The annual calendar complication is synonymous with Patek Philippe. Not only does the brand have a sizeable collection of annual calendar pieces, it was also the first brand to commercialise the complication back in 1996. Ten years later, the annual calendar complication was combined with the chronograph for the first time in a Patek Philippe wristwatch, culminating in the Ref. 5960. The Ref. 5960, with its iconic pump pushers, was eventually replaced by the Ref. 5905. In the six years or so of its existence so far, the Ref. 5905 was only available in precious metal and with the aesthetics of a contemporary dress watch – that is, until now.
Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905/1A
This year, for the first time, the Ref. 5905 is available in stainless steel. Patek Philippe has also taken the leap to give the reference an unapologetically sporty look, in-line with what’s hot now at the brand. Here, we bring you the details and our thoughts on the new Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905/1A.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The new Ref. 5905/1A looks an entirely different beast compared to its predecessors. This is partly to do with the three-link bracelet (where leather straps were utilised previously) that it now has, a design that borrowed from the Aquanaut collection. Its stainless steel build, coupled with the Aquanaut-esque bracelet easily makes the Ref. 5905/1A the sportiest watch in Patek Philippe’s Complications collection. To further knock it out of the park, Patek Philippe’s latest annual calendar chronograph comes with a striking – perhaps jarring to some – olive green dial. Watches from the brand don’t get much trendier than this. The dial shares the same shade of green as the new Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A from earlier this year.
Save for the material, bracelet and dial colour, everything else about the Ref. 5905/1A remains unchanged relative to its precious metal siblings. The watch head retains its convex bezel, rectangular chronograph pushers, and its entirely polished surface finish. Even the dial displays and layout are identical: 60-minute chronograph counter at 6 o’clock, an aperture within said counter to display the day/night indication, central chronograph seconds hand, central hour and minute hands, and three windows for the annual calendar indications.
Driving the Ref. 5905/1A is the familiar Calibre CH 28-520 QA 24H. The 402-part, 37-jewel movement has powered every variant of the Ref. 5905 since the model’s inception. It is a column wheel/vertical clutch chronograph with an annual calendar module stacked on top. Being a vertical clutch chronograph means that the movement trades in some visual appeal for increased durability. It is also worth mentioning that the Calibre CH 28-520 QA 24H has flyback functionality that allows the running chronograph seconds hand to zero and restart immediately at the push of the reset button. The movement has an average power reserve of 50 hours and operates at a modern 4 Hz frequency.
Bearing the Patek Philippe Seal, the Calibre CH 28-520 QA 24H is as impeccably finished as it is constructed. A look through the sapphire crystal case back says it all: a 21k gold central rotor with circular Côtes de Genève and engraving of the Calatrava cross, bridges with circular Côtes de Genève and polished bevels, polished screw heads, and perlage on the base plate, among other spectacular touches.
The Competitive Landscape
Wristwatches with both the annual calendar and chronograph complications are surprisingly scarce to come by. Perhaps manufacturers simply favour the more complex perpetual calendar or the more basic date function to go with the chronograph. The Ref. 5905/1A fills this annual calendar chronograph niche to the tee. With its sporty bracelet and hip green dial, it also serves to divert ravenous demand from the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Aquanaut collections. At EUR51,500, the watch offers decent value (for a Patek Philippe anyway) given the complications.
If the Ref. 5905/1A is too trendy for you and you’re a fan of Patek Philippe’s older designs, then the Ref. 5960 may be the annual calendar chronograph for you. The model comes with all the functions of the Ref. 5905 plus a power reserve indicator and a 12-hour chronograph counter. The problem is, it has been discontinued (replaced by the Ref. 5905) and can only be purchased second hand. Well, sort of. The Ref. 5961 – basically the Ref. 5960 plus diamonds – is actually still part of the current collection and can, in theory, be purchased at a boutique if you fancy gems on your watch. It will, however, set you back almost SGD200,000 for the rose gold version.
As fantastic as Patek Philippe’s annual calendar chronographs are, none are perhaps more popularised than the RM11 – Richard Mille’s resident annual calendar chronograph and best seller. Standing out is what the RM11 does best, with its often exotic case materials, striking colors, see-through dial and overall modern design language. While finissage may not be its strong suit, Richard Mille does excel in watchmaking and materials engineering. The variant shown below is the RM11-03 McLaren that comes with a Carbon TPT case and titanium bridges and plates. The 500-pieces limited edition watch was priced at USD191,500 when it was released in 2018.
With green dialed sports watches being the flavour of the year, it seems the Ref. 5905/1A is poised for success. It feels a little sacrilegious to have such sporty specimen in the elegance-inclined Complications collection, but perhaps this is a sign of changing times. Manufacturers must give what the customers demand, and what the customers demand now from Patek Philippe are sports watches. But make no mistake – while the Ref. 5905/1A may look sporty, it is not designed to take heavy blows or be submerged (30 m water resistance only). It is sporty in form, but not function. All that said, the watch still easily impresses with its bold aesthetics, solid watchmaking and five-star finishing.