Platinum Perfection: The Top 5 Platinum Watches From Rolex, Patek Philippe, And Others
The ice-blue dial gives a Rolex away. And if you get the chance to get close enough to have a peek between the lugs at 6 o‘clock of a Patek Philippe and spot a diamond, that’s another telltale sign. In both cases, you’re dealing with a platinum watch. Nothing whispers luxury like cool and heavy platinum. It’s even more of an introvert pleasure than white gold, but an ice blue dial or a diamond in a clever spot where the watch’s owner can see it from time to time, also provides a bit of reassurance. You paid a heavy price for something that is not that obvious at all, so you want/need to see some form of acknowledgment from the watch. Let’s look at platinum perfection from Rolex and Patek Philippe, as well as other brands, like Vacheron Constantin, IWC, and Grand Seiko.
Before we explore five watches in platinum let’s do some groundwork first so we know what kind of metal we’re dealing with. Platinum is a chemical element with the symbol Pt and atomic number 78. Platinum is a naturally white precious metal, known as the most durable, purest, and rarest precious metal in the world.
… platinum does not oxidize in the air at any temperature.
We owe the use of platinum to the pre-Columbian peoples of Latin America, who had already mined the metal 2000 years ago. In the 18th century, platinum caught the attention of European metallurgists. They were immediately intrigued by the metal’s high melting point (1,772°C). The downside of platinum, however, is that it’s difficult to work with. Platinum is less malleable than gold, for instance. But because of its high purity, platinum does not oxidize in the air at any temperature.
Platinum perfection – Mining a lot to get a little
Platinum is a particularly rare precious metal. And that’s because, for 30 grams of pure platinum, 10 tons (!) of platinum ore are needed. Additionally, the platinum purification process takes five to six months. Today, South Africa is by far the largest producer of platinum, followed by Russia and Zimbabwe.
The purity shines on
There is an essential difference between gold and platinum watches since watch cases – and on rare occasions, even bracelets – in platinum are much purer than their gold counterparts. And although gold is slightly more expensive than platinum – one gram of platinum costs Rs 3,062 compared with Rs 3,178 for gold, as on October 24 of this year – a platinum watch is more costly than a gold one. One of the reasons is that the production of a platinum watch is more labor-intensive and requires more expertise.
Platinum watches and jewelry consist of 85 to 99% pure platinum. The rest is supplemented with other white metals, for example, iridium, ruthenium, or cobalt. The engraved numbers 900 or 950 on a watch indicate that it consists of 90% and 95% pure platinum respectively. That purity means that the metal will never lose its soft, shiny light gray color.
Le Grand K is the standard
Another interesting fact is that until 2018, the kilogram (kg) — the fundamental unit of mass in the International System of Units (SI) — was defined as exactly equal to the mass of a small polished cylinder of platinum and iridium cast in 1879. It was kept in a triple-locked vault on the outskirts of Paris, and the cylinder even had a nickname: Le Grand K (The Big K). Why was platinum used as the standard for the kilogram? Because of its purity, the metal would never weather, and thus, it would never change in weight. But enough about the metal platinum. Let’s move on to platinum perfection from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and others like Vacheron Constantin, IWC, and Grand Seiko.
Platinum perfection – Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 Excellence Platine
In the article that I wrote about yellow gold watches that reign supreme, I didn’t include a Vacheron Constantin Historiques Americain 1921. According to one reader, I forgot that watch. But I didn’t. And that’s because the Historiques American 1921 looks best in platinum, not in yellow gold. This watch, which is part of the Collection Excellence Platine, is simply stunning.
… although the hands and numerals have the same color, the time is easy to read.
The twisted case, for example, is only 8.06mm thick and therefore extremely elegant. The smoothness and finishing are excellent. And then we get to the dial. It’s a dial made of platinum. And although the hands and numerals have the same color, the time is easy to read. The blued small second’s hand is a nice colorful touch that matches the blue alligator leather strap with platinum (!) stitching.
If you can afford custom, you can afford platinum
The Historiques American 1921 Excellence Platine (Ref. 82035/000P-B748) is a limited edition of 100 pieces. It is a modern interpretation of a watch that was once developed for someone who wanted to read the time with great ease while driving. If you can order a custom watch from “VC,” you can afford a platinum watch. And that’s why I think the ultimate iteration of the Historiques American 1921 is the €51,000 Collection Excellence Platine version.
For more information, please visit Vacheron Constantin’s official website.
Platinum perfection – Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Series 9 SLGH007
When a case and dial work in perfect harmony, watch magic happens. And although the name SLGH007 doesn’t say it, this watch from the Grand Seiko Heritage Collection Series 9 is the perfect marriage between case and dial. The Series 9 case is an evolution of my favorite case design of all time, the famous 44GS case from 1967. The platinum 40 × 11.7mm case of the SLGH007 shows both brushed and Zaratsu-polished surfaces that emphasize the different, noble gray hues characteristic of platinum. And if you can’t tell it’s platinum just by looking at the material, you will definitely feel it when you pick up this Grand Seiko.
A dial like a tree
The dial shows a “tree ring” design. It was created using special molds that apply the patterns to the dial before a final, refined lacquering technique seals it. You might want to know that just 140 pieces of the €60,000 SLGH007 were made and that inside the case, a fast-beating 9SA5 movement with 80 hours of power reserve is at work.
