The Patek Philippe Ref 5960/1A launched to market in 2014 with a sporty looking white dial. A classy black dial version joined it in 2017. In 2018, less than a year later, Patek discontinued both. No official reason was ever given why. Did the models fail to gain traction with the younger audience they were targeting? Or could the brand not get comfortable with steel cases and complicated movements? A combination generally reserved for the ‘sporty’ Nautilus and Aquanaut collections. In reality, we’ll never know what led to the decision.
What we can say is that there aren’t be too many Patek Philippe Ref 5960/1A watches in circulation. A consequence of the short production run combined with Patek’s low volume output. Does this alone qualify them as collectible watches? For some scarcity is enough. But as you will see, there are also a few other elements that make this reference special. Which suggests its long-term value is on the rise.
A (Very) Brief History Of The Patek Philippe 5960
The Patek Philippe Ref 5960 marks a significant milestone. Launched in 2006, it houses the brand’s first self-winding, in-house chronograph movement. The Caliber CH 28-520 IRM QA 24H with annual calendar and flyback functionality. More detail on that shortly. Prior to this, the brand had relied on external movements modified in-house. Denoting the model’s significance, the 5960 made its debut in a platinum case. A rose gold version was later added.
In spite of its precious metal housing, the Patek Philippe Ref 5960 always had a sporty feel to it. Pump pushers for the chronograph. Easy to read dial, with a novel monocounter at 6 o’clock and three large calendar apertures across the top. This was a luxury watch you could wear and use every day. The platinum version features a striking sunburst blue dial. Complete with contrasting white and red accents. The rose gold version meanwhile offers a brushed silver dial.
No one knows for sure, of course, but both (platinum and rose gold) seemed good sellers for Patek. Not crazy popular but solid performers. Yet, when the Ref 5960/1A-001 launched in steel in 2014, it replaced both precious metal versions. To say this was a surprise move by the brand is an understatement. But it also gives you an idea of how invested they were (at the time) in the steel version’s success.
The Patek Philippe Ref 5960/1A
For me, there are several elements that make the 5960/1A a great watch. To start, the stainless steel case measures 40.5mm, making it practical for every day wear. This is comparable to something like the 5990/1A. Although the two models wear somewhat differently on the wrist. The use of steel also made it more accessible price wise. When the white dial version made its debut in 2014, Patek Philippe gave it a younger, sportier look. The clever (but restrained) use of color introduced a nice sense of contrast.
Three apertures display the annual calendar indications across the top of the dial. This quick and easy to read format shows the day/date/month from left to right. A power reserve indicator sits beneath the date window at 12 o’clock. Meanwhile, an over-sized sub-dial occupies most of the bottom half of the dial. It houses the 60-minute and 12-hour mono-counter. There’s also a day/night indicator above 6 o’clock. Completing the chronograph functionality is a central seconds hand in contrasting red.
In 2017, the Ref 5960/1A-010 joined the line-up. This latter model introduced an ebony black, opaline dial. Complete with silvery white and bright red contrasting accents. Darker colour dials generally seem to be more popular and this model was no exception. Many saw it as more refined than the white dial version. The former’s distinct style had somewhat of a polarising effect on collectors. Over time though that seems to be adding to the reference’s cult appeal. Not unlike the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time ref 5524G. Another model with a somewhat unconventional design that collectors have slowly come to love.
Inside the Ref 5960/1A is a self-winding movement. It incorporates both flyback chronograph and annual calendar complications. Its full name is caliber CH 28-520 IRM QA 24H. Quite a mouthful I’m sure you’ll agree. As mentioned earlier, this was the company’s first ever automatic chronograph. Introduced in 2006, it is still in use today.
Comprised of 456 parts, 14 bridges and 40 jewels, it beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph. It features several Patek Philippe patented inventions. These include a Gyromax balance and Spiromax balance spring. The max power reserve is 55 hours when wound. The movement displays Patek’s usual high standard of finishing. And the 21K gold rotor is a nice touch too.
The Integrated Bracelet
One of the more contentious aspects of the Ref 5960/1A was its integrated steel bracelet. Some loved it, while others hated it. It didn’t seem there was any middle ground. No one could dispute the quality of this five-line ‘rice-bead’ link bracelet. The shape and finishing are superb and it wears great on the wrist. What many collectors couldn’t get past, though, was how shiny it is. Some complained that it looked too gaudy. Others said it should have a matte finish instead of a polished one.
