Ask any watch collector, “Who makes the best complicated watches?” and I’m guessing Patek Philippe will be in his or her top three 99% of the time, if not every time. The brand has become synonyms with precision watchmaking; they have mastered the integration of multiple complications in one watch while doing so with a level of elegance and artistry other brands can only strive for. The Patek Philippe reference 5204 Split-Seconds Chronograph with Perpetual Calendar is a stunning example of the Swiss watchmakers many achievements.
From 1996 to 2011, Patek Philippe produced the 5004, a gorgeous split-second chronograph that was essentially a 3970 with a split-second feature. In 2012 Patek built upon that watch with the released of the 5204 in platinum with a white dial. At 40mm, the 5204 is slightly (about 4mm) larger than the 5004, and wears very well without feeling oversized. The watch has a number of features, including day, date, month and moonphase calendar, as well as a leap year calendar and night hours indicator. On top of all of that, it also features the split second chronograph which allows the user to time two concurrent events (like those two thoroughbreds you have in training and you need to time both of them at once.)
The first 5204, released in 2012, had a platinum case and white dial, then two years later they released the perpetual split-second chrono in platinum with a black dial. Then came a 5204 in rose gold with a white dial, then in 2016 Patek Philippe released the 5204 in rose gold with a black dial on a rose gold bracelet.
Regardless of the metal and dial combinations, this watch is a stunner. It is a feat in watchmaking and a masterpiece in art and design. To many this is, and certainly deserves to be, the ultimate grail watch. As Hodinkee’s Jack Forster put it, the 5204 is “a reminder of why Patek enjoys the reputation that it does.”
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