Chopard is an intriguing brand. They have the history enthusiasts desire (yes, they were, first and foremost, a watch company, despite the common misconception), and the innovation coming from their ateliers today is enough to make any watch geek drool incessantly. Perhaps more impressive, though, is that Chopard is one of the few watch companies to own a gold foundry in which they expertly forge precious metal cases and jewelry. But why—then—is the company so senselessly pushed aside in debates involving high-end horology?
In a short span of only 20 years, Frederique Constant has come remarkably close to becoming a full-fledged manufacture for each and every one of its watches. Slowly but surely, the brand has supplemented existing production, which was initially based heavily upon ETA calibers, with works of art coveted by the watch community—that is, exclusive and lavishly decorated proprietary movements available at a reasonable price.
Many Frederique Constant models fare well next to the competition, but their manufacture collection presents a particularly fantastic value proposition. Much like Nomos, a brand revered for design prowess, integration, and innovation, Frederique Constant boasts similar achievements, though in a slightly different way. The brand dabbles in legitimate haute horology, for instance, through tourbillions, with clean design language and limited production numbers to boot. And, predictably, those carry a hefty price, but fear not; the tourbillons are merely a way to demonstrate dexterity and R&D as a relatively young brand, as technology and design trickles down to more affordable watches.
It should come as no surprise that Patek Philippe, one of the world’s premiere watchmakers, cleverly devised a line of timepieces to commemorate its 175th anniversary as a company. Four limited edition models, in an assortment of precious metals, sizes, and designs, celebrated the occasion—the 5575 (the 7175 being the ladies’ variant), 5975 (the 4675 being the ladies’ variant), 5275, and the astonishing 5175. But the cleanest and most restrained of the bunch is undeniably the 5975, a chronograph that functions differently from what one would expect of the complication.
More specifically, the 5975 features a seldom-seen layout in which the chronograph hand measures heart rate, distance from a stationary object, and speed over an established radius as it traverses the dial. Pulsimeter, telemeter, and tachymeter scales crowd the face, but with a bit of brain power and a penchant for pre-digital age means of making measurements, ease of use is high and never an eye sore during daily wear.
A brief breakdown of each scale:
Pulsimeter: taken directly from Patek’s press release: “medical heart rate measurements are expressed as the number of pulses per minute. To accelerate such measurements without having to wait for an entire minute while counting, the Multi-Scale Chronograph has a pulsimeter scale calibrated to 15 heartbeats (GRADUE POUR 15 PULSATIONS). If the Multi-Scale Chronograph is started when the first pulse is felt and stopped on the fifteenth, the pulsimeter scale display the number of pulses per minute. During their daily rounds in the wards, physicians once typically had to take the pulse of over a hundred patients. A pulsimeter watch saved them more than an hour a day.”
Telemeter: in the case of most watches utilizing a telemeter scale, distance from an object is measured in kilometers. The scale’s importance in military history is dually noted, as it was especially useful in determining the range between a gun and its target.
Tachymeter: the most common scale on chronographs. Calculates distance based on speed or speed based on a set amount of time.
In terms of construction, the 5975’s dial appears relatively basic at first glance, which looks out of place, given its hefty asking price. Until light reflects from the surface at a variety of angles—which reveals a glowing, three-dimensional hue, perfectly chamfered indices, and beveled dauphine hands—it seems like one of 5975’s weakest points. But perhaps that’s exactly as Patek intended—the face effortlessly captures the spirit of a vintage watch, and meticulously crafted details only present themselves under close, and careful, inspection. Think of the 5975 as a watch for those who prefer to live their lives under the radar, with none of the flashy glitz commonly associated with timepieces commanding astronomical prices.
Aesthetically, the 5975’s 40mm case falls in line with that mindset, too, being relatively simple aside from finely sculpted lugs that are detachable come service time. Even after a studious look at the overall package, one would be hard pressed to notice such a subtle detail—the fit is exceptionally tight and not unlike what Rolex has achieved in recent years with their cases and bracelets. But know that Patek is not Rolex and quiet brushing lining the sides of the pushers, for instance, elevates the 5975 into an entirely different class. And that’s only one example of its prowess.
Powering the 5975 is Patek’s proprietary caliber CH 28-520, which is an automatic movement, as opposed to a more appropriate manual wind that typically coincides with the company’s chronographs. Featuring a solid gold rotor, column wheel, vertical clutch, and 55 hours of power reserve, the movement comes in at 5.2mm in height, making the watch 10.25mm thick—extraordinarily thin for a contemporary chronograph. Patek’s quality seal also adorns the movement meaning a very high level of finish and accuracy—the 5975 is rated at -3/+2 seconds a day, even with the chronograph running.
But therein lies an issue: to maintain the watch’s thin profile, Patek chose to keep the 5975’s movement behind a closed back and a commemorative engraving. Reading “Patek Philippe Geneve 175e Anniversaire 1839-2014,” first impressions paint the presentation a bit of a letdown, but it suddenly makes sense, if only for the fact that the company is able to craft their products as they please and watch collectors eagerly line up for their next purchase. And, honestly, that speaks volumes of Patek’s reputation in the watch world, given that rarely do any of their products flop. A buyer always exists for the newest limited production Patek, no matter the amount of quirks, cost, or aesthetic.
The verdict: there’s no doubt that Patek Philippe has worked hard to earn the status it enjoys today, and the 5975, along with the rest of the 175th anniversary collection, is proof of that. As expected, none of these watches is perfect, and in the case of the 5975, its biggest setback is a lack of a display back and perhaps that the dial doesn’t jump out at you at first glance. A closer look, however, renders those thoughts obsolete—the 5975 is a stunning piece—aesthetically and technically—capable of captivating lucky collectors for years to come. Bravo, Patek Philippe. Bravo.
Included with the 5975 is a luxurious wood presentation box, celebrating Patek Philippe’s 175th anniversary. Particularly noteworthy is the commemorative inscription.
5975J – 18k yellow gold; limited to 400 units; priced at 53,000 CHF / $64,000
5975R – 18k rose gold; limited to 400 units; priced at 55,ooo CHF / $67,000
5975G – 18k white gold; limited to 400 units; priced at 55,000 CHF / $67,000
5975P – platinum; limited to 100 units; priced at 78,000 CHF / $95,000
When Ralph Lauren first entered the watchmaking business in 2009, aficionados balked at the idea of a timepiece with a fashion designer’s name imprinted on the dial. No matter the craftsmanship, the consistency of the design, or the quality of the movement, a watch emerging from a style guru’s empire just wasn’t going to cut it. Swept under the mat by enthusiasts, ignored the brand’s ambitions went, not unlike others who had attempted a horology upstart years before.