Patek Philippe Split Seconds Chronograph, 5004, White Gold

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Produced between 1996 to 2012, the reference 5004 is one of the last examples of a particular lineage of Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronographs, and is an ambitious attempt at combining a split-seconds chronograph with a perpetual calendar complication. It is believed that out of all the precious metal examples produced, white gold is the rarest, making this a highly sought-after piece by collectors.

Perpetual Calendars

“Of course, watchmakers just love a perpetual calendar,” enthuses Stephane Widmer, technical office manager for Bovet. “I mean, here’s a complication, parts of which don’t move for hundreds of days and then which have to move precisely at one particular time on one particular day. It’s mechanically pure – and us watchmakers tend to be a bit square. Admittedly it’s not a very playful complication – you can’t press buttons and see something happen for the fun of it. That said, we do have customers who get together to sit and wait for midnight on a leap year to see the date flip over. The perpetual calendar inspires that kind of adulation.”

Indeed, it may come down to a tie with a minute repeater, but the mechanical perpetual calendar is certainly one of the most complicated of complications – after all, it displays the date in a way that, unlike most watches, not only allows for the various number of days in different months, but also compensates for leap years, such that a perpetual calendar worn consistently from today won’t need resetting until 2100.