watchmakers announce their next most exciting releases and Patek Philippe has caught everybody's eye with the presentation of a new automatic Great Complication, the Alarm Travel Time 5520P -001.
This beautiful piece with a box of 42.2 mm. in diameter, delights us with an exclusive system indicating a Travel Time Zone and a 24 hour alarm mechanism whose hammer hits a classic bell. Patek Philippe has taken five years of development and research to achieve a very innovative integrated movement that has been the subject of four patent applications for the alarm.
Patek Philippe engineers did not have an easy task when they had to design a new alarm mechanism and combine it with the double time zone travel time system, without losing the main objective of preserving the optimum thinness of this piece. For this, the engineers opted for an integrated movement that requires a height less than a construction with an additional module, but which, however, greatly increases the difficulty of its realization. The engineers had to create a piece that is easy to use, safe in handling and easily understandable by the user. The result was this new caliber AL 30-660 S C FUS , a movement of 574 components, specially created for this model.
The caliber used in the Patek Phlippe's Alarm Travel Time has a diameter of 31 mm. and amazing 6.6mm. tall, with a tolerance of -3 + 2 seconds a day.
The movement is also provided with a'flywheel stop' device that allows you to set the time with extreme precision. A transparent sapphire crystal bottom allows you to admire its refined architecture and its careful finishes, with its bridges with chamfered and polished edges as well as its 21-carat rotor equipped with a new rounded profile and decorated with circular 'Côtes de Genève'.
This function launched in 1997 is recognized by an ingenious double time zone system. The watch has two central hands for the hours, a skeletonized one displays home time, and a filled one for the local time at the owner’s current location. This information is complemented by two day/night indicators (white/blue) visible in round apertures. Pressing the pusher located at 8 o'clock increments the local time hand by 1 hour jumps, while pressing the 10 o'clock one, the local hand moves backwards. These two buttons have a + or - sign as appropriate for ease of use. These schedule changes do not interfere with the accuracy of the clock at any time, making this mechanical piece wonderful. The indicator is located at 6 o'clock.
The alarm function is not a new feature for Patek Philippe, we can remember the famous Caliber 89, which for 25 years was the most complicated portable timepiece in the world, that counts among its 33 complications. We can also remember the Patek Philippe's Grandmaster Chime of 2014, when the brand announced in world premiere, in addition to the five strikework, an alarm that ticks the scheduled time with the same tone sequences of those sounded by the minute repeater.
In this case, adding the complications of Travel Time, Patek Philippe has added an alarm concept that features a classic gong. When the alarm is triggered, a hammer visible through the sapphire bottom, strikes a gong that circles the movement for a maximum of 40 seconds with a frequency of 2.5 Hz, which is equivalent to 2.5 strokes per second (around 90 strokes). As in a repetition of minutes, a bridge with the Calatrava cross assures a regular and sustained striking cadence.
It should be noted that this new piece is the first Patek Philippe chiming timepiece equipped with a water-resistant case.
This uniqueness guarantees optimum sound quality especially useful for stays in countries with moist tropical climates. The tightness of the box can slow its diffusion, so the bell is fixed directly on the carriage and not on the movement, as is usually the case.
This new reference 5520 prides itself on its great simplicity of use and operating logic, in addition to its superb acoustic qualities, worthy of the most beautiful Patek Philippe chiming watches. Through two apertures located at 12 o'clock, display the programmed alarm time, adding a small round day/night indicator located just below these two windows. This indicator shows us the phase of the day of the alarm: white for the time from 6 am to 6 pm and blue for 6pm to 6 am. The crown at 4 o'clock must be pulled out to its intermediate position and then by turning it in either position, alarm time changes by 15 minute jumps, both forward and backward.
Finally, the user can press the button located at 2 o'clock to change the alarm status from ON to OFF. This status is indicated by a small window in the form of an alarm, located at 12 o'clock at the top of the alarm hours indicator. The white color corresponds to ON and black to OFF. This button has a small bell engraved that emulates the silhouette of the previous indicator.
The precision, quality and reliability for which Patek Philippe is recognized worldwide, is once again present in this piece, as it is equipped with safety and insulation mechanisms that guarantee faultless operation, preventing any risk of damaging the movement in case of mishandling.
With a 42.2mm box in diameter and 11.57mm. thick, the new Alarm Travel Time 5520P-001 and an aeronautical-inspired design reminds us of the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time launched in 2015. This is because Patek Philippe has been inspired by the design of the Pilot's box, maintaining the same dimensions as the men's model, except that now it presents extremely superior complexity.
We can assure you that Patek Philippe has once again challenged and exceeded the limits of watchmaking, with a piece with a huge personality. In this way Patek Philippe demonstrates why it is one of the favorite brands of independent watchmaking.