Patek 5970 — An Ode to the 5270’s “Perfect” Older Brother

One of the most symbolic father-son moments in watch history was when Philippe Stern handed the reins of Patek Philippe to his son Thierry Stern. This iconic moment gave birth to one of the most outstanding timepieces in watch history — the Patek 5970

The Patek Philippe 5970 is a series of perpetual calendar chronographs manufactured by Patek Philippe in the early 2000s. Anyone who is an avid watch collector will tell you that Patek Philippe provides one of the finest watches in the industry. The passed-down technique that Patek uses in crafting their timepieces is evocative of the brand’s image. This technique made the glorious anatomy that makes up the Patek 5970. At first glance, you’re not entirely sure if the timepiece is vintage, modern, a mix of both, or somewhere in between.

In this article, we will unshroud the mystery that makes this watch not only a prized possession but also a technical masterpiece. After discovering what the Patek 5970 has to behold, we will compare the 5970 with its successor — the 5270. But before we head into the nitty and gritty of the 5970, let’s get to know the origins of this lovely slice of luxury,

A Closer Look at the Patek 5970

The Patek Philippe 5970 was coined in 2004 by Thierry Stern as the successor to the reference 3970. In devising the 5970, Thierry wanted to create a watch that would cater to the younger generation while also inheriting the legacy that defined Patek’s remarkable history. Patek Philippe began manufacturing the reference 5970 in 2004 and ended its production in 2011. The Patek 5970 was the last of Patek’s perpetual calendar watches to utilize the Lemania 2310-based movement. The Patek 5970 series would sell at an approximate price of $100,000 USD to $200,000 USD for each timepiece. 

The Patek 5970 was later on succeeded by the Patek 5270, which uses Patek’s in-house movement mechanisms. Although it was the 5270’s time to bask in the limelight, the watch (5270) did not receive the same amount of appreciation compared to its predecessors. The 5970 remains one of Patek’s most revered and most sought-after references to date. Its unmatched luxury and distinct design make this timepiece a close and spitting image to the Perfect Watch.

Patek 5970 Yellow Gold
Photo from Phillips

Specifications

The timepiece measures 40mm in diameter with a thickness of 13mm. The Patek 5970 will look even thicker if your wrist is on the small side. Despite its bulky appearance, the watch is well-proportioned and fits the hand like a glove. People can don this premium watch with relative ease on various special occasions or in everyday life. Even in this level of luxury, it’s not easy to find a burly wristwatch that can wrap comfortably around your wrist. 

1. Case

Different cases with various colors shelter the Patek 5970 and its variants. The custom cases cover and protect the timepiece from danger and also separates it from other corresponding references. While none of them are inherently the same, each watch case has its own set of similarities.

The case can either be made of 18Kt gold or platinum, depending on the model version. Each case comes with a crown and two pushers positioned at the right side of the timepiece. The watch cases are sleek and finished skillfully, and the lugs on each side are carefully beveled to lay comfortably on one’s wrist while avoiding excess protrusion.

Personally, I am glad that the lugs are very short. The appeal of long-lugged watches is something I cannot (and will not) understand. Long lugs make my timepiece look like it has a pair of skis attached to it. I prefer having a small-lugged wristwatch that does not look like it’s ready to ski down a snowy mountain.

2. Dial

Like most of Patek’s line-up of perpetual calendars, the Patek 5970 can indicate different aspects of time. From seconds, minutes, and hours, all the way to days, months, years, leap years, and moon phases, the 5970 fulfills its role like any other watch of its caliber. By looking at any of the Patek Philippe 5970 variants, you’ll see that the dials are ladened with all sorts of time indicators and matching leaf-style handsets. The dials for the Patek 5970G, Patek 5970R, and Patek 5970J feature a light tinge, while the Patek 5970P has its dial colored black. Visible near the rim of each dial is a tachymetric scale that provides more functionality to the 5970.

Despite being fully loaded, there’s still a sufficient amount of space that separates each component. The subdials and numbers are far enough to not clash with one another, allowing its wearers to view the time and date without difficulty. The preciseness placed on the proportions and overall balance of the dial is remarkable — a distinct level of craftsmanship Patek has carried throughout the ages. 

The Patek Philippe and Geneve signatures are placed below the day and month window to complete the dial’s style.

3. Movement

CH 27-70 Q Movement, Patek 5970
Photo from Phillips

As mentioned above, a Lemania-based movement operates the Patek 5970. The base of the apparatus is deeply customised to create the CH 27-70 Q. Although heavily modified, the Lemania-based mechanism is a crucial piece of Patek’s perpetual timepieces due to its usage in the company, dating back to 1986. The Patek 5970 has a power reserve of 60 hours before needing to be manually rewound.

