Watches & Jewellery

There's a Science Behind the Beauty of Patek Philippe's Golden Ellipse

Ageing ever so gracefully, the classic timepiece is still a stunner in its 50th year
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It’s not always easy to explain why we find some things more attractive or more beautiful than others. Perhaps it’s a certain je na sais quoi, but in some cases, there is a real scientific explanation behind it.

After the Calatrava, Patek Philippe’s Golden Ellipse is the manufacture’s second oldest collection. It’s slim and subtle; it doesn’t boast grand complications or any bells and whistles. But even after 50 years and only slight variations made in its lifetime, the seemingly simple timepiece still manages to enthral. Here’s where the science comes in.

The width-to-length proportions of its iconic elliptical case — a cross between a circle and a rectangle — were designed based on the golden ratio, a mathematical formula discovered by mathematicians in ancient Greece. With what some call the “divine proportion” of 1:1.6181, the golden ratio achieves well-balanced, aesthetically pleasing proportions, which many twentieth-century architectural and artistic masterpieces were based upon.

It’s highly likely then, that the enduring charm and success of the Golden Ellipse can be attributed to its carefully proportioned case that transcends trends. At the height of its popularity in the late ’70s, the watch was available in 65 variations with different sizes and precious metals. There were also jewellery and high jewellery versions to appeal to the ladies.


To celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, the Golden Ellipse launches in two new models, both in “jumbo” size at 34.5mm x 39.5mm and powered by the iconic Calibre 240, an ultra-thin, self-winding in-house movement.

Limited to just 100 pieces worldwide, the Golden Ellipse Ref. 5738/50P-001 is a celebratory rare handcrafts design that comes with a matching set of white gold cufflinks. Both the dial and the cufflinks are hand engraved by a master engraver with an interlacing volute pattern around a Calatrava cross. On the solid platinum case back of the watch, a commemorative engraving reads “Ellipse d’Or 1968-2018”.

While the rare handcrafts timepiece is limited edition, the Golden Ellipse Ref. 5738R-001 adds to the permanent collection. An ebony black sunburst dial contrasts beautifully with the warm rose gold case on this classic yet contemporary timepiece. With a height of just 5.9mm, it’s also the slimmest watch in the current collection.


This article first appeared in the August 2018 issue of L'Officiel Singapore (out now on Magzter and newsstands). Click here to subscribe.


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