Complications in stainless steel: a rare fusion at Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe's new Ref. 5960/1A Annual Calendar Chronograph is a wristwatch that emanates the cool sheen of stainless steel. It is one of the manufacture's rare classically elegant wristwatches outside the casually exclusive Nautilus and Aquanaut collections that combine a complicated movement with a stainless steel case. This debut is bound to capture the attention of collectors and brand aficionados.
When it was launched in 2006, the Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph in platinum won instant acclaim. It was the manufacture's first self-winding chronograph, manifested a new and unique style with its prominent monocounter and three large calendar apertures, and quickly established itself as one of the most coveted timepieces of the Patek Philippe portfolio. The success story continued with further versions in platinum and rose gold. Now, the letter "A" in the model designation 5960/1A, which stands for acier (steel in French), announces a paradigm change. The Annual Calendar Chronograph in stainless steel is not only the latest sibling of its lineage but will also replace all current gold and platinum versions.
Patek Philippe's stainless steel watches have always ranked among the most desirable timepieces because they were crafted only in small numbers. They were not regularly produced until 1976, when the manufacture introduced the casually elegant Nautilus line. Its memorable slogan: "One of the world's most expensive watches is made of steel." Twenty years later, the attractively stylish Aquanaut was also endowed with a stainless steel case. With very few exceptions – such as the ultra-thin Ref. 5950A split-seconds chronograph which has been in the collection since 2010 – all other Patek Philippe men's wristwatches were systematically cased in gold or platinum. As regards this strict distinction between casual and classic watches, the new Ref. 5960/1A is another one of these seductive exceptions.
The new stainless steel case imbues the coveted Annual Calendar Chronograph with authoritative technical finesse that melds classic elegance with masculine sportiness. It emphasizes the active and dynamic nature of the chronograph and underscores its function as a convenient timekeeping instrument of everyday utility. Nonetheless, the new Ref. 5960/1A has a decidedly elegant nimbus attributable to the balanced, gently rounded case contours and the superb finishing touches that reflect the competence of Patek Philippe's casemaking ateliers. Here, polishing is executed with scientific precision. The artisans are required to accrue several years of experience before being entrusted with the finissage of the manufacture's cases. Because of its hardness, stainless steel challenges the skills of the case specialists and imposes special requirements on their tools. It takes much longer than a gold case would to polish a steel case with consecutively finer abrasives until it reflects light with an immaculate sheen.
The elegance of the case also comes to the fore at the sublime transition to the signature bracelet with its five rows of “drop” links. It is eminently supple and of filigreed elegance. Developed by Patek Philippe, this bracelet was first introduced in 1997 for the Ref. 5036/1 Annual Calendar and now celebrates its debut in stainless steel.
Red accents with a signal effect
Technical elegance also characterizes the new silvery-gray dial with its striking red accents, interesting bright-dark contrasts, and the dynamic, performance-oriented looks of its explicitly three-dimensional architecture. An uncommon feature in a Patek Philippe watch: the red "1" in the date aperture, which kicks off each month with a colorful stimulus while the dates from the 2nd to the 31st days are displayed black on white. It is a genuine premiere for Patek Philippe, as is the combination of an Annual Calendar chronograph with a steel case and the stainless steel "drop" links bracelet that underscores the functionality of the Ref. 5960 as a measuring instrument. Thirteen appliques in black oxidized gold produce the expressive 3D effect: the chronograph scale on the periphery of the dial with twelve luminous five-minute markers, the three distinctively contoured frames for the aperture displays of the day, date, and month, the eight pointed-baton hour markers, each with three facets and a recessed sink at the flat end, as well as the 12-hour counter scale at 6 o'clock.
Additionally, the dial features two printed concentric chronograph minute counter scales (0 to 30 and 30 to 60 minutes) within the applied hour counter scale, a small day/night indication at 6 o'clock, and the minus and plus symbols for the power-reserve indicator beneath the date aperture. The redesigned hands of the Ref. 5960/1A accentuate the dynamic elegance of the watch. The hour and minute hands in black oxidized gold feature three facets to match the hour markers and have a luminescent coating to improve legibility at night. The brass hour-counter hand is black nickel-plated to match the applied counter scale. The large counterbalanced chronograph hand in steel and the small minute-counter hand in brass are bright red as dynamic hints that they are used for measurements in competitive sports.
The power- reserve hand in black nickel-plated gold was redesigned as well. It is now somewhat wider and skeletonized.
