For a generic distribution of rank two on a manifold $M$ of dimension five, we introduce the notion of a generalized contact form. To such a form we associate a generalized Reeb field and a partial connection. From these data, we explicitly constructed a pseudo--Riemannian metric on $M$ of split signature. We prove that a change of the generalized contact form only leads to a conformal rescaling of this metric, so the corresponding conformal class is intrinsic to the distribution. In the second part of the article, we relate this conformal class to the canonical Cartan connection associated to the distribution. This is used to prove that it coincides with the conformal class constructed by Nurowski.