More information on platinum Grand Seiko watches can be found right here.
Platinum perfection – IWC Il Destriero Scafusia
Back in the ’90s, the world of haute horlogerie was under the spell of complications. The grand complication arms race began in began in 1989 when Patek Philippe unveiled the Calibre 89 to mark its 150th anniversary. Two years later, Blancpain presented the 1735 Grande Complication that took six years to build. And then, in 1992, Audemars Piguet unveiled the Triple Complication, which got an upgrade not too long after in the shape of the Jules Audemars Grande Complication.
… IWC’s appropriately named Il Destriero Scafusia, or The Warhorse from Schaffhausen.
The last watch from that era to enter the “battlefield” was IWC’s appropriately named Il Destriero Scafusia, or The Warhorse from Schaffhausen. The watch debuted in 1993 for the 125th anniversary of International Watch Co., and it was the most complicated watch ever made by IWC.
When I first read about and saw pictures of the “warhorse” it immediately became the stuff of dreams. Not just because of the hand-wound caliber 18680, which combined a rattrapante chronograph, flying tourbillon, perpetual calendar with four-digit year display, and minute repeater, but also because of the platinum case and bracelet. And the lyrical name also helped, of course.
… caliber 1868, which contains no fewer than 750 parts, started life as a Valjoux 7750.
When the production of the Il Destriero Scafusia ended in 1999, 125 pieces had been built. Interestingly, caliber 1868, which contains no fewer than 750 parts, started life as a Valjoux 7750. Doesn’t matter to me. My dream is still very much intact when I look at this ultimate piece of “Probus Scafusia,” solid craftsmanship from Schaffhausen. And solid the Il Destriero Scafusia sure is in full platinum.
Find out if there are platinum watches in the current IWC collection on the brand’s official website.
Platinum perfection – Patek Philippe 5270P Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
It could have been a platinum Golden Ellipse, but I opted for something complicated. The ref. 5270P, with its 41 × 12.4mm platinum case and salmon dial, is just too hypnotizing to not be on this shortlist. A Patek Philippe is prestigious in every material, but a complicated watch in platinum is on an even higher level. The salmon dial has exactly the right color and underlines the classic combination of complications that create a visual smorgasbord.
I can’t imagine what kind of sensation goes through the body and brain of a 5270P owner …
The diamond at 6 o’clock between the lugs is such a nice touch. I can’t imagine what kind of sensation goes through the body and brain of a 5270P owner when that person’s eye glances over that precious stone during a boring meeting. Please let me know in the comments how that feels if you experience that sensation on a regular basis.
The perfect balance
The 5270P is the heir to a great Patek Philippe complicated classic launched in 1941. The golden opaline dial — I will call this salmon-colored — with blackened gold applied numerals shows its heritage in the most splendid form. And underneath the dial, the breathtaking, hand-wound caliber CH 29‑535 PS Q beats away.
I do like a yellow gold complicated Patek Philippe with a white dial a great deal, but when I see the combination of platinum and salmon, I’m even more in awe. The 5270P strikes the perfect balance between history, luxury, exclusivity, watchmaking excellence, and timeless class, style, and elegance. Who wouldn’t pay around €200k for that? Please, don’t answer that.
More information on Patek Philippe is online here.
Platinum perfection – Rolex Day-Date 40
You thought I forgot about the Rolex Day-Date 40 with its signature ice-blue dial? Of course, I didn’t. The Day-Date 40 was introduced in 2015, replacing the quite clunky Day-Date II that just wasn’t proportioned right. The current version is sleeker and also houses the caliber 3255 with a Chronergy escapement and a 70-hour power reserve.
The smooth bezel of the platinum “DD” is more understated, but just like the dial, it hints at the watch’s exclusivity.
A gold Day-Date with its twinkling fluted bezel is a clear statement of status. The smooth bezel of the platinum “DD” is more understated, but just like the dial, it hints at the watch’s exclusivity. But if you want to go all-out, there’s the option of a diamond-set bezel. The full platinum President bracelet with its semi-circular three-piece links is heavy-duty luxury at its finest.
Ice-blue times two
That’s good to know, but it’s all about the exclusive dial, which tells you the 40mm case is made of platinum. This icy blue dial lets you know that this is the top-of-the-line Day-Date. But what kind of ice-blue dial looks best in the Day-Date? Is it the contemporary one with the etched crosshatch motif, or do you prefer the version with the applied classic Roman numerals? You can even find a version of that on the official Rolex website.
Platinum watches I “forgot”
Without explaining myself, there are a couple of platinum watches that are most definitely spectacular, even ultimate, but were left out — the Speedmaster Moonwatch reference 3184.108.40.206.99.001, the Omega Globemaster Annual Calendar, and what about the A. Lange & Söhne Grand Lange 1, with its shimmering, ton-sur-ton gray dial and matching hands made of rhodium-plated gold?
The sheer heft of a watch in platinum needs to be experienced in the metal …
Anyway, platinum watches are in a class of their own. There’s just nothing like the look and feel of a watch made in platinum. The sheer heft of a watch in platinum needs to be experienced in the metal to fully grasp the unrivaled sensation of the noblest of metals. A platinum watch is both a symbol of infinite wealth and of masterful craftsmanship. A platinum watch is an absolute.
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