THE SIMPLE JOYS
After Patek Philippe’s extravagant 175th anniversary collection last year, the unembellished Ref. 5370 seems like a complete turnaround— which is exactly why we love it.
After Patek Philippe’s extravagant 175th anniversary collection last year, the unembellished Rattrapante Chronograph Ref. 5370 seems like a complete turnaround—which is exactly why we love it.
IN A WORLD of distraction and excess, we find ourselves increasingly drawn to a simpler life. This isn’t about giving up worldly possessions or adopting austere living conditions but rather about stripping away frivolities and focusing on the essentials.
A watch such as Patek Philippe’s new Split-Seconds Chronograph, Ref. 5370 perfectly embodies this simplicity and elegance. Sighted at Basel for the first time this year, it almost made every other watch we’d seen until then—even the fancier models with multiple complications—fade into the background. An elegant, classically inspired piece, this watch is an absolute purist’s dream, boasting exceptional detail in the finest watchmaking tradition.
First, a black hand-enamelled dial as dark as night, framed in a newly designed 41mm platinum case featuring delicate, subtle details such as a hollowed-out case middle and a curved bezel. Against this exquisite backdrop, the white gold numerals, white scales, luminous hour and minute hands, rhodium chronograph and split-second hands standout brilliantly.
Much as we relished the grandeur of the maison’s 175th anniversary pieces, the 5370 seems to carry the Patek Philippe essence much more prominently: it is sophisticated and unobtrusive, with a reverse-snob appeal. It would take another connoisseur to recognise what you have on your wrist.
Ref. 5370 completes Patek Philippe’s lineup of manual-winding chronographs, following 2011’s Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5270, 2012’s Split-Seconds Chronograph with Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5204 and 2013’s Chronograph Ref. 5170. All four watches are powered by Patek’s vaunted CH 29-535 PS (or variations thereof)—a chronograph calibre with traditional architectural details, such as a column wheel and horizontal clutch. Among horophiles, this family of movements is renowned for its robust construction, reliability and high rate accuracy.
Though Ref. 5270 and Ref. 5204 both featured perpetual calendars, this year’s Ref. 5370 pares things back by doing away with the calendar altogether to focus purely on the split-seconds function. The monochromatic colour scheme of the watch seems to emphasise this focus. This model is powered by Calibre CHR 29-535 PS, the “R” symbolising “rattrapante”, the French term for a split-seconds chronograph. For the uninitiated, this complication was invented for the express purpose of timing two separate events and the interval difference between them; it is used, for example, in a race between two runners or two sports cars.
The word “rattrapante” itself derives from the French “rattraper”, or “catch up”, a reference to the way the split-seconds chronograph hand catches up with the main chronograph hand. The mechanism works as follows: when the button at two o’clock is pushed, the chronograph is activated and both hands advance together at the same instant, one superimposed above the other. Getting them to synchronise perfectly is trickier than it sounds, but it is in such watchmaking techniques that Patek Philippe particularly excels.
When the button integrated in the crown is pushed, the split-seconds function is triggered. The split-second hand stops while the main chronograph hand races along. Pushing the same button causes the stopped hand to resume its motion and catch up with its moving counterpart. Finally, pushing the button at two o’clock stops both hands, while the button at four o’clock resets them.
For such a simple design, the movement and the technology behind the piece are far more intricate than you might at first imagine. But the marriage between classic, minimalist design and highly advanced watchmaking techniques is precisely what makes this watch so remarkable. Like so many iconic Patek Philippe timepieces, this one proves, yet again, the adage that less is more.
Top: Split-Seconds Chronograph Ref. 5370.