If you’re anything like me, you were most likely caught a bit off-guard earlier this year when luxury watch manufacturer Patek Philippe announced that it would no longer be making its highly coveted annual calendar automatic chronograph Reference 5960 in precious metals. Not so much because Patek was ceasing production of a popular reference – which in and of itself is not that uncommon an occurrence – but rather because the replacement is being offered in a stainless steel case.
By way of background, when the 5960 originally made its debut in 2006 it was Patek Philippe’s first ever automatic chronograph, which meant it quickly caught the attention of collectors. Back then it was exclusively available in a gorgeous platinum case, putting it out of reach of all but the most affluent consumers. Subsequent dial variations followed in rose gold, however they have now all been discontinued in favour of the new Ref. 5960/1A.
Now this is of course good news for a several reasons. Firstly, if you are already fortunate enough to own an original Ref 5960 in a precious metal, you can rest easy in the knowledge that its value will only continue to increase exponentially over time. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly to the rest of us, Patek Philippe has just given a whole new audience – many of whom were previously priced out of this exclusive market – the opportunity to own one of its complicated timepieces.
Known simply as the Ref 5960/1A, this new timepiece is anything but. Although not as glamorous as its predecessor it still houses the same CH 28-520 IRM QA 24H automatic movement, which features annual calendar and chronograph complications. Housed in a very wearable 40.5mm stainless steel case complete with matching steel bracelet and fold-over clasp, the watch looks and feels good on the wrist. There is still a decent weight to it too although admittedly it doesn’t feel quite as substantial as piece in say solid platinum (not that you would expect it to.)
The use of steel, combined with the more colourful face (relatively speaking of course), also gives it a slightly sportier feel. I haven’t decided whether that is entirely a good thing or not just yet but it certainly does give the Ref 5960/1A a younger, fresher appeal, which I sometimes find lacking in Patek Philippe’s more complicated timepieces. In fact I feel this model offers a similar sort of versatility to the Rolex Daytona; understated but yet classy enough to be worn just about anywhere, be it in the boardroom or by the pool, all the while still packing plenty of brand recognition on the wrist.
The dial is beautifully laid out and very easy to read. Across the top three small apertures display the day, date and month respectively, with a small power reserve indicator below. Just above six o’clock there is a 3-layered chronograph sub-dial – this has been changed from prior versions — with a 12-hour totalizer around the outer edge, 0-30-minute totalizer in the middle, and a 30-60-minute totalizer in the center. It takes a little getting used to but I imagine it will be quite easy to use once you are familiar with it. There is also a day/night indication at 6 o’clock, indicated by the appearance of a blue or black dot.
On the back side of the watch a sapphire exhibition case-back displays the beautifully finished movement, which has been stamped with the Patek Philippe Seal an exclusive hallmark of quality established by the brand. The automatic movement offers between 45 and 55 hours of power in reserve and is comprised of 456 individual parts.
The Patek Philippe 5960/1A retails at CHF45,000 (approx. US$50,000 by today’s exchange rates), and one thing I want to point out again – this combination of material, complications and colour makes it a seriously nice looking timepiece.