Since 1839, Patek Philippe has established itself as one of the most trusted names in the luxury watch business. Through the brand’s dedication to the highest standards of quality and innovation Patek has risen to a status rivaled by few. Perhaps no watch exemplifies this rich heritage of watch making better than the Patek Philippe 5370P Split-Seconds Chronograph . This watch is as technically complex as it is aesthetically refined and elegant. A modern release from the brand, the 5370 honors the design philosophy of Patek Philippe while bringing this complication to a modern case sizing and new audience.
What Patek Philippe classifies as its Grand Complications watches — not to be confused with what are called Grand Complications by the industry at large, which typically include a perpetual calendar, a chronograph, and a chiming mechanism — represent some of the most elaborate watches ever created. Exceptionally complex and aesthetically beautiful, each watch from this line has its own character and intrigue, yet few complications are as practical as the split-seconds chronograph.
A traditional chronograph is capable of timing a single event. The individual hands and subdials of the chronograph are used to track the seconds, minutes, and sometimes hours elapsed when the chronograph function is in use. With a split-seconds chronograph, two central chronograph seconds hands move in tandem. Upon activation, the split-seconds function halts one of these hands in place, indicating the end of the first event, while the second chronograph hand continues to time the second event. Practically, when timing two runners completing laps around a track, the chronograph would be initiated at the start. When the first runner crosses the finish line, the split-seconds mechanism would be activated, stopping one chronograph hand. When the second runner crosses the finish line, the second chronograph hand would be stopped. In this manner, both events have been precisely timed from one chronograph. A typical chronograph would have been only capable of timing a single runner.
First placed in a wrist watch by none other than Patek in 1926, the split-seconds chronograph, or “rattrapante” remains one of the most intricate complications ever created for a wristwatch. Since then, Patek has made many rattrapante references in small numbers including the 5959,1436, and 1563. Each watch had its unique identity and character. Then, in 2015 Patek Philippe combined the best elements of each of these historical references in the release of the very first version of the 5370P, featuring a black enamel dial. Notably made in incredibly small numbers (it is believed that Patek released no more than three to the US market each year), the timepiece was immediately celebrated as a modern classic. In 2020, Patek added the 5370P-011, the watch we are discussing today, with a blue enamel dial and the same fundamental elements that made the original 5370 such a success.
Fashioned in Platinum, the Patek Philippe 5370P-011 is immediately striking in its modern 41mm case. Every element of this timepiece’s construction speaks to elaborate complication and artistic style, with no expense spared in the pursuit of these ideals. A diamond is placed between the lugs at 6 o’clock to indicate the fact that the watch is made from platinum and not white gold. The multifaceted case flanks feature a recessed brushed element with polished raised details and long, elegant lugs. At the tip of each lug a white gold cabochon serves as the cap over the strap spring bar system. This design feature pays homage to the early Patek 1436, one of the first split-seconds chronographs produced by the brand between 1938 and 1971. The cabochon alludes to the pierced lug system found on early models.
Made from noble metals, the 5370P has an equally impressive dial construction. These blue enamel dials are made with an incredibly high rejection rate — as is the case with all enamel. Each layer of enamel applied to the substrate introduces the opportunity for air bubbles, defects, and imperfections that would result in the complete discarding of the dial. This means that dozens of dials are thrown away in the pursuit of one suitable for the customer. With a timeless warmth and three-dimensional quality, enamel has been the material of choice for the highest quality watches since the beginning of the watchmaking industry, and remains present in special watches from Patek to this day.
White gold Breguet numerals are also reserved for only the most exclusive Patek creations each year. It’s no surprise that they are present on the 5370P, polished to a mirror finish with a slight radius applied to the surface of the numerals. The left sub-register on the dial displays the running seconds, and the right displays the chronograph minutes in classic Patek layout. A platinum Calatrava buckle complements a blue alligator strap to tie all the elements of the watch together cohesively. This watch comes fitted with a sapphire case back, a portal into the world of the movement. It also comes with an interchangeable solid caseback for those that prefer the traditional configuration. Luminous material has been applied to the leaf hour and minute hands, bringing a sporty aesthetic to an otherwise dressy timepiece. This increases the versatility of the watch, refining the aesthetics and adding a practical utility to a watch that predominantly speaks to excess over practicality.
