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)