I just received the Vacheron Constantin Platine perpetual chronograph ref #47212 and thought it would be interesting to do a comparison between it and the Patek 5970G. Since I own both watches and in my opinion are perfect examples of grand complicated watches (Patek’s definition) from premier watch manufacturers. I hope to be as objective as possible. My purpose is not to make a case that one is better than the other but hopefully look at each objectively and highlight the pros and cons of each (as I see them) and want to hear from other what their opinions are, i.e. create a dialog.
General information: The 5970 is 40mm in diameter and just over 13mm thick. It has the manual wind, modified Lemania base movement with 24 jewels and a free sprung balance. The case is made of white gold.
The 47212 is 42mm in diameter and is exactly 13mm thick making it just a smidgeon thinner than the 5970, yet visually the 5970 doesn’t look it. The 47212 is also a manual wind modified Lemania base movement and has 21 jewels with a swan neck fine adjusted balance. The case is made of platinum.
The 47212 is limited production of 50 watches. The 5970G is discontinued, not sure of the production numbers, but can be assured there was more than 50.
Case: Getting beyond that the 4721 is platinum Vs the 5970’s white gold, both are made to the highest standards and both are equally aesthetically pleasing. The one negative comment on the 47212 is there’s too much writing on the back of the case. On the 5970 the setting pins for the calendar stick out just enough to catch your eye and would have preferred them to be flush to the case. I believe they did it this way is because they are not located on the top of the curve side so you either see the pin or part of the hole that the pusher sets in. I do prefer the round chronograph pushers on the 47212 vs the rectangular ones on the 5970, but this is a personal preference. The platinum does give more depth to the finish vs the WG but again this is a personal preference. Both watches sit very nice on the wrist and both have a pleasing aspect ratio between the case diameter to the case thickness. The lugs for both cases are interesting to look at, perhaps the 47212 malte having a more art deco look which is part of the Vacheron DNA.
If you compare quality, finish, and styling both are equal.
Movement: Both movements are derivatives of Lemania. Looking closely at the finishing it appears that the 5970 is better. In particular on the plate edges and the countersinking around the jewels have greater depth and exposure and shows off the polishing much better. There are 2 new bridges made by Patek that enhance the look of the movement.
The biggest difference is the 5970 has the free sprung balance vs the 47212 has the swan neck fine adjust. I still have some difficulty with accepting the free sprung as being preferred over the swan neck fine adjustment. I will concede the free sprung design has proven itself to be better in time trials and is preferred by many watchmakers as being superior in design. My problem is:
1) I love the aesthetic look of the swan neck, it’s very elegant.
2) How much more accurate can it be? Let’s face it one of the best chronograph movements made is the Lange Datograph and what do they have…The swan neck fine adjust. I also have a chronometer royal that was timed after 15 days with zero loss of time. Perhaps it’s over rated or over hyped, I don’t know but I don’t see it as a major enhancement!
When I actuated the pushers for the chronograph on the 5970 there’s some resistance but begin/stop/reset perfectly. When I did the same for the 47212 it also worked perfectly except when you pushed down on the actuators the resistance was minimal, very similar to the Datograph…much smoother than the 5970.
Dials: The 47212 dial is platinum with a very fine and consistent sand blast finish which gives you a different look depending on the angle and how the light hits it. The hour markers are applied white gold with a 1/5 of a sec track around the perimeter. The 5970 is a silvery opaline finish also with white gold applied hour markers and a 1/5 of a sec track plus a tachometric track. By not having the tachy track the 47212 has a much cleaner approach and clarity which helps my old eyes, but if you’re into road racing perhaps you would want the tachy track.
The 47212 sub dials have a single function only, one being a sub-second hand and the other the minute counter. Both of the 5970 sub dials have 2 functions, one is for the sub second/day night and the other is a minute counter/leap year indicator. The 47212 has a separate aperture for the leap year and does not have a day/night indicator. Again the 47212 has greater clarity being the dials are larger and less cluttered. The window for the leap year indicator on the 47212 is very small (good thing you only need it every 4 years), which means the numeral is also small (bad thing, I cannot read it well). It would be nice if the leap year instead of being a numeral was a red dot making it obvious instead of looking through a magnifying glass to tell which year you’re on. BTW is leap year #1 or #4???? I like red dots!!!!
If I had one thing to change on the 47212 it would be the size and location for the apertures for the DAY/MONTH. I would have moved them closer to the 12 position and made the apertures a little larger. I would of have made the font much bolder. The Day/MONTH on the 5970 is better and easier to read and isn’t that the purpose for the windows.
The hands on both watches are very elegant. The 47212 sword minute/hour hands and is almost monochromatic and is very pleasing to the eyes. The same can be said for the 5970 with very elegant blued hands as a nice contrast against the opaline dial.
The moon phase on the 47212 is in a league unto itself. It’s a platinum hand engraved, painted background and has both a smiling moon and a melancholy moon all hand carved surrounded by raised stars which gives a 3 dimensional feel to it and has more hand workmanship. The 5970 is more traditional with 2 silver moons surrounded by stars. Moon and stars are gold evaporated in a vacuum and is condensed onto a sapphire disc.
The box the 47212 comes with has a built in winder. I have not seen the box yet so I have no comments but it’s a nice feature to have for a perpetual.
V&C 47212: Pros: Platinum vs White Gold.
Chronograph actuator much smoother to operate
Dial: surface finish more interesting (personal opinion).
Cleaner look less cluttered (personal opinion).
Cons: Movement finish could be improved and new bridge would be nice.
Location and size of the day/month apertures.
Leap year indicator size (red dot?)
To much writing on case back.
Patek 5970: Pros: Movement finish and additional bridges.
Free sprung balance?
Location and size of the day/month apertures.
Cons: Chronograph actuators.
Dial is too busy (personal opinion).
Calendar actuators protrude from case.