Twenty-four jewels hold the CH 27-70 Q together to reduce friction between the parts. At the rear of the watch, you can see an exhibition-style caseback that shelters the mechanism. With this design, people can enjoy viewing the intricacies of the CH 27-70 Q movement. The watch uses sapphire glass to form the transparent caseback to help ensure that the apparatus can avoid all sorts of scratches and damage.

4. Strap

The Patek 5970s typically use high-quality alligator straps to hold their luxurious timepiece. Juxtaposed to other reptile skin such as crocodile skin and caiman skin, the material of Alligator skin is much more flexible and durable. Alligator leather is also said to age well, so it pairs well with an ageless watch such as the Patek 5970. Alligator skin undergoes a type of processing that excludes the use of harmful chemicals, allowing users with sensitive skin to wear the watch without irritation. Maintenance for the alligator strap is simple and easy, too, since all you need to do is wipe it with a damp cloth. Picking alligator leather was an experienced choice for making the 5970’s strap.

Patek Philippe 5970’s Four Different Variants

Patek 5970 Platinum
Photo from Phillips

Patek Philippe 5970P (Platinum)

Possibly the fan-favorite of the series, the platinum-cased 5970 boasts a unique and versatile look that makes it stand out among the rest. This particular 5970 is the only model that features a black dial. The 5970P entered production in 2010 and was the last version of the series before its discontinuation. The charcoal black dial and platinum case made this particular 5970 model attain an exceedingly high demand among enthusiasts and collectors alike. 

I’m a simple man. When I see the color black, I like it. The blackness of the dial definitely sets it apart from the other three versions. It is the most popular variant of the bunch and is the series’ highest sold base watch.

Patek 5970 Rose Gold

Patek Philippe 5970R (Rose Gold)

You’ve probably heard this specific color go around during the release of the iPhone 6. One of the first 5970s produced was the Patek Philippe 5970R. Like the 5970G, the 5970R began its production in 2004. Patek continued to manufacture the 5970R for five years and halted production in 2009. 

Compared to most shades of rose gold that highlight a rosy-red hue, the redness of the 5970R has a milder tone which makes the gold aspect of the rose gold shade more distinct. The merging of the rose gold case with the clean yet elaborate white dial makes the 5970R a vintage take with a modern twist. Although it has some resemblances with the 5970J (yellow gold), this eccentric work of art has its personalized spot in the series that gives it as much attention as its siblings.

Patek 5970 White Gold
Photo from Christie’s

Patek Philippe 5970G (White Gold)

The Patek 5970G was also one of the first in the series to make its debut. Along with the rose gold version, Patek began producing the 5970G in 2004. This model features a neatly done white dial accompanied by a matching white gold case. The white dial is balanced with black hands and black numerals, giving it a simple yet intriguing two-toned elegance. Although the Patek 5970G arguably has the cleanest look, it was the least popular piece of the series. Its minimalist design has likely catered to a younger demographic instead of Patek’s usual audience.

I’m glad to be a part of the younger generation, as I think the 5970G suits me. The complementing tones are elegant, and the watch looks good on all kinds of wrists.

Patek 5970 Yellow Gold
Photo from Phillips

Patek Philippe 5970J (Yellow Gold)

Everything about the Patek 5970 screams classic, and you can sense the prestigious aura it exudes. The 5970J was introduced in 2009 and is the rarest model of the reference. It was made as another option for enthusiasts apart from the rose gold and white gold versions and only underwent one year of production.

I’m a total sucker for this kind of color scheme, and this variant is undoubtedly my favorite among the four. Its extensive vintage look, high-quality crafting, and sepia-like tone sequence make this watch one of the best watches I’ve ever seen.

Patek 5970 vs. Patek 5270  A Comparison 

The Patek 5970 has been likened to the Patek 5270 by many watch enthusiasts. Both perpetual calendar watches were conceived during Thierry’s time as chairman and are both reputable constructs. Although most enthusiasts deem the former to be more well-loved than the latter, more 5270s populate the market. You can find a model of the 5270 under the Patek Philippe Complications with no sign of the Patek 5970. That said, let’s get a better understanding of these two models.

Movement: CH 27-70 Q vs. 29-535S Q

The first and apparent difference is the movement. Unlike the 5970, which used a heavily modded Lemania 2310, the 5270 used the 29-535S Q,  a mechanism built solely in-house. Not only was it a more modern apparatus, but it was also the first mechanism Patek ever made. The 29-535S Q comes with a column wheel to manage the different levels of the watch. The new column wheel allows the systems of the 5270 to work smoother and be subject to lesser wear and tear.

