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I posted an article from A Collected Man on watch typography a few days/weeks ago. Very astute and in-depth observations. One could argue, as another poster suggested, that Patek is purposefully choosing very ubiquitous/anonymous fonts. That means something different today versus 50 years ago. Look at the reverse: where the likes of Lange and Hermes come up with their own custom typography. To me, this ultimately gives the impression of a far more commercial and marketing-driven watch, whatever the other aesthetic good and bad. I’d rather the font choice appear more aloof if that means a watch that isn’t over-slick.I agree with every single point you’ve made. The one point I would add is that the fonts are also nicer on the 3448 — slightly more refined and less computerised.
Cumulatively all those small differences make a watch that is poorly designed, for any watch, but especially when compared to the 3448.
There is a pattern with Patek where almost all of the current line up are worse versions of models from the archive. I don’t know how their design team works but it seems it has been institutionalised in a way that systemically leads to bad design outcomes. Perhaps management or the owners interfere in the process too much which stifles the designers? I can’t imagine any good designer actively making design decisions that essentially take an archive model and make it worse.
Picking this back up because I think it’s an interesting topic and I think some of the other responses didn’t trace the connection to watches.Related to our discussions on Lange and others: https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/fit-for-a-king-prince-charles-experimental-city-is-proving-critics-wrong-20210722-p58bz9.html
I strongly disagree on the dial. The date window is actually a big improvement in my book: (1) easier to read, (2) harmonizes the full date read-out (everything in a window rather than windows-and-a-dial), and (3) creates room for the 24-hour indicator (which makes sense to be in a dial format, consistent with the hour/minute/seconds read-out). Not sure why it matters that it cuts into the 24-hour indicator. It cuts approximately halfway though the outer band of the sub-dial, so there’s no awkward spaces or disruption to my eye. Meanwhile, if you’ve ever had to use or set the time on an annual or perpetual calendar, you’d experience the functional benefit of a 24-hour indicator.My only issue with the 3448, is the lugs are not my favorite. However, maybe their more compact and angular appearance works better with the look of the recessed crown. To me it's dial is so much more appealing than that of the 5396.
I do prefer the lugs of the 5396, but maybe its because those are generally the lugs I prefer on a Calatrava. However the dial is a big miss for me. I suppose it's nitpicking, but anything in that price range would need to be perfect for me to pull the trigger on it. The biggest fail for me is that date cutting into the subdial. It just pisses me off. It could have been a really nice nice, but not perfect dial, if they had nixed the 24 hour indicator, and put the date on the subdial. Also it appears as though the subdial is shifted so high that even when the hands are at 10 and 2 they obscure the 24. Sure we all know it's 24, but it seems inelegant and sloppy. While on the 3448, when the hands are at 10 and 2, one can still see most of the number 31 for the date. The minute markers and hour markers are fine, but I'm really preferring the more delicate ones on the 3448. To me they vintage version looks more elegant, although, I'm sure the minute markers are easier to read at a glance on the 5396. I'm also not a fan of how they decided to have a big bolder "Patek Philippe" name at the top, but separated Geneve from it with the day and month windows. Sure, I get that its marketing to have the name be the first thing you see, especially when someone posts it on social medial. But I prefer the smaller more discreet PP with Geneve under it, and its placement on the 3448. In addition, I know some people like a seconds hand, maybe it's generally preferred, but on a watch like this I don't need it. I like the clean look of no seconds hand on a dressy piece.
Mind providing some examples on the former vs the latter?On “dress” watches: there’s a difference between a more formal watch that only looks right with a suit and the broader category of watches worn on a strap that aren’t sport or tool watches. The latter can easily be worn casually with t-shirt and jeans while the former cannot.
What? Who said that? All I said was that there is something to be said for aloof/generic font choice, not that anything is more “exclusive” or definitively better versus worse.Breguet numerals font is a downmarket marketing ? But generic font is more exclusive and aloof? I dont follow.
I wear my 5296 with jeans, no problem. You could do the same with any number of Pateks or Langes or JLCs, even if they are called “dress watches”. But what about a Tank LC or Golden Ellipse? Harder to pull-off.Mind providing some examples on the former vs the latter?
Well it wouldn't be the first time you've strongly disagreed with someone on this thread.I strongly disagree on the dial. The date window is actually a big improvement in my book: (1) easier to read, (2) harmonizes the full date read-out (everything in a window rather than windows-and-a-dial), and (3) creates room for the 24-hour indicator (which makes sense to be in a dial format, consistent with the hour/minute/seconds read-out). Not sure why it matters that it cuts into the 24-hour indicator. It cuts approximately halfway though the outer band of the sub-dial, so there’s no awkward spaces or disruption to my eye. Meanwhile, if you’ve ever had to use or set the time on an annual or perpetual calendar, you’d experience the functional benefit of a 24-hour indicator.
The one thing I don’t love is how the ‘24’ in the 24-hour indicator is obstructed by the short ends of the hour and minute hands. However, even if a slight flaw or compromise, I don’t see how it adds up to the laughable failure of design that many are characterizing here.
Ah, and this isn’t your first time bashing Patek.Well it wouldn't be the first time you've strongly disagreed with someone on this thread.
All kidding aside, you can justify their design decisions, and yet I still find the date window cutting into the subdial very distasteful. It just looks like an afterthought to me. Oooops, where do we put the date now that we put in this 24 hour indicator where the date was..."Oh, f*ck it, just cut another window in the dial, who cares where it goes." Overall, there are just too many details that I've already mentioned that make the 3448 a far more appealing design to my eye, however YMMV.
I read that article and found the following interesting (discussing the evolution of Patek's 3940 over a 20-year period:I posted an article from A Collected Man on watch typography a few days/weeks ago. Very astute and in-depth observations. One could argue, as another poster suggested, that Patek is purposefully choosing very ubiquitous/anonymous fonts.
I will grant you that it's entirely possible that Patek has chosen modern generic fonts, including the much-reviled Arial, out of some sort of purposeful approach but that doesn't mean people have to like it.As the reference evolves, this brand signature becomes gradually larger and more muted, whilst the subdials also begin to evolve to a more contemporary font. As a result, if you hold a 3940 from 1985 and one produced twenty years later, they are on the surface, almost identical. However, the subtle differences in typeface size and font mean that one feels distinctly like a vintage piece, whilst the other feels much more modern. Beyond the obvious element of rarity, this is why collectors have tended to gravitate towards the earlier executions of this perpetual calendar, as they speak to a certain Patek Philippe aesthetic which is long lost today.
You don't appear to be aware of the arbitrary nature of your commentary. You criticize Lange for its flashy finishing without stopping to acknowledge that in 2021 almost the entirety of finishing, beyond the very basic machining done by the likes of Rolex and ETA, is all for show. Pick your Patek - it doesn't have a better service life or performance than the simplest Rolex coming off the robotic assembly line in 2021. If there is a non-aesthetic benefit to Patek's superior finishing in 2021, I don't think I've heard of it. Of course you can choose to eschew gold chatons, blued screws, etc. in favor of the finishing details you like for whatever reason you like, but that's based on your personal priorities. Yet you continue to stridently argue that Patek's finishing choices are somehow objectively superior to Lange and others.I can understood why something like the 5396 isn’t exactly to everyone’s taste and there are certainly things one can nitpick, but I think when people are attacking it for being a critical failure of design, something else is going on.