Originally Posted by no frills
I generally agree with this statement, although you'll want to consider dial design, formality of the strap versus bracelet, the precious metal used to make the watch, the height of the watch (does it slip discreetly into your formal jacket's cuff?) and your own personal preferences.
I like 36mm, and I think this particular watch of mine, for example, straddles the balance between formal wear (business suits, tuxedoes) and casual (weekend wear, shirt/jeans). Indeed, the case size is 36mm!
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
1. Dial design: the balance of various subdials given the perpetual calendar complication renders it for me quite appealing for formal wear, but the chronograph function gives it a "sporty" edge that goes well with casual wear.
2. Formality of strap versus bracelet: Leather straps are pretty flexible for me, perfectly at home in formal settings but also acceptable for casual wear. This one is in black but I think if it came in brown that might work even better for casual wear - but maybe not for black tie events.
3. Precious metal: This piece is made of platinum, which tends to fly under the radar (which I like). Depending on the finishing some people can't even distinguish it from stainless steel. That gives it the "sporty" edge for me that allows me to wear it with casual stuff - yellow gold might not go as well with ripped jeans. This one (for me) works just fine.
4. Height of the watch: This is where the 13mm height of this 3970P can be hit or miss. It is arguable that the sub-9mm height of the Patek 3940 is better for formal wear. But the extra heft and height delivered by the chrono movement (I have yet to see an "ultra thin chronograph") appeals to me for casual wear, while the watch is just short enough to slip under my (formal) jacket's cuff. Any taller/thicker/meatier and I think I'd be uncomfortable pairing this with formal wear.
5. Personal preference: Hey. At the end of the day the above reasons justify my use of this watch for both formal and casual wear. These are my reasons. It's perfectly fine if you disagree with me and if you think my reasoning is bullsh*t and my sense of style sucks.
Hey, I wear my perpetual calendar chronos with a beat up Uniqlo undershirt (two for $12.99 baby). Can't get more casual than that I suppose, unless I took my shirt off. Standard "Frills shot" (according to Newcomer) below.
36mm is really a great size in terms of making a watch quite versatile. A Rolex Datejust or Explorer 1 in 36mm cases are great examples of versatility.
Your 3970 is a stunner! However, IMHO, it just doesn't work for me as a casual watch with a T-shirt. I think it can be worn with casual or business casual but the T-shirt is just far too casual. The white metal is more understated than yellow, and yes a chronograph is often a sporty complication, however I find its overall look, thin bezel, perpetual calendar function, delicately marked dial, and the history of its predcessors such as the 2499, just pushes it too far over the line to really work as a casual watch with a T shirt and jeans. The T-shirt and jeans look just works better with your Ex1, Daytona, and Nautilus. If your watch was simply a Patek Chronograph, then maybe I could better see it with a t-shirt, but even then I think it would look better with a long sleeve shirt with collar or polo shirt when wearing jeans. I just don't think a 2499 would look good with a t-shirt and jeans and the 3970 is quite similar, but more modern. When I see your "Classic Frills" T-shirt pose with the 3970, my first thought is you are not finished getting dressed Still its a fantastic watch and its always a pleasure to see your Pateks in photos.
Originally Posted by no frills
There is something to be said about whether aesthetics sing to you or not - and the combination of specific complications is part of this. For several posts, Dino944 stated how the Patek 5059's choice of cutting off the "15" and "17" in the retrograde date function didn't sit well with him visually: I had the same visceral reaction when I saw the 5059, and I really tried to like it as it has great virtues (the officer/hunter's case is to die for). I tried wearing it over and over again (six times) - but at the end it didn't sing to me as "perfect" versus, say, the 3970's overall design and choice of complications.
When I wore it on my wrist a few things bothered me:
Anyway, these were my niggly thoughts about the 5496P. I'm sure some people love it. If it sings to you, that's fantastic. It's got to feel perfect for you, there must be no tradeoffs, there can't be a single feeling of "man this watch is awesome, but...." ... not at these price points.
They got everything correct with the 5050. The 5059, the chopped date is a compromise forced adding the printed minute track with a ring around the top and bottom of the Roman hour markers. So while not perfect in design, I can understand it. The 5496 is overall very nice watch, but the dial is too barren, and it makes no sense not to restore the dates when they have an overal larger watch and dial, and they have gone back to hour and minute markers that are the same as on some of the 5050s. There is plent of room to give the 5496 full dates, but they chose not to. While I wouldn't kick it to the curb if someone gave one to me, its design does not sit well with me.