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Réplique patek philippe calatrava Review: Patek Philippe Ref. 7071 Officially called the Ladies First Chronograph, Ref. 7071 shook up the scene when it was released but the men who had been patiently waiting for the new calibre inside — CH 29-535 PS — would have to play second fiddle to their wives… Horology & Jewelry

By Ashok Soman | Photography by EK Yap | Thursday, 27 September 2012

In the heady days of 2007, forever a touchstone for the watch industry, brands went in search of the illusive serious women collectors. It is not that women do not buy watches or even that they do not buy luxury watches but they are not the steady and dependable presence that men are in this area. To illustrate the point, simply look through the back catalogues of watches from Christie’s, Sotheby’s and virtually any other auction house and see how many feminine pieces are on offer.

Watch expert and journalist Gisbert L. Brunner even notes that watches set with gemstones tend to fare more poorly in holding their value than plain Jane versions, so to speak. Why should any watch suffer a reduction in value for sporting gemstones you might wonder.

This becomes even more curious when you consider that watch retailers around the world regularly deal with female clients, including those interested in typical collectors’ brands such as Patek Philippe, Rolex and Panerai. It is telling though that by and large, these collectors are looking for men’s watches, and that Panerai does not even make dedicated collections for women. For its part, women’s watches from Rolex are merely smaller versions of existing models.

In 2009 though, Patek Philippe threw down the gauntlet with a variant of the timepiece you see here, Ref. 7071R in 18k rose gold, indicating that the Geneva-based firm believes that women too are interested in fine watchmaking and in watches made specifically for them.

Officially called the Ladies First Chronograph, 7071 shook up the scene when it was released – the manually wound calibre CH 29-535 PS replaces the legendary CH 27-70 –but the men who had been patiently waiting for it would have to play second fiddle to their wives…

With the introduction of the manually wound calibre CH 29-535 PS, the reign of legendary CH 27-70, based on a Lemania movement, is officially over. The rounded edges of the chronograph pushers add a subtle but elegant touch

The question remains though, what are women collectors looking for in a watch specifically made for them, other than annoying their husbands slightly? While for observes and writers, such a question may remain academic or rhetorical, worthy of dinner conversation or endless musing in editorials, this is certainly not the case for watch companies, much less a distinguished and sure-footed player such as Patek Philippe. 7071, in our opinion, forms part of the family-owned brand’s answer to the question. In our review of this excellent chronograph, we attempt to read between the lugs to see what Patek Philippe is getting at.

A Compelling Proposition

Looking at the overall package, 7071 is a compelling proposition and an entirely contemporary one, despite certain obvious Art Deco cues. A glance at the watch should make the inspiration clear but we shall return to that in a moment. Before getting into the design and such, we must emphasize that this is not a dainty watch. It is fully 39mm x 35mm, making it cushion-shaped and rather large by Patek Philippe standards.

The version we examined and shot was in 18k white gold (Ref. 7071G-011) but in 2009, it was only available in rose gold. Whatever the case may be, Patek Philippe is only using precious materials, making 7071 quite heavy. A close relative size and weight-wise is Ref. 4934R-001.

Judging then by just the proportions and the heft, this is not the typical watch for women. In terms of how it wears though, the mobile lugs help a great deal to keep the watch close to the skin and offer better adaptability to different wrist types and sizes.

The white substance on the leaf-shaped hour and minute hands (both 18k white gold) is some sort of luminescent material, most likely Superluminova. There are no less than three styles of hands here, with the counters featuring baton-shaped hands and arrow-shaped for the sweep seconds hand 

So then, 7071 vigorously rubbishes the notion that a woman’s watch must be an exercise in tiny excesses while simultaneously embracing the basic truth that diamonds are a must. If small and highly stylized timepieces are what you are looking for then 7071R is not for you. Indeed, small and stylized are typical characteristics of quartz watches for women, including collections from Patek Philippe such as Twenty~4 and Gondolo. A quick look at the Patek Philippe complications watches for women shows that all the watches so far are in classically solid cases.

Up to this point, Patek Philippe is painting a very serious picture of its ideal lady patron. This continues when we look at the styling of the watch, which brings this review back to the aforementioned Art Deco inspiration. While the 7071 does not harken back to any one watch in particular, it does attempt to address the variety of shapes Patek Philippe worked with in the 1920s and 1930s.

The case is cushion-shaped but the dial adds a circle to the picture, with the diamond setting creating a frame for the timekeeping action. The chronograph subdials add another dash of flair, being oval with a proper circle within. The chronograph pushers complete the picture with their rectangular shape offering contrast against the round crown (not set with any stones). 

The ergonomic shape of the case and mobile lugs as well as the subtle curves are indicative of how much thought Patek Philippe put into executing this remarkable watch

 

The large Gyromax balance, with its four arms, instantly reveals this to be a Patek Philippe movement. Note the rich interplay between striped, beveled and polished sections

Technical Wizardry

When the watch is turned over though, it enters an entirely new dimension – one in which men were barred entirely in 2009. Just how special is calibre CH 29-535 PS? Well there are no less than six patents associated with it, as listed briefly below.

