A positive change of heart.
As a young watch writer many years back, I remember being extremely taken by Patek Philippe’s Twenty~4 collection. The elegant manchette watch was a gateway series to one of the most illustrious watchmaking brands and I thought, “One day, I’ll get a Twenty~4”.
Of course, for fans of mechanical watches, the main drawback of the Twenty~4 then was that it ran on a quartz movement. While many women very much appreciate the accuracy of quartz, and the fact that there is no need to wind up the watch even after not wearing it for some time, mechanical watches are often more highly regarded by ‘serious’ collectors. And for good reason: The expert craftsmanship, technical know-how and meticulous assembly involved in making a mechanical watch all contribute to its value and allure.
In a long overdue move, Patek Philippe realised the dream of many a female watch collector and aficionado when it gave the Twenty~4 an automatic heart this year. The only other Twenty~4 with a mechanical movement was an haute joaillerie version from 2003, so this is definitely a significant development for the collection.
The movement of choice is Patek Philippe’s dependable Calibre 324 S C, the trusty workhorse found in many a Calatrava, Nautilus, and Aquanaut. The reliable calibre features a patented Gyromax balance and Spiromax hairspring in Silinvar, which is Patek Philippe’s proprietary silicon alloy. It also offers decent power reserve of up to 45 hours.
The most obvious difference between the Twenty~4 Automatic from the original version is the case shape: it features a round case instead of the rectangular cuff of the first models. Those who particularly like the manchette style may not warm to this, but a round case tends to have a universal appeal and if it’s going to be the Swiss marque’s first ‘everyday’ watch for ladies, it needs to be versatile — something the shape affords.
Not everything from the original design has been abandoned, though. The bracelet retains cambered central links paired with slimmer outside links on either side. Like the manchette version, the links in the Twenty~4 Automatic hug the wrist nicely in a comfortable fit.
All five versions of the Twenty~4 Automatic come with diamond-set bezels, which up the luxe factor but are not too ostentatious. Two models in steel keep things a little more wallet-friendly, while the other three in rose gold add a touch of femininity. My favourite version has to be the one with a plain rose gold bracelet and ‘Shantung silk’ dial (above). While it’s not the first time the brand has featured such a finishing (it was in last year’s Ref. 4947), fans of such textured dials will be happy to see it in the Twenty~4 collection.
Heeding the call of women who want larger watches, the Twenty~4 comes in a mid-sized 36mm, which makes it contemporary but not too large, so the look is kept classy. Starting at S$34,400, the watches no longer count as gateway pieces (although the quartz manchette versions still are), but they are a big step in the right direction for Patek Philippe in courting the female demographic.
Images courtesy of Patek Philippe, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.
Text by Melissa Kong, in collaboration with Crown Watch Blog.