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.

Esquire Singapore Watch Guide - - CONTENTS - Words by Aaron De Silva

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.

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