|Case||39.5mm x 12.86mm, white gold|
|Dial||Blue with white gold appliques and hour markers. Central guilloché pattern, crafted by hand.|
|Movement||Self-winding calibre CH 28-520 HU. 343 parts|
|Crystal||Scratch resistant sapphire|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 30m / 98 ft|
|Power Reserve||50-55 hours|
|Functions||Time, chronograph, 30-minute counter, 24 hour day / night indicator for 24 time zones (world time)|
|Bracelet||Blue alligator strap with deployment clasp.|
Since 1839, Patek Philippe (originally Patek, Czapek and Cie) has been making exquisite time pieces. It is known not only for its movements and finishing, but also its complications, ranging from chronographs and perpetual calendars to minute repeaters, sonneries and the incorporation of an ability to track the stars. It is known as a member of the Holy Trinity, the most highly regarded of watch makers, along with Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin.
One such complication the maison uses is a ‘world time’, a function that allows you to instantaneously know the time in any time zone in the world… but it was not Patek who invented it. Emmanuel Cottier, born 1894, grew up watching his father build watches and, amongst those he created, was one of the earliest world time systems. Whilst his father’s was unsuccessful however, it paved the way for his son to take on that mantle and, in 1931, he invented the world time which, more or less, we know it as today. He named it the ‘heures universelles’ and it was the first to show a central local time with hour and minutes on a static dial, linking the hour hand and rotating inner ring together so that the hour hand rotated clockwise over 12 hours, whilst the inner ring ran counter clockwise over 24 hours. It is the outer ring that displays the 24 major cities of the world, corresponding to the 24 time zones, with the wearer setting the local city at 12o’clock.
As you might expect given the importance of this invention amidst burgeoning globalisation, this caught the eye of the major names in haute horology and, a year later, Vacheron engaged him to create a world time. Patek Philippe followed in 1937, with the reference 515R HU and, in 1940, created its one and only world time chronograph, the reference 1415-1j HU… or at least until 2016.
The Patek Philippe 5930G debuted at Baselworld in 2016 and was created as an homage to that famous 1940 reference. By this time, Cottier’s system had been updated by Patek and, in 1999, they had patented their ability to collectively correct all time zones at the press of a single button; meaning doing the same leaves the watch’s accuracy unaffected.
So what of this new reference? Does it live up to that stunning, original world time chronograph created 76 years previously?
At first blush, the dial might look a little complicated, as it does in all world time equipped pieces. This was one of the reasons why, in my view, whilst I could appreciate the others of this type currently produced (such as the reference 5131), the injection of colour with a world at the centre of the dial, when coupled with the names of the cities around the outside, was too much for my eyes. It seemed overly busy. Instead, in the 5930G, Patek has replaced the world with a beautiful hand guilloché’d centre, providing enough of a distinction between it and the outer rings, thereby increasing the wearer’s legibility of the time, but not enough for it to become cluttered or overbearing.
At six o’clock, within this sub dial, is the 30-minute chronograph function. Incorporating this into a world time and ensuring the watch retained clean lines was no mean feat but, to Patek’s considerable credit, they have done just that. To a certain extent, the chronograph’s use is limited, given it only runs for 30 minutes, but nevertheless it is a delightful design and, let’s face it, a Patek chronograph is always a little bit special.
Just outside the central dial is the 24-hour day / night indicator, which is not only extremely useful but also surprisingly legible. Then, marking that from the exterior time zone indicators is the seconds gradation, creating a delightful silvery white ring.
All of this is offset by a beautiful blue. It goes superbly with the white gold case and, when combined with the guilloché and silver / white accents, lends an understated elegance to the watch. In the maison’s advertising literature, it appears to be much lighter in tone than it actually is but, my opinion, that is a positive attribute; increasing its versatility and, ultimately, nobility.
The case and using the functions
Most ‘white gold’ watches are actually an alloy of 24ct yellow gold with rhodium plating, which gives the watch the desired appearance. That means over time the plating can tarnish, requiring the process to be repeated. In the 5930G’s instance however, Patek has actually used their own ‘white / grey gold’, meaning that should the precious time piece be scratched, simply more of the same is revealed.
The finishing is as you would expect of both Patek and a watch at this price point; exceptional. It is highly polished and reflects the light in stunning fashion but, I should add, not too much. This is a striking timepiece, for all the right reasons.
Given their rarity, this was the first Patek pusher system I had ever had the pleasure to operate… And I should emphasise the word ‘pleasure’. Starting with that at 11 o’clock, it is this button that allows the user to set the time zones and, in doing so, is possibly one of the most satisfying horological functions I have come across. You can both hear and feel each and every part in the watch moving every time its pressed, making it a somewhat addictive pass time… ‘oh… I should probably check the time in Karachi once more… just to be sure…’
Then there’s the chronograph with flyback function. Pushing the button at two o’clock starts and stops the seconds hand, which incidentally can be left running continuously without wearing out the 5930G’s mechanism because it uses a vertical clutch. The pusher at four o’clock allows the user to instantaneously reset the seconds and 30-minute timer without having to stop it first, hence it being known as a ‘flyback’. The best way to describe the action of all three is innately mechanical and satisfying. This sounds obvious but when operating such pieces, it’s the interaction you have with them that makes them stand out. And this one is of the highest order.
The case back and movement
The movement, calibre CH 28-520 HU, was developed specifically for the 5930G and in both functionality and aesthetics, it doesn’t disappoint. The finishing and layout is supreme with, perhaps, the pièce de résistance being the ability to intriguingly observe, through the sapphire crystal case back, the mechanism operating the chronograph function.
The Patek Philippe 5930G, in my view, not only pays homage to the famous 1415-1j HU but simultaneously makes it contemporary. Whilst its 30m water resistance means this is not a watch for water lovers, its size and beauty make it a beguiling companion in pretty much any other setting. It is the watch for those who do not need to shout about what they are wearing; but those in the know will instantly recognise it as a special time piece. When discussing this watch with a friend, he described it as the connoisseur’s choice; and it’s very difficult to argue with that.
The Patek Philippe 5930G retails at £56,430. Given the complication and price point, whilst it is not a limited edition, it is made in very small numbers and usually attracts an 18 – 24 month waiting list; meaning it is highly unlikely you will ever see another in ‘the wild’. This also means there is no real saving to be had on the secondary market; perhaps full price, minus local taxes, at absolute best.