Another steel 5960 from Patek Philippe hits the mark
By James Gurney
It’s a grail watch, the benchmark, it’s the chronograph that has Patek fans wondering just how much their grannies are actually worth. The 5960 Annual Calendar Chronograph watch touches all the buttons for followers of Patek Philippe (and, indeed, anyone who likes watches at all); the movement is the company’s first ever self-winding chronograph, it’s an annual calendar, Patek’s signature complication and it successfully skates a knife-edge line between dress watch and sport watch.
Patek then managed to up the ante with a steel version (the 5960/1A) launched in 2014 that was a contender for watch of the year thanks to its near perfect dial design – a beautiful white opaline that contrasts with black gold details such as the hour markers and aperture rims, all given a pop by the red seconds hands. It was a design that made the most of the 5960’s curious but highly effective “monocounter” layout that compresses the chronograph into the lower sector (and leaves plenty of room on the top half of the dial for the calendar windows into the bargain).
Quite why is hard to pin down exactly, but the sportier look of the steel 5960 just works better than its precious metal equivalents, more purposeful, more right –even the minor details such as the number font on the chronograph dial seem to work better and then there’s the unusual bet near perfect concave bezel. Whatever the reason, collectors have taken to the watch in their droves.
All that makes the decision to launch a reversed out version of the 5960 something of a formality, though the three year hiatus is curious. The black dial version follows the same approach and shares almost all of the appeal of the earlier watch. I say almost only because the there’s a different balance of shiny and matte surfaces that changes the character. Not dramatically, but enough to make the dial seem just a little more cluttered, though others will entirely (and fairly) disagree. And while we’re splitting hairs, the effect of the red hands is different, though whether you think that it’s more or less successful is, again, purely a matter of taste.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the 5960/1A-010 will go down as a classic and if given the choice, I’d certainly have both.