2016 / PATEK PHILIPPE
Patek Philippe's biggest announcement at Baselworld 2016 was a new world time chronograph: the reference 5930. We had a chance to spend some time with it in the hand, and on the wrist, and we've formulated some first impressions of this new flagship complicated watch from one of the world's most famous, and most intensely scrutinized, luxury watch companies.
The base caliber is the self-winding chronograph caliber CH 28-520, which was first used by Patek Philippe in the annual calendar chronograph 5960P (P for platinum) in 2006. This was Patek's first ever in-house self-winding chronograph, and the base movement, according to Patek, is 33 mm x 4.9 mm (that is, the chronograph mechanism alone, absent the annual calendar plate). The addition of the world time complication module in the 5930 brings the total thickness of the movement to 7.91 mm and ups the diameter to 33 mm.
So what we have mechanically is a self-winding flyback chronograph with world time indication, though I think for many, the first intuitive visual impression is going to be of a world time watch with the addition of a chronograph. There's a reason for that – both in pictures and in person, the world time elements really seem to predominate. The prominent city and 24 hour rings, as well as the general dial execution, all make this seem like a world time watch first and a chronograph second (which is not necessarily a bad thing; it's just where the design emphasis seems to lie). The chronograph elements are pretty subdued, overall, and seem thoughtfully integrated to the rest of the design. As well, the case is still pretty classically sized, at 39.5 mm x 12.86 mm – Patek makes a point of noting in the press release that keeping thickness, in particular, under control, was both a major priority and a bit of a challenge, as the automatic winding system, chronograph works, and world time plate all had to be extensively reconfigured from extant layouts.
The reference 5930 basically reads visually very similarly to the new reference 5230 World Time watch, also introduced this year (partly, says Patek, in response to what it calls "politically motivated" changes to local time management in certain geographic regions). The differences between 5930 and 5230 are numerous, but taken individually, pretty subtle, so they don't seem terribly drastic or dramatic: handset, the addition of two pushers, the presence of a 30-minute counter, a seconds track for the central chronograph seconds hand, and longer indexes.
One interesting difference between 5930 and 5230 is that the guilloché pattern is simpler in the former than the latter; a wise decision, as the greater number of visual elements in the 5930 would probably have clashed with the more ornate pattern used in 5230. The relatively straightforward guilloché treatment of the 5930 is a much better match for the additional dial features associated with the flyback chronograph (as we mentioned in our earlier coverage, by the way, since there is no running seconds hand, the movement is designed so you can keep the chronograph running continuously without any adverse effect on accuracy or danger of excessive wear to any part of the going train, or chronograph train.
On the wrist, this is a very easy-to-wear wristwatch – not unobtrusive exactly, but comfortable, easy to read, and certainly with a lot of the quiet but definite presence you associate with Patek. You definitely get the impression that it was designed to feel a bit more contemporary than Patek's world time watches have been in the past, and whether or not you really want that in this particular complication (or combination of complications) from this particular company is going to have a lot to do with whether you decide you want the watch. Though rare, the addition of a chronograph to the world time complication makes for an extremely practical traveler's timepiece, and the 5930 has a lot to recommend it – if what you're interested in is a more modern take on one of the most generally traditionally oriented complications that Patek Philippe makes.