Is it better than the 5970’s movement? Technically, yes. Another difference, albeit minor, between the two is their power reserves. The 5270 has a power reserve of 65 hours, while the 5970 only had a power reserve of 60 hours. Other than that, the two mechanisms work like a charm with barely any noteworthy contrasts. 

Diameter: 40mm vs. 41mm

The Patek 5970 has a diameter of 40mm, while the 5270 has a diameter of 41mm. The 5270s new case and new lugs make this model one of Patek Philippe’s most sizable references in their catalog. Despite being only a millimeter greater in diameter, the 5270 is visibly bulkier than its predecessors. The Patek 5970 also exhibited a more comfortable fit compared to the 5270. That said, both references fit cozily on the wrist despite their girthy exterior.

Series: One vs. Three 

The Patek 5970 only had a single series during its production. The sole series of four metals features the following versions: Rose Gold, White Gold, Yellow Gold, and Platinum. With four stunning and unique timepieces, it proved challenging for enthusiasts and collectors to pick a favorite.

With regards to the Patek 5270, there were things it did right and things it didn’t. I usually like hearing the good news first so let’s start with that. The 5270 had two windows embedded on its 4:30 and 7:30 sides. This innovation solved an issue that some users had in reading the 5970’s multiple dials. 

That said, it is time for us to go through the three series of the 5270 and its bumpy road. The first series of the 5270 featured a white gold case identical to the 5970 variant, a light-silver dial with a gold handset, and (get this) no tachymeter. It is unknown why Patek excluded this component from the 5270. Due to that decision, fans were unhappy with the outcome as their expectations were unmet. In effect, the 5270 had to reintroduce itself in a second series.

The second series had a white gold case with a choice between an opal or blue dial. To not cause events that repeat history, the second series now comes with a tachymetric scale. Patek finally took care of the problem. However, a new obstacle made itself apparent when enthusiasts noticed something unsightly in the dial. How should I say this? Do you know that feeling when you take a picture of yourself, and you see your double-chin? Yes, that grim reminder that we need to lose weight is such an eyesore. 

The 5270 has a similar issue in which a small protrusion is visible at the bottom of the dial. This design messes with the perfect circle of the tachymeter and is an absolute bane for those with an inkling of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Funnily enough, this disfigurement also acquired was described as a “chin” by its users and viewers in the watch industry. The model was further snubbed by its audience not only because reading the tachymeter would prove a challenge but also because that “chin” is straight-up unsightly.

Well, it looks like it’s back to the drawing board. After yet another fault, the brand releases its 3rd series of the 5270. This installment has the same palette option as the second series (white gold case with either a blue or opal dial. The series also unveiled another color scheme – sporting a Rose Gold casing merged with an opal dial. It looks like the third time was definitely the charm for the 5270. The 5270 finally had its breakthrough and is now placed in a better light. Goodbye, chin. I won’t miss you a single bit.

Is one better than the other?

It took a while, but the 5270 finally hit the sweet spot that the Patek 5970 has leisurely stayed. Despite having mishaps during the development of the 5270s series, its first and second series developed a niche as part of the 5270’s history. Such models would sometimes fetch a price that’s equal to the models of the 5970. Is one better than the other? Personally, no. I like the 5970 better by default, but that doesn’t mean that the 5270 lacks. Both references showcase superb performance and individual style, which is what matters the most. The 5970 may be rarer, but they are both priced closely. Additionally, I think these two references (along with the 3970) can outclass any of Patek’s current catalogs — including Patek’s Grand Complications set.

Final Thoughts

The Patek 5970 is a reference series that you could very much call perfect. Honestly, you won’t find a more spectacular piece of horology than the 5970. It’s simply such a beautiful timepiece that it’s in a league of its own. No wonder the world of watch enthusiasts has kept its eye on this particular reference. It has so much to flaunt and hardly had anything remotely disappointing to converse. 

If anything, one thing I can complain about is the longevity of its production. For such a lustrous and complex timepiece, the amount of time it had in assembly was considerably short. There was only an estimated amount of 2,800 ever made, according to watch collector and Patek Philippe expert John Reardon. With only that many 5970s, you probably will not be seeing the whole in-person anytime soon. 

This beloved timepiece not only marked Thierry Stern’s spot in Patek Philippe’s lineage but also made Philippe Stern a contented and proud father.

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