The Patek Philippe Ellipse was born in 1968, upsetting what were the canons of the wristwatch.
Those were the years when the shape of the cases was purely round, the shape of the shape was being appreciated slowly and like a bolt from the blue, here was presented in Basel in 1968 the Patek Philippe with one of the most iconic shapes in the world, the 'Ellipse.
A middle ground, as the Latins said "in medio stat virtus”The watch is a perfect match between a circle and a rectangle. But starting from the assumption that in geometry, the ellipse is a plane curve obtained by intersecting a cone with a plane in order to produce a closed curve, we can say that the Ellipse boldly renounced the classic shapes of the watches of the time, revealing itself a timeless, elegant and sober watch, which with a measure of 27x32mm fits the wrist of business men in need of a discreet companion for an evening at La Scala, and elegant ladies who, thanks to the model that featured the yellow gold strap 18k integrated case, they could flaunt it like a jewel.
Its design is inspired by the principle of "Golden section" discovered by the ancient Greek mathematicians. This "divine proportion" expressed with the formula 1 / 1,6181 it is the basis of the greatest artistic and architectural masterpieces in history, where even various philosophers and artists have come to grasp an ideal of beauty and harmony over time, pushing themselves to search for it and, in some cases, to recreate it in the anthropic environment as a canon of beauty .
A watch born from a golden formula could only have a long career; indeed in 2018 it celebrated 50 years of history, but let's see some more technical details.
Il Patek Philippe Ellipse born in only precious materials: yellow gold, white gold and platinum its cases and straps.
Ellipse 3548, 1968
The first reference of the Patek Philippe Ellipse of 1968 is the 3548/1, the 27x32mm case watch was fitted with a link bracelet grain of rice in 18k yellow gold - like the case - with a blue dial, time only, gold indexes and spheres.
In 1970 the Golden Ellipse is renewed, not so much in the design, but with the use of precious materials to give life to
one of the most elegant time stamps ever seen. With the reference 4134 / 1G and caliber e15T quartz, is completely dedicated to the fair sex, with a case and bracelet incorporated in white gold, where on its thin case,
thanks to the quartz caliber that made all this possible, it houses a diamond-encrusted bezel. There
the same reference was spotted on Queen Elizabeth's wrist, during one of her rare speeches to the English people.
In 1972 the reference is introduced 4226J, and the change even if imperceptible is of 1mm more in diameter of the case, it reaches 28x33mm. For the rest, the Golden Ellipse remains unchanged, the case material is 18k yellow gold, the blue dial with a soleil finish, and the gold contrasting indexes and spheres.
The most significant novelty is that in the 1972 introduces the dark blue alligator strap which echoes the tones of the dial, with the buckle also marked in 18k gold.
From 1972 to 1976 there were no variations, the Ellipse had convinced an initially skeptical public and often on the wrist of refined men and women, with only one introduction on the market; in 1973 the Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse Ref. 4137 / 3G a small Ellipse in Platinum with black dial, contrasted with the diamonds set on the thin bezel and a chain link bracelet also in platinum, produced in a very limited series, always winking at the female audience, and making it look more like a jewel than a timepiece.
Ellipse 3739 "Television"
1977 is the year of the turning point, the great Geneva watchmaker decides to completely overturn the shape that had consecrated the Golden Ellipse and introduces the Reference 3739 / 2G where the shape remains elliptical, but the distorted measure that marks 30x30mm makes everything more "television"And very 70's.
Agree that those were the years, but the charm of the elongated, sober, and elegant design is lost for a case, that of the 3739, which seems more elongated horizontally than vertically. Fortunately, material and dial remain faithful to the first known Ellipse, saving the indistinguishable features of the watch. The only positive note of the ref. 3739 / 2G is the caliber 240 automatic, then subsequently perfected in 240T. It will be the caliber that will accompany the Ellipse to this day.
In 1979 Patek Philippe retraced his steps, aware of the flop brought by the reference 3739 and correcting the shot with the ref. 3858J vaguely bringing us back to the classic Ellipse we had enjoyed at the end of the 60's. The particular case finds more elongated and sinuous shapes, which have a camber on the sides of the case and which make the whole more weighted, with an almost clean cut near the lugs of the strap.
A small number of pieces have been produced of this reference, and the main feature is that it was also equipped with a clear dial, in addition to its classic combination of yellow gold case and blue dial, we find a yellow gold for the case, and a pearl dial , strictly gold indexes, as well as the hands.
Ellipse 3770 / 1A "Nautellipse"
In 1981 we find a particular reference on the market, which had almost consecrated the end of an era. With this restyling, lovers of the classic shape of the Ellipse, as we had known it, believed it would disappear forever. The reference in question is the 3770 / 1A and it had really made people fear the worst; a box never seen before had swept away any certainty carrying a wind of modernity.
To talk about it, however, we must go back to 1976, the iconic date for the birth of a watch that forever changed the canons of haute horlogerie. The most hardened connoisseurs already know that we are talking about Nautilus, model of the same house in Geneva. The Nautilus, created by the pencil of the genius Gérald Genta, shocked the world of watchmaking, which until then was anchored to the idea that the luxury watch by definition should be in yellow gold, with an extra flat movement.
