comparison between Vacheron 47212 & Patek 5970G

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.
comparison between Vacheron 47212 & Patek 5970G
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.

comparison between Vacheron 47212 & Patek 5970G
comparison between Vacheron 47212 & Patek 5970G
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.

comparison between Vacheron 47212 & Patek 5970G
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.

Summary:
V&C 47212: Pros: Platinum vs White Gold.
Limited production.
Chronograph actuator much smoother to operate
Dial: surface finish more interesting (personal opinion).
Cleaner look less cluttered (personal opinion).
Platinum.
Moon phase.
Winding box.
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.

Thanks John for the comparison report
05/11/2008 - 17:55

I too prefer the aesthetics of the movement on the 5970 don't know if the free sprung balance is more accurate but over the long term it doesn't cause the same isochronism to the balance spring as one with a regulator. I like the dial of the Malte better cleaner and the sand-blasted platinum look is awesome and the moonphase. Can't go wrong with either one that the best of breed there

Hi mario, good point about the isochronism...nt
05/11/2008 - 23:58

nt

isochronism
05/12/2008 - 05:10

Hi Mario,

Could you elaborate more on this idea of free sprung vs regulator on the isochonism of the spring?

Thanks,

KCC

Re: isochronism
05/12/2008 - 11:06

First lets start with the definition as related to watch

the property of having the same period of oscillation.

-With a balance with a regulator the index is attached to the balance spring via 2 pins depending on with direction you turn either shortening or lengthening the balance spring making it run faster(shorten spring)  or slower (lengthen spring). This over time causes more stress/strain on the spring.

-On a free sprung balance it has regulating weights on the rim of the balance you turn 2 opposing weights to either speed up or slow down the oscillation with out changing the length of the spring.

That's my understanding all corrections welcome maybe real watchmaker might chip in.

Excellent article on free sprung vs regulator...
05/12/2008 - 19:00
A very well known independent watchmaker recently told me that
05/12/2008 - 20:54

the debate between regulator and free sprung is not really relevant today. For him a balance with a regulator is more traditional and needs much more hard work to regulate whereas the free sprung is more or less an easier solution as once the balance is regulated you no longer touch anything, even after servicing. You can't really say one is more acurate than the other its just one is easier to regulate (free sprung) than the other (regulator).

Thanks Alex, I had heard the same thing, but it was 3rd
05/12/2008 - 22:07

hand information. It's nice to hear this confimed by a professional.

Mr L

Great article
05/13/2008 - 04:56

Very informative, thanks.

KCC

Very complete review, John.
05/11/2008 - 18:33

I would agree with you, but I would add that VC should have avoided writing PT950 on the dial!

Except this, both are 2 beautiful watches.

Congrats for your catch.

Cheers, Patrice

Thanks patrice, for some the 950P on the dial doesn't
05/11/2008 - 23:59

bother me that much..not sure why.

Mr L

the best of both worlds! Thanks Mr.L for a very detailed report I
05/11/2008 - 19:52

agree with almost all your comments. I would say the 5970 case is more masculine and modern (even though I still think it is too ressemblant to the Dato case) whereas the VC case is more suave and sensual. One thing about the Malte case is that it really should be seen in the flesh and tried on as it really looks much better in real than in scans (no matter what scan, not yours in particular John ).

One has to admit that the 5970 has the iconic touch of its forefathers the 2499, 3970 etc.. as it is an evolving design of the past 50+ years.

PS: I'm putting this up in the Recommended Threads section

hi Alex, thanks for your inputs as usual they
05/12/2008 - 00:05

are spot on. Especially the part about the case design following the pattern of its fore fathers. This goes back to Vacheron having had a period where it lost its identity but I think this will be a thing of the past as V&C introduces more of its historique line, along with the Explorer, comteporaine, and Qdi.

Mr L

ps...thanks for putting it up on the Recommended Threads its quite an honor

This is what makes HL so special! An excellent and objective
05/11/2008 - 20:11

comparaison report!

