Patek Philippe 3970 / Patek Philippe 5004 Watch Review

ARTICLE DATE 12/02/2014

Patek Philippe 3970 / Patek Philippe 5004 Watch Review

Patek Philippe 3970 vs Patek Philippe 5004 Watch Review

One of Patek Philippe’s best know Perpetual Calendar Chronograph watches is the

Reference 3970 model produced for nearly 20 years from 1986 to 2005.

The Patek Philippe 3970 combines two watch complications: The Perpetual

Calendar, which tracks the day, date, month, moonphase & leap year, with the

Chronograph complication used for timing racing with this stop watch feature.

The 3970, an outstanding example of a watch with multiple complications, has an

even more complicated companion in the Grand Complication line of Patek watches:

the reference 5004 model – produced from 1996 to 2011 – The two watches are

near twins in overall appearance but the 5004 has the additional complication of the

split-second chronograph. The Split-second chronograph (also known as a Dopple-

Chronograph, or Rattrapante) allows the user to time multiple fractions of an event,

or multiple 2nd competitors stopping and starting independently of one and other,

through the use of an additional pusher in the crown.

A closer look at these examples in our collection will show some their similarities

and differences:

The dial

Both models throughout their production lifetimes had some dial variations. In

these two examples it is easy to see differences in the hour-markers and the shape

of the hands but you can see that the layout of the dial and placement of the sub

dials are identical.

The dial displays a continuous subsidiary seconds dial, a 30 minute chronograph

register, and indication of the day, date, month, cycle of the leap year, 24 hour

AM/PM and the phases of the moon.

The case

Both watches have a 36mm case diameter. The overall shape of the case and lugs are

the same. Both watches feature a movement under glass sapphire crystal caseback

and an additional interchangeable solid case back.

There are two slight differences: the 5004 split-second Chronograph has slightly

protruding corrector buttons on the side of the case while those of the 3970 are

flush with the case. Also the 5004 case is slightly thicker – this was needed to house

the additional mechanical complication of the split-second Chronograph.

The Crown

One of the most easily recognizable differences between the watches is the crown.

In order to operate the Split-Second Chronograph an additional Chronograph button

is needed. This button is located in the center of the winding crown in the 5004.

The Movement

Both watches are based on a Lemania 2310 movement and much of the mechanism

is identical in the two watches. When you look closely at the movements of both

watches though through the sapphire crystal back, you can see the additional

complication of the split second near the center of the movement on the 5004.

Chronograph vs Split-Second Chronograph

The main difference of course between the two watches is in the functionality of a

chronograph watch versus a Split-Second Chronograph watch. A regular

chronograph watch works as a stop-watch to time an event. Pushing the top button

at 2 o’clock activates the chronograph and the center second hand begins timing.

Pushing the top button again will stop and restart the chronograph. With the

Chronograph stopped pressing the bottom button will reset the chronograph to


The Split-second Chronograph also works in this same way when timing a single

event. It has two center Second hands that travel around the dial in unison. Pressing

the center button in the winding crown will stop the first hand while the second

continues around the dial. Pressing the center button will re-synchrononize the two

hands. This type of timing could be useful for example if you are timing someone

running laps around a track you could time their overall time while also timing an

individual lap.

The Ref. 5004 Split Second chronograph is the most complicated model in Patek

Philippe’s line of stopwatches and demonstrates their expertise in the manufacture

of highly complicated timepieces.