INTRODUCING: Patek Philippe Ref. 5373P-001 Split-Seconds Monopusher Chronograph with Perpetual Calendar
Patek Philippe releases a left-handed chronograph, the first in its recent history.
Among mainstream retailers, left-handed watches are few and far between. Often monikered as “Destro” (which refers to right-handed in Italian), which may add to the confusion for many, most left-handed models are produced in limited numbers. Few appear as part of the catalogue, simply because left-handers number around 10 percent of the population; it doesn’t seem wise to create a product that’s limited to a niche group.
Interestingly enough, many Destro models are worn by right-handed collectors. They note the convenience of having the crown on the left, making it easier to wind the watch and adjust the time when needed. Though the logic is to wear the watch on the left hand to avoid pressing the crown against the wrist, most wear Destro watches on the right.
This may explain why Rolex chose to release a left-hand model of the GMT-Master II this year, and why Patek Philippe has introduced a grand complication in a left-hand configuration – the Reference 5373P-001 Split-Seconds Monopusher Chronograph for Left-Handers with Perpetual Calendar. And yes, Patek Philippe is one of the few to state the configuration in the watch’s name.
For the Southpaw
There are few examples of left-hand models ever created by Patek Philippe. In 1989 and 2006, Antiquorum and Christie’s respectively auctioned off an early 18k gold “carré cambré” or cushion-style case with a single split-seconds chronograph. This reference was produced in 1925 and was noted for its uniqueness. The movement was produced by Victorin Piguet & Co., and the Christie’s piece in 2006 fetched an auction price of CHF 2,372,000.
Only one other left-handed model wristwatch has been seen from Patek Philippe – an Officer’s model produced in 1912 in a round case with grand feu enamel dial and a small seconds display at the 12 o’clock position. This was because the modification of the watch required the rotation of the movement by 180 degrees, and thus the seconds display which is usually at 6, wound up at 8.
That example reveals the challenges watchmakers face when it comes to producing models for southpaws: by rotating the movement, they need to completely re-design the dial display so it makes proper sense. Other watchmakers may choose to re-engineer the movement to accomplish this feat, but that would be a laborious endeavour for this watch.
The grand complication movement CHR 27-525 PS Q powers the Ref. 5373P-001. The calibre is Patek Philippe’s slimmest split-seconds chronograph with perpetual calendar, fully developed in-house. The split-seconds chronograph is laterally coupled with double column wheel control, and at just 5.25mm thick, runs incredibly smoothly. First released in 2005 on the Ref. 5959, the calibre featured several patented innovations, such as the teeth design of the chronograph’s gear wheels to decrease friction and minimise chronograph “jumping” during resetting.
The date counter which is usually presented with the moonphase display, is now located at 12 o’clock, while the running seconds is at 3 instead of 9, switching places with the totaliser. Month and day displays are in apertures on each side, reversed again (most Patek Philippe perpetual calendars show the day before the month). The leap year and day/night indicators, usually on the lower half of the dial and on the right and left respectively, are also flipped over, now appearing next to the date counter. The chronograph pusher, which is usually positioned at 2 o’clock, now appears at 8 o’clock.
A Field Aesthetic
As most existing left-hand watch models are designed for tool or field watches, Patek Philippe has also readily embraced that aesthetic for the Ref. 5373P-001. The applied Arabic indexes are in a block-style font, as are all the counter indications. The brushed dial in a charcoal grey gradient hue matches the black counters, and adds a strong contrast with the bold red chronograph hands and deep blue of the moonphase display. Furthermore, the watch is offered with a calfskin strap embossed with a woven fabric pattern that gives it a rugged, military look. This contrasts with the 38mm platinum case that is polished to a mirror finish.
Patek Philippe specifies that the timepiece is produced in a small series, and given its limited numbers of perpetual calendar chronographs made each year, this will likely be an even rarer production. That both makes it highly coveted and also a unique watch. Given that the last left-handed split-second chronograph was in 1925, it may be a long time before another similar model emerges.
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