Precision conceived from tradition and innovation
The hands and the calendar displays are powered by the Patek Philippe CH 28-520 IRM QA 24H caliber with flyback chronograph and Annual Calendar as well as power-reserve and day/night indications. It beats with a frequency of 28,800 semi-oscillations per hour (4 hertz), which assures a constant balance amplitude and thus high rate accuracy. A heavy central rotor in 21K gold winds the watch automatically.
The movement is a prime example of tradition paired with innovation. It combines the classic column- wheel control concept with a modern vertical disk clutch that eliminates the risk of hand jump or recoil when the stopwatch function is activated. The clutch is practically friction-free, so that the chronograph hand can be used as a permanently running seconds hand if desired.
The patented Spiromax® balance spring made of Silinvar® is another innovative feature. Its isochronous oscillation, low mass, antimagnetic properties, and unique geometry assure high rate stability and uniformity. These are ideal prerequisites for the fulfillment of the Patek Philippe Seal precision criteria which for mechanical movements of this size tolerate a rate deviation of no more than -3 to +2 seconds per day.
This rate accuracy also benefits the patented Patek Philippe Annual Calendar, a modular ensemble that is a scant 2.48 mm high despite its 154 parts. Displaying the first day of the month in red, the calendar automatically recognizes months with 30 and 31 days and only needs to be manually corrected by one day on March 1 of each year.
With its elegance and technical panache, Patek Philippe's new Annual Calendar Chronograph 5960/1A is destined to become a bestseller that derives fresh charisma from the noblesse and cool luster of stainless steel. As of this year, it replaces all Ref. 5960 Annual Calendar Chronographs in gold and platinum.
Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5960/1A
- Caliber CH 28-520 IRM QA 24H
- Self-winding mechanical movement, chronograph with column wheel, Annual Calendar, power-reserve indicator, day/night indicator, sweep chronograph hand
- Diameter: 33 mm (basic movement 30 mm, calendar module 33 mm)
- Height: 7.68 mm (movement 5.20 mm, calendar module 2.48 mm)
- Number of parts: 456 (movement 302, calendar module 154)
- Number of jewels: 40 (movement 35, calendar module 5)
- Power reserve: Min. 45, max. 55 hours
- Winding rotor: Central rotor in 21K gold, unidirectional winding
- Balance: Gyromax®
- Frequency: 28,800 semi-oscillations/hour (4 Hz)
- Balance spring: Spiromax®
- Winding crown: Two crown positions:
- Pulled out: To set the time
- Pushed in: To wind the watch
- Center hour and minute hands
- Sweep chronograph hand
- Power-reserve indicator at 12 o'clock
- Monocounter at 6 o'clock
- 60-minute counter (display on two concentric scales from 0 to 30 and from 30 to 60 minutes)
- 12-hour counter
- Aperture displays:
- Day of week between 10 and 11 o'clock in diamond-polished and black galvanized 18K white-gold frame
- Date at 12 o'clock in diamond-polished and black galvanized 18K white gold frame; display of first day of each month with a red "1", date numerals from "2" to "31" in black
- Month between 1 and 2 o'clock in diamond-polished and black galvanized 18K white-gold frame
- Day/night indicator at 6 o'clock
- Chronograph start and stop at 2 o'clock
- Chronograph reset and flyback function at 4 o'clock
- Day at 9 o'clock
- Date between 9 and 10 o'clock
- Month at 10 o'clock
Hallmark: Patek Philippe Seal
- Stainless steel, sapphire-crystal glass and caseback
- Water-resistant to 30 m
- Diameter: 40.50 mm
- Diameter across crown: 43.20 mm
- Height: 13.55 mm
- Width between lugs: 21.20 mm
- Two-tone style, ebony black and silvery opaline
- Eight applied pointed-baton hour markers in black oxidized white gold, new design with three facets and a sink at the outer end
- Applied ebony-black oxidized chronograph scale with twelve luminescent five-minute pearls
- Hour and minute hands in black oxidized 18K white gold, new design with three facets and luminous coating
- Chronograph hand in steel, counterbalanced, lacquered in red
- Baton-style power-reserve indicator hand in 18K white gold, skeletonized and black nickel-plated
- Subsidiary dial with hour-counter scale on ebony-black oxidized applique in 18K white gold
- Baton-style hour-counter hand, counterbalanced, black nickel-plated brass
- Baton-style minute-counter hand, brass, lacquered in red
- Stainless steel, with Patek Philippe "drop" links and stainless steel foldover clasp