Finally, the bezel of the watch — in classic Patek fashion — features a slightly concave detail that is as aesthetically pleasing as it is difficult to produce. Polishing this concave surface takes hours of work in order to guarantee uniformity of finish. The crystal has a slight camber that softens the lines of the watch, and once again honors the traditional profile of vintage Patek crystals. Every element of this watch, simple at first glance, has undergone hours of development, craftsmanship, and scrutiny.
Every person has a different reason for gravitating towards a particular watch. For some it’s the proportions, for others it’s the dial layout. In the case of the Patek 5370P, the true intrigue for many revolves around the movement. The CH 29-535 is a watch enthusiast’s dream. A dizzying maze of interlocking bridges, gears, and levers, this movement is absolutely breathtaking. The 5370P features a power reserve between 55 and 65 hours depending on the use of the chronograph complication. Anglage adds depth with slight beveling on the edges of every bridge. Each bevel has been mirror polished by hand. Geneva stripes adorn the faces of the bridges with black polished screw heads meticulously finished to contrast beautifully with the brushed elements of the movement. Rubies are set within gold chatons and individually lubricated to decrease friction. At the base plate, the use of perlage further decorates the movement.
The movement is 7.1 millimeters thick, which is actually quite slim for a movement this mechanically complicated. With this movement, Patek has addressed another common problem with split-seconds chronographs — oftentimes after engaging the split-seconds mechanism, the stopped chronograph hand introduces drag on the movement, interfering with timing and increasing friction within the movement. For this reason, Patek has added a decoupling mechanism that effectively isolates the two chronograph hands from one another, preventing any drag.
The movement is composed of 312 individual components, each finished to perfection. This movement is the culmination of years of experience creating split-seconds chronographs. Few watchmaking companies are capable of executing a split-seconds chronograph at all. Even fewer are able to execute it as artfully as Patek Philippe. The dial of this watch is beautiful, but the movement takes an artistically tasteful piece, and marries it with the vast mechanical prowess of Patek Philippe. It is this combination of mechanical achievement and artistic refinement that has allowed Patek Philippe to distinguish themselves as one of the finest watchmakers in history.
Versus the Competition
Given the complication’s complexity, the competitive pool for the 5370P is rather shallow. First, within Patek Philippe, the 5204 couples the split-seconds function with a perpetual calendar adding yet further complexity to an already incredible complication. Outside of Patek, the best place to look for a comparable timepiece would be the high horology powerhouse A. Lange and Söhne. Lange has created many split-seconds references, as well as the Datograph Double Split reference 404.035. Exceptionally complicated, the double split — also fashioned in platinum — splits the seconds as well as the minutes of the chronograph.
Conversely, the 5370P from Patek splits the seconds but not the minutes. The Lange Double Split is one of the most impressive watches ever created. With this added complexity, however, you must accept a larger 43mm diameter (versus 41 for Patek), and added thickness of 15.3mm (versus 13.5 for the Patek). The A. Lange and Söhne and Patek Philippe watches offer entirely different interpretations of a similar complication. Where the Patek presents as an elegant, complex watch, the Lange exudes a bolder, minimalistic dial appearance influenced by Bauhaus design that will appeal to a different taste. I believe that the decision between these models largely comes down to a stylistic preference rather than meaningful mechanical or objective differentiating factors. All of these watches are exceptionally well executed, complicated timepieces that represent some of the highest quality watchmaking in the world.
The 5370P is a watch that certainly will attract attention. Even to the layperson who knows very little about watches, this timepiece has an aura of class and refinement that emanates from every element of this watch’s execution. The 5370P is the happy marriage of the quintessential elements of Patek Philippe design language. One of the best representations of the brand’s incredible virtuosity, it is clear to any onlooker that every single detail of this watch has been influenced by the heritage of the brand and carefully scrutinized with modern demands in mind. With blue enamel and polished elements, the dial is clearly a work of art in its own right. With the added visual interest of a manually wound split-seconds chronograph, few watches are more impressive.
The Patek Philippe 5370P-011 is the perfect watch for a collector with an appreciation for vintage styling and classicism, but desiring a modern interpretation from the brand. This Patek Philippe offers so many of the classic elements of Patek design and is perhaps the best modern Patek Philippe. Each element of this watch is meaningfully executed and exudes the exact same opulence and excellence of the references of old. For those looking for a split-seconds chronograph, and wanting to own a truly special grand complication from the master of grand complications, few watches will better satisfy this need than the Patek 5370P Split-Seconds Chronograph in platinum.