During the 2014 Basel world watch fair this year, there was a common trend emerging within the new Patek Philippe collection. A few weeks back we introduced you to the new 5960/1A, which will replace the current range. If you look a little further back into May, you’ll see we also posted an article on the new Nautilus 5990/1A, however, this timepiece has always been made in stainless steel not to mention other materials too. But you see, these timepieces are probably more aimed towards a youthful Patek watch collector, so we decided to look at something from Patek that was heading in the acier (steel) direction but had a much more seasoned connoisseur watch collecting audience in mind.
Actually introduced at Basel world watch fair 2010 the split-seconds monopusher chronograph ref. 5950A is a timepiece that is regarded so highly by Patek collectors and aficionados alike, it is just pure classic Patek. As you may have heard me mention before, some may find it strange that Patek Philippe’s stainless steel watches have always ranked among the most desirable timepieces but this is simply because they were only crafted in small numbers. You may or may not be aware but I have a bit of a thing for chronographs, but this isn’t just any chrono, this is a monopusher, spilt-seconds gentleman’s chronograph,that just oozes class, refinement and is actually quite wearable from day-to-day. I would even venture as far to say that you could probably wear it without many people actually noticing what you are wearing at all.
The 5950A rattrapante (split-seconds to my English speaking readers) chronograph sports an elegant, cushion-shaped, highly polished case in solid stainless steel measures 37 x 44.6mm and is water-resistant to 30 metres. Naturally at 2 is a single pump-style chronograph pusher, that is actuated with the absolute smoothness and sophistication one would expect from Patek. The sapphire-crystal glass is cushion-shaped as well and slightly cambered, as is the display back. It affords a view of the simply stunning mechanisms that forms the world’s thinnest split-seconds chronograph (which we will get to very soon) with column-wheel control. A satin-finished surround with gold-filled engravings frames the calibre. Owners who are taken aback by the allure of the movement can have the sapphire-crystal case back replaced with the solid metal back that is supplied with the watch but in my humble opinion is not something I would recommend. The steel case comes on a hand-stitched brown alligator strap with a pin buckle that is actually made from 18 carat solid white gold and is decorated with a black-lacquered engraving, similar to those seen on the dial and calibre frame.
The matt silvery sheen of the dial of the Ref. 5950A matches the deep gloss of the polished steel case. The crisp railway track minute scale frames the dial and technical look of the split-seconds chronograph. The four dial corners between the circular minute scale and the cushion-shaped bezel are decorated with fine black-lacquered engravings that add a touch of elegance. Short time and lap-time measurements are performed with black oxidised, counterbalanced chronograph and rattrapante hands. The time of day is indicated with two blackened leaf-shaped hands in 18-carat white gold that point at applied Breguet numerals, also in blackened 18-carat white gold. The dial has two sub dials with intricate circular guilloche patterns: the running seconds are displayed at 9 o’clock, and the continuously running 60-minute counter is positioned at 3 o’clock. Both leaf-shaped sub dial hands are made of black oxidized 18-carat white gold to match the overall personality of the watch.
Patek Philippe today offer probably one of the widest ranges of high-end calibres in the world, I mean, just looking through a current catalogue you’ll see pages and pages of highly finished, incredibly crafted mechanical movements and the calibre found in this 5950A is nothing short of stunning. Introduced in 2005, the CHR 27-525 PS is the world’s thinnest column-wheel split-seconds chronograph movement and as usual the naming of the movement has a story: 27 (27mm in diameter), 525 (5.25mm in height) and PS (stands for petite seconds).
Patek even went through the trouble of setting up a separate department in 2003 explicitly to develop this very first proprietary chronograph movement. Their goal wasn’t to break a record; it was to explore creative solutions for Patek Philippe’s future chronograph calibres, which we have witnessed. However, the strict procedure each movement endures, you could say, is just pure watchmaking love. You see every single CHR 27-525 PS movement is manually crafted in the manufacture’s haute horlogerie ateliers. Each movement is composed of components that are individually filed, chamfered, polished, adjusted, and finished. When all the parts are ready, they are assembled, after which all functions are tested. The entire movement is then disassembled again. Once all parts have been meticulously cleaned, they are reassembled, lubricated, and fine-tuned – making the CHR 27-525 PS one of Patek’s finest Grande Complications.
Of course all of this high attention to detail comes at a price – in excess of 440,000 CHF to be frank – but when you consider the 5950A is made in a very small quantity of numbers each year and even those are application pieces, it all starts to make sense. The 5950A is a piece you’ll seldom see in the metal but this is what makes Patek, well, Patek. These are those stainless steel pieces that in decades to come, purists will be salivating over – if not already. Added for 2014, the 5950 is now available with different dial options and also a droplet-style bracelet, which adds more vintage character to this timepiece.
For more information on the split-seconds monopusher chronograph ref. 5950A, visit the official Patek Philippe website.