If you are anything like us, you rejoiced when the news of a fresh Patek Philippe Twenty~4 dropped last year. Of course, we loved the automatic Twenty~4 that debuted in 2018 but we also worried a little about the fate of the rectangular quartz model, which is called the manchette. Considering that this is entry level and daily beater territory, you might also think that this is much ado about nothing. Well, to that point, consider this rejoinder: it is good to get in on the ground floor and work your way up.
This year, Patek Philippe shows that it is going to build up the Twenty~4 collection. Now there are new variants for both the round automatic watches as well the old school rectangular one: Ref. 7300/1200A-011 and Ref. 7300/1200R-011, and Ref. 4910/1201R-001, respectively.
Brands such as Patek Philippe pride themselves on offering the same levels of craftsmanship and service at all levels, and you can really put this to the test with the most basic models. Being right at the bottom of the watchmaking pyramid, you do get to ask pertinent questions that will follow you throughout your watch collecting journey. First up, desirability.
Desirability is difficult to comprehend – why should one watch be more popular than another, especially when they are all not that different? The answer is pretty much all in the name: Patek Philippe defines the start line for fine ladies’ timepieces, and most brands do not even make the cut.
We submit that this is a compellingly simple explanation, but it says very little about the Twenty~4 collection. This is not very satisfying, especially because the Twenty~4 is exclusively for women – it is not a feminine version of an existing watch for men. It was launched in 1999 and immediately made an impact for its diamonds and steel combination. This time, with Ref. 4910/1201R, the case and bracelet are in rose gold, with diamonds on the case. The dial is in what the brand calls chocolate brown sunburst. For the automatic versions, one is in steel with diamonds, graced with an olive green dial (Ref. 7300/1200A), and one is in rose gold with diamonds and a distinctive rose-gilt sunburst dial (Ref. 7300/1200R).
Back to the origins, to seasoned collectors, a form watch powered by a quartz movement in steel with diamonds was yet another chapter in bold thinking from the manufacture that dared to deliver the Nautilus and the Aquanaut. To everyone else, the Twenty~4 was simply a beautiful watch with a fetching bracelet that showcased a different part of the Genevan brand’s personality.
In his book, Patek Philippe, The Authorized Biography, Nick Foulkes described the watch thusly: “This straight-sided women’s bracelet watch was to prove, in many ways, the defining watch of the closing years of the twentieth century.” WatchesbySJX even honours this by using a capital M for the name. In case you were wondering if you had to simply take our word for it, rest assured you do not. As we reported last year, the Twenty~4 is not a watch that attracts a lot of space in magazines or even online – the name is certainly not search-engine friendly in the way of the aforementioned Nautilus and Aquanaut. Nevertheless, it has quite a powerful reputation and some even credit it with showing Patek Philippe’s commitment to creating watches specifically for women. For all that, remember that we are discussing an entry-level watch here, not the Sky Moon Tourbillon.
In marketing this watch, Patek Philippe uses the idea of rituals, specifically the slogan “Rituals of my Life,” which echoes the larger “Begin your own tradition” campaign. You might wonder why we would cite the advertising materials in this story, and it is simply because it adds to the value of the watch. It also tells you something about who Patek Philippe thinks will want to wear this watch. We think there are many more sorts of women who would want this watch, including those who do not go in for the Harry Potter Sorting Hat bit. Speaking of fantastically crafted narratives, we have managed to get this far into the story without delivering the details on this watch. This is entirely on purpose because a watch like the Twenty~4 does not need technical specifications. Having said that, we close with the facts, in as few words as possible.
For those familiar with the watch, not much has changed except the dial colours and the markers. In the new design for the manchette, Roman numerals give way to white-gold applied Arabic numerals (just 12 and 6); the former diamond hour markers have made way for applied white gold trapeze-shaped hour markers. For the automatic version, all markers are in rose-gold applied numerals, except for the 6, which is replaced by a date indicator. These markers and numerals, as well as the hands, sport luminous coatings (otherwise called fully lumed in watchspeak).
As always, the manchette case is flanked by two rows of 18 diamonds totalling just under a half carat. The case size remains the same at 25.1mm x 30mm. For the automatics, the characteristics of the 2018 debut remain, so the movement is a calibre 324 S C and the size is 36mm. The Patek Philippe calibre E15 quartz movement powers the manchette, and it does feature some deft finishing touches, which is unusual for a quartz calibre. The automatic references are entirely new, and also feature diamonds only on the bezel (160 in total, for roughly 0.77 carats). The 2020 references, 4910/1200A-001 and 4910/1200A-010, replace the previous steel models, references 4910/10A-001, 4910/10A-010, 4910/10A-011 and 4910/10A-012. The new Ref. 4910/1201R-001 with chocolate brown sunburst dial replaces the previous models in rose gold, Ref. 4910/11R-010 and Ref. 4910/11R-011.
For more information on the Patek Philippe Twenty~4 models, head over to Cortina Watch’s official website.