It can be very easy to fall into the ‘same old, same old’ trap when collecting watches. I’m certainly not throwing cold water onto the passion of people who have a very specific focus in their collecting. In a collecting world that seemingly witnesses one collector following another down the well-worn tracks of a steel Nautilus or ceramic bezel Daytona finding the new and undiscovered is hard. Not only because discovering something cool is a great feeling, but also the reality is that new and undiscovered often equals affordable! Today we take a closer look at a watch that has been in the corner of our eyes for a while, ever since our friend Paul Surfield shared his Bulang Merry Wristmas watch with us. And let’s be honest, as someone once said to me – “the Patek Ellipse is maybe the last watch you buy before you die“, it’s a watch that has never been ‘cool’, but more seen as a dress watch for the older generation. But actually, its been a surprise watch to me. Let’s check out the Patek Philippe Ellipse D’or…
Its so easy to dismiss a watch when all you’ve done is see pictures on line and in catalogues and had an occasional glimpse in the windows or cabinets of dealers. Maybe that’s why I was so smitten with the Ellipse when I put it on my wrist – I was taken my surprise! When I put it on a couple of things struck me.
The watch actually has more presence than you would expect. The heft and height are a lot more pronounced and it sits proudly on the wrist. And the dial – its incredible. The blue hues change in every single light – the sun light causes an explosion of incredible nuances that I didn’t expect.
The Golden Ratio
According to Patek, the original design was based on the golden ratio or golden mean. In the context of art, Leonardo Da Vinci called the golden mean “Divine Proportion” and used it extensively in his work. In his “Last Supper” painting he used it to define the dimensions of the table to the proportions of the walls and windows in the backgrounds to achieve balance and beauty.
The design team at Patek Philippe used the ratio in the design of the Ellipse d’Or, in the quest to make it one of the most perfectly proportioned wristwatches ever. And aside from the Calatrava, it is the longest running Patek model since its release in 1968. In 2018 Patek unveiled two 50th anniversary models including a 100-piece limited edition Ellipse in platinum.
After nearly a decade of production, by the late 1970s there were an astonishing 65 different references in the Ellipse line up. One of my favourites is the reference 3770, a strange hybrid between the Nautilus and the Ellipse – let’s call it the Nautillipse! Maintaining the tall properties of the Ellipse it featured the crown guards of the Nautilus and a bracelet very much inspired by the latter. There were also gem-set versions for the ladies. The model we are sharing here today is 3738 – the classic yellow gold model with sunburst blue dial and slim hands.
The dial of the 3748 features slim applied baton hour markers that are the perfect accompaniment to the slim hour and minute hands. The blue dial is signed simply PATEK PHILIPPE GENEVE and the has the sigma signs either side is the SWISS signature at six o’clock. The sigma signs are watchmaking codeto signify that the hour markers are made of solid 18kt gold. The simple and timeless dial design has kept the watch unchanged over the five decades of production.
Style and Elegance
In a world dominated by sports watches in Oyster cases and porthole faces, the Ellipse d’Or is something different and understated – making a statement yet not shouting from the rooftops. It doesn’t need an oversized case, a gem set bezel or an itegrated bracelet. It is quite comfortable in its own skin and is a joy to wear. I am shocked by how much I love this watch – and for me the comfort is one of the best elements – I know that I’m wearing a watch, but it isn’t too heavy and weighing me down! And don’t be deceived by its black tie-dressed suave charm – it would be like mistaking JamesBond as just another guy in a tux!