Not for Gérald, who with his Nautilus gave life to the luxury sports watch. But you are wondering what does that mammoth piece of steel have to do with our fine golden Ellipse? Well, it occurred to someone to combine the two ideas, creating a real "hybrid". 1981 is in fact the year of birth of the "Nautellipse”So nicknamed because a perfect fusion between the two aforementioned models.
Il Patek Philippe Ref. 3770 it features an elongated case like the Ellipse, with the rounded side of the case that distinguish the Nautilus. It is a choice that perhaps everyone agrees; the young people who loved the might of the Nautilus and the career man who preferred the elegance of the Ellipse. Since we are in the 80s and therefore in full Swiss watchmaking crisis, where automatic and manual calibers were threatened by the advance of Japanese quartz, Patek Philippe decided to mount the 3770 quartz caliber E27, a very subtle movement, which thus made it possible to solve the problem of the "heaviness" of the Nautilus, and give the "Nautellipse" small dimensions; more precisely 36x42mm with only 6.5mm thickness for the case. The Geneva-based company abandoned the exclusivity of its precious materials and decided to market the 3770 completely in steel, as well as an all-gold version, and a hybrid of steel and gold.
1984 is the year of redemption, where finally Patek Philippe retraces his steps, the ref. is 3738 / 100J, and the shape is the most iconic. Abandoned the modernity and the crazy proposals of the 70s, we return to the classic materials, the precious ones, and the case size of 35,5x31mm is perhaps the most appropriate ever.
The caliber is automatic and the iconic combination 18k gold case, with the sea blue dial flowing incessantly as the waves come back again, indexes and yoke hands reflect on the crest of the sea in a precious gold, and the strap is in alligator.
Purists can breathe a sigh of relief, the Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse is back. In the same year, 1984, the reference 3930 was also born, same case; slightly smaller with 28x33mm in diameter with quartz movement, designed for women with an original attachment for the strap.
From the mid 80s until 1996 the Ellipse remains iconic and never changes except for some “lady” references with particularities regarding the use of diamonds and particular bracelets. In 1997 the reference 5028G and with it comes great news. The measure changes again; 31x36mm the material is only white gold, black dial with mini sectors under the Arabic numerals, and the seconds at 4 o'clock. The movement is automatic and the caliber is the historic 240 already mounted in 1977, updated and modified 240 PS.
2005 is the year that puts everything back in place, the black dials, sectors and seconds at 4 o'clock disappear, the Ellipse returns to being iconic, as it was born, the reference 3738 returns, and the good taste of the case returns. 18k gold and the sea blue dial. Gold indexes and hands yoke, alligator strap and automatic movement. The caliber 240 is now a certainty. 2005 is also the year of birth of the reference 3738R; the Ellipse with the classic measures 31x35mm, the material is white gold, with a fantastic brown dial, and automatic movement caliber 240T.
Ellipse 5738, the rebirth of an icon
The last reference we are going to deal with is the ref. 5738P, launched on the market by Patek Philippe recently in 2008, presents a classic return to the past, and to those that were the 60s / 70s, and celebrates them with the Ellipse produced only in the most precious material, a platinum case, the dial recalls the sea blue, now iconic in this model, the measures of the sleep case 34.5 × 39.5mm, larger, as required by the market today. The caliber is self-winding.
In 2018 the golden Ellipse turned 50, and celebratory models such as the ref. 5738 / 50P-001. Patek Philippe pays homage to the crafts of fine craftsmanship in a limited series of 100 sets including a platinum timepiece and a matching pair of cufflinks. The dial of the watch is distinguished by the Grand Feu black enamel background, embellished with hand-engraved scrolls in the 18k gold plate.
This refined decoration fits perfectly into the bold and original form of the Golden Ellipse. The solid platinum caseback is embellished with a commemorative engraving "Ellipse d'Or 1968-2018". The crown features a black onyx cabochon set. The cufflinks in white gold reproduce the design of the Golden Ellipse and are embellished with the same black enamel decoration with hand-engraved scrolls.
A few anecdotes about the Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse
We have seen the golden Ellipse change so many times since it was born. To date, we find it exactly like this; elegant, beautiful, with measures that have never wanted to conform to the modern market, except for some millimeter variations in the course of 50 years of history.
In his long life we have seen him on the wrist of some famous people. Almost like wanting to go and steal the title of "president" from the famous Rolex Day Dates that over time, either because on the wrist of the greatest presidents in the world, or because of the bracelet that embellishes it is called this way, it has earned that nickname. But who said that the Rolex Day Date is the presidents' watch? If you don't believe us, below we are going to reveal some of the most powerful positions and investitures in the world, with nothing less than our beloved Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse on the wrist.
In this shot we see Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom portrayed, on display in addition to the sumptuous crown jewels we see the famous Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse Ref. 4134 / 1G, completely in 18k white gold with the integrated strap and the bezel set with diamonds.
In this more recent shot we find instead Sergio Mattarella, 12th president of the Italian Republic in office. While he is busy buttoning his jacket we noticed that on his wrist he sports a Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse Ref. 3738 / 100G, in 18k yellow gold with blue dial and alligator strap. Really very elegant and appropriate to the role he holds.
Have you changed your mind that the Rolex Day Date is not the only watch worthy of a president…?