You can’t please everyone though. And in fact, over the years many have come to like this shiny bracelet. The sportier nature of the model also makes it well suited to a more casual leather or rubber strap. A point well-demonstrated by the Ref 5960/01G, the last surviving member of the 5960 family. This model comes in an elegant 18k white gold case paired with a blue dial and a vintage brown calf leather strap. It’s a very cool watch no doubt, but for me the steel versions will always hold the greatest appeal.
Price & Availability
Something interesting happened when Patek dropped the steel 5960 models in 2018. Prices didn’t go up on the secondary market. Not immediately anyway. Well, that’s not strictly true. The black dial version did see some immediate uplift. While the white dial version sort of languished. But then around a year later, both started gaining steam.
Driving this, in part at least, was the growing interest in steel sports Patek models in general. A rising tide lifts all boats as they say. Models like the Nautilus 5711 and 5712 were (and still are) commanding huge premiums. As was baby brother, the Aquanaut. The difference though, is that those models are still in production. Albeit at very low volumes relative to demand. Whereas the 5960/1A is not.
Likewise, a limited production lifetime means there are few on the market to begin with. As such, you can expect to pay around $45,000 – $50,000 for a decent, preowned white dial version. And closer to $70,000 – $75,000 for the black dial. Of course, condition plays a part in this. As does provenance and supporting paperwork.
IN THE SHOP: check out this double-sealed Patek Philippe 5960/1A-001 available now.
Is the Patek Philippe Ref 5960/1A Collectible?
What makes a watch, any watch, collectible? This is a nebulous question with infinite answers. Many of which are not grounded in any sort of logic. Scarcity plays into the mix. So too does provenance and the reputation of the manufacturer. More often than not, though, it’s the intangible factors that drive desirability.
Celebrity endorsement can play a role (they call it the Paul Newman Daytona for a reason.) As can the context in which the watch made its debut. For example, the Royal Oak Jumbo Ref 5402ST pioneered an entire new category (that of the luxury steel sports watch.) Sometimes, it’s the lack of initial popularity that results in a watch becoming a cult classic. This was the case with the original Rolex Milgauss (and many others.)
At first instance, it would seem the Patek Philippe Ref 5960/1A most likely fits into this last category. It wasn’t a strong seller on the primary market and as a result it has the potential to become a cult favourite. There’s sound logic to this. Popular brand, limited production, complicated movement. All the ingredients are there. But that approach also over-simplifies things somewhat.
The 5960/1A was a bold and somewhat unconventional move for Patek Philippe. The brand was not – and is still not – in the habit of making complicated pieces in steel. Likewise, it is rare that they would introduce a model and then stop production on it a few short years later. This is more the way brands behaved back in the 1950s and 60s. Refining and replacing their offerings at a lightening pace. Now though, in-depth market research and extensive development means that rarely happens. And when it does, many question whether the watch was a flop.
In my mind, the Ref 5960/1A was not a flop. Rather it was an experiment with mixed results. Which is a big deal for a brand accustomed to winning. What’s even more curious is that Patek introduced a second dial colour in steel. And less than a year before dropping both models. Was this a last-ditch effort to boost lagging sales? Or did something unforeseen happen to force a change in course? We’ll likely never know.
In my mind though, the Ref 5960/1A is going to be one of those pieces that intrigues collectors decades from now. The bold design. The short production run. The notable movement. All the ingredients are there. Plus, it’s actually a great looking watch that wears well on the wrist. With that in mind, I suspect prices will only continue to rise.
IN THE SHOP: check out this double-sealed Patek Philippe 5960/1A-001 available now.
Technical Specifications: Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref 5960/1A-010
- Case: Steel– 40.5 mm x 13.53mm – sapphire-crystal caseback – waterproof to 30 metres.
- Dial: Ebony black, opaline dial– centre hour, minute and chronograph seconds hands –day, date and month in apertures – 60-minute and 12-hour monocounter – power reserve and day/night indication.
- Movement: Caliber CH 28-520 IRM QA 24H – unidirectional self-winding – flyback chronograph – annual calendar – Gyromax® balance – Spiromax® balance spring – central rotor in 21K gold – power reserve: Min. 45 hours – max. 55 hours – Patek Philippe Seal.
- Price: USD 45,000 – 50,000 (discontinued).