Thank you JohnLy for a great write up and for your comments. I have a slight preference for the PP as I prefer the pushers but the platinum dial and moonphase of the VC are however almots reasons enough to buy the watch

Re: This is what makes HL so special! An excellent and objective
05/12/2008 - 14:23

Thank you. The 5970 is an Icon watch no doubt, but the 47212 has a certain depth to it. When I out them side by side my eye gravitates to the Vacheron..

I posted this on another web site in the Patek forum and as I mentioned to one responder that its good to get out and try something different.

Mr L

Amazing write up, it's a true reference material. Thank you NT
05/11/2008 - 20:15

.

great & informative read on the finest in haute horologerie, John
05/11/2008 - 23:51

Thank you for your comparison report. Very informative and a learning material for me.

Just to add my 2c: no doubt platinum + ultra limited edition of 47212 puts it way ahead of 5970. Also cleaner dial on 47212 as well as the moonphase design are more to my liking.

The only advantage of PP (I actually never thought I would say this) would be the finish on its movement.

Once again, congrats John!

Hi Radek, thanks for the comments,
05/12/2008 - 14:08

Keeping our objectivity and constructive criticism is a good thing. Customer feed back is what improves the next generation products or at least I hope it does.

Mr L

Ok John, my friend,
05/11/2008 - 23:52

I'm actually appreciated by my patients of being honest,

and sometimes also being to over informative( can't find the right word),

but seeing your comparision is as I have tried myself

To be absolute honest, even though V&C, are burned in my forehead,

the movement in general is more beautiful on the PP,

no discussion about that.

On the other hand I have always had faiblesse for traditional regulators,

gyromax and it's collegaues is for the watch I'm wearing right now, a Rolex....

I love the design of a watch, and when you see those beautiful watches beside each others,

there is one who is a bit near a Breitling.. and that's not

If I had to chose, I wouldn't hesitate a second, and I really hope that I soon will be in the position,

and buy a V&C in PT, but I have another in my aim..

The older I get the more I lost interest for complications,

OK, the jump hou, quarterrepeater from 1827,

I just had to get, and that would all of you too..

This is an example of that I five years ago bought "everything"....

that was limited, this made only 20-30 pieces of,

and I could get it to reasonable price, and tht it was

pictured in a book of classic watches...

What I trying to say, is that you are extremely lucky to have these two beautiful watches,

which only you, John, can tell which gives you the utmost feeling.

The Jalousie don't give me that feeling, to be honest,

but everyone who has seen it says, WOW...

Less is always more beautiful...

Wear them both or one of them with pride

You know which I had kept

Congrats

Doc

Doc, thank you for your kind words
05/12/2008 - 14:12

I would like to see the picture of the Breitling, I think I know the one.

Your going to need an armed guard with you when you wear that jalousie...WOW.

Mr L

No the opposite John,
05/12/2008 - 15:57

here it's among other watches at a visit to the AP factory!

At the bottom of the photo.

I wore it for a week

Thta's what our watches are for !

Cheers

and once again congrats

Doc

haven't seen the VC in real . but have to agree with your comparison..
05/13/2008 - 13:14

based on pics and some imagination. many a times watches like VC looks better in real and on one's wrist especially at the retailer's, that explains the push off the cliff in some instances :).

like the VC for :

the micro- blasted dial

simplicity of layout

its metal : platinum

engraved moon

like the PP for :

size of aperture

aesthetics of the movement : especially size of the gyromax balance wheel , do not know if its better , but from published article, seems better

having handled the 5970 and regrettably let one in RG go, i would say that it is an excellent work, which i cannot fault because of its wonderful size on my wrist and a strong resemblance of the good old day's (vintage) calendar chronograph.

the VC is a different beast altogether, i feel that the VC is a more contemporary- looking watch because of its size,metal and micro-blasted dial. though have not seen the watch before, i can envisage this modern beauty although i hesitate on the sub-dial nearness to the centre and the smaller day/month aperture.

both are beautiful watches and thank u for the review. again , enjoy both watches with good health.