1. Optimized tooth profile – An exclusive new tooth profile for the chronograph mechanism. This was first introduced in 2005 in calibre CH R 27-525 PS, the split-seconds chronograph movement that delighted enthusiasts immediately. Essentially, it is a system that negates the risk of chronograph hand jump in both directions when the chronograph is activated, limits the shaking of the chronograph hand, improves energy transmission and reduces the effect of wear and tear on the chronograph mechanism. 2. Enhanced penetration adjustment between the clutch and the chronograph wheel – How the clutch delivers power to the choronograph mechanism is very important and is basically down to how well the teeth of the clutch wheel mesh with the teeth of the chronograph wheel. Patek Philippe’s watchmaking team have utilized a large eccentric column wheel cap that works directly with the tip of the clutch lever. According to Patek Philippe, the new system improves on the penetration between the clutch and chronograph wheel by allowing more precise adjustment. 3. Better synchronization between clutch lever and blocking lever – Typically, these levers are synchronized in a clever sequential dance by the column wheel. Patek Philippe says its engineers have fitted a finger piece onto the clutch lever that effectively automatically synchronizes this lever and the blocking lever. Again, the advantage is primarily in precision of adjustment for the watchmakers because now only one point needs to be adjusted in the control sequences. The official press release suggests that this innovation also keeps the chronograph hand from jumping on either activating the chronograph or stopping it (See 1). 4. Pierced-out minute-counter cam – This completely new minute-counter cam has a special slot to prevent abrupt blocking in response to the reset command. As in (1), this reduces the quivering in the chronograph hand. 5. Self-setting return to zero hammers – Mechanically adjusting the minute hammer function is rendered moot by an intriguing self-setting system, thus enhancing reliability at the same time.  6. Hammers pivoted between jewels – This one is arcane, even for us! Apparently, there are now separate and distinct bilaterally jeweled bearings for both seconds and minute hammers on the same axis. Each hammer works with its own heart cam and spring. Near as we can tell, this innovation aligns the hammers precisely in the vertical direction, making them work with greater smoothness. 

At roughly 12 o'clock, the large cap (in mirror polish here) is one of Patek Philippe's major innovations with calibre CH 29-535 PS. In this image, the effect of the mobile lugs is also quite dramatic

Looking at the movement, the finish is clearly fantastic and inline with everything demanding Patek Philippe connoisseurs expect. Every component appears to be elegantly crafted, with traditional bridges that are hand-chamfered, polished and decorated with Cotes de Geneve. Machines certainly played a part here but Patek Philippe says most of the decoration has been manually executed.

Like recent Patek Philippe mechanical movements, this one bears the Patek Philippe Seal as opposed to the once-standard Geneva Seal or Poincon de Geneve. This Seal applies to the entire watch, not just the movement, and is of course a guarantee of Patek Philippe’s commitment to excellence. One important note is that the Seal also guarantees that the finishing has not compromised the functional and performance aspects of the movement and the watch.

By now, you should understand that this chronograph is sublime in action, which you really must see in person to understand. We can attest to the smooth motion of the chronograph hand and the seemingly seamless integration between starting, stopping and resetting the chronograph. Everything simply pops. 

This close-up reveals more innovations with calibre CH 29-535 PS. Above the polished cap at 12 o'clock, you can see the hammers pivoting between jewels. In the center, the improved tooth profile is visible. Below that, the pierced-out minute counter cam can be seen quite clearly

 

Seen at this distance, the beauty of calibre CH 29-535 PS as a whole is obvious and wonderfully old-school. Note also the lovely curves of the lugs, case and chronograph pushers

We grant you that the improvements in calibre CH 29-535 PS are really in the details but these details will matter to the lady who makes this watch her own. Patek Philippe clearly believes that 7071 belongs on the wrist of a precise sort of woman, or a woman who appreciates precision craftsmanship. No issues here as the brand regularly does this in their men’s collection.

Now the Ladies First Chronograph is a sporty watch with diamonds. The diamonds are as integral to the watch as the chronograph mechanism and Patek Philippe is not, to date, offering the watch without diamonds. Each model of 7071 bears 116 full-cut diamonds of various sizes on the dial, meticulously set and arranged to showcase graduations in size. There are a total of 0.55 carats of stones, approximately.

Astute observers will note that no one is likely to wear the watch while engaged in sporty actions (leather straps are all that is offered) so, like the diamonds, the chronograph is really for personal satisfaction and joy. Just as well of course as the pushers are rather smooth and would be slippery if exposed to sweat and the like.

We particularly like the arrangement of the two counters. Note that the subdials are not on the same axis as the hours, minutes and sweep seconds

Not that a woman who wears 7071 would ever sweat... Well, not with the watch on... So finally, we ask ourselves again what sort of woman does Patek Philippe imagine wearing this watch? We think it is something like this: she never dresses head-to-toe in designer labels, unless  wearing an haute couture gown from Ellie Saab or Valentino. By the same token, she might also be the sort of person who insists on having her cheongsams created by the same tailor who made Maggie Cheung’s in Wong Kar-wai’s In The Mood For Love . So, not a Commes des Garcons customer clearly.

Of course, Patek Philippe cannot control who wears their watches but a timepiece like this one deserves someone who will love it, quite literally. It goes without saying that this is exactly the kind of watch you want to preserve for future generations... Or start your own tradition with... 

Note the Patek Philippe Seal crownside. Beneath this bridge are the self-setting return to zero hammers

SPECIFICATIONS Patek Philippe Ladies First Chronograph watch, Ref. 7071G-011 Dimensions: 39mm x 35 mm Thickness: 10.95mm Case: 18k white gold Crown: Fluted in 18k white gold Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, 30-minute chronograph counter, sweep seconds hand Case back: Sapphire crystal Water resistance: 30 meters Strap: Hand-stitched alligator in blue, with blue stitching,  prong buckle in 18k white gold Movement: Patek Philippe Manufacture calibre CH 29-535 PS, mechanical with manual winding, Diameter: 29.60 mm) Thickness: 5.35 mm Number of jewels: 33 Number of components: 269 Frequency: 28,800 vibrations/hour Power reserve: approx. 65 hours Patek Philippe Seal

Patek Philippe

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