Ellipse gloss: Patek Philippe updates an era-defining dress watch

Patek Philippe updates an era-defining dress watch
The 2018 rose-gold Golden Ellipse 5738R-001 grand taille edition with super-slim PP 240 automatic movement.
(Image credit: Norman Wilcox-Geissen)

The unique nature of Swiss watch design – strongly defined by technical and decorative handcraft – has always allowed maverick ideas to flourish and endure, even against the backdrop of growing mass production in the horological industry during the 1950s and 1960s.

The Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse, launched in 1968, embodies a collision of eras. The original dial of blue-gold, a specially created alloy, looked back to goldsmith techniques of the 1950s: the slim case, hands and indices emit 1960s suave, yet the piece's substantial, lozenge-like form hints at early 1970s futurism. Three decades of iterations have rendered the design a true classic; Patek even launched accessories, including Golden Ellipse lighters, pendants and cufflinks.

Debate abounds as to the Golden Ellipse's origins – one idea is that its shape was inspired by an aerial view of a US highway junction, while its form points to a golden ratio philosophy. This latter theory has merit; the women's versions are as handsomely proportioned as the men's, their form undiminished on a smaller wrist.

In its 50th year, the Golden Ellipse serves as a classic dress watch and symbol of taste. The 2018 update, the 573R-001, a jumbo – grande taille – edition with a 34mm x 39.5mm rose-gold case, survey black-dial and typically superfine rose-gold hands and indices, pays homage to its legacy. It is accompanied by a special-edition set of cufflinks for the true horology connoisseur. §

As originally featured in the October 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*235)


For more information, visit the Patek Philippe website

Caragh McKay is a contributing editor at Wallpaper* and was watches & jewellery director at the magazine between 2011 and 2019. Caragh’s current remit is cross-cultural and her recent stories include the curious tale of how Muhammad Ali met his poetic match in Robert Burns and how a Martin Scorsese Martin film revived a forgotten Osage art.