The end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 was kind of loaded for Patek Philippe. The least we can say is that the manufacture came with lots of novelties. Back in October 2014, the brand was celebrating its 175th anniversary and they came with several superb watches, including the Multi-Scale Chronograph and the totally mind-blowing GrandMaster Chime. Thus, we could have expect Baselworld 2015 to be quiet. Wrong! Patek just surprised us with a properly unexpected watch, the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time. However, they’re also coming back to basics, with a pure, clean but complicated watch, the Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905P.
A bit of history – the annual calendar by Patek Philippe
There are several types of calendars that can be added to a watch. The first one is simple, as it only shows the date (that always displays 31 days per a month and that need to be corrected 5 times a year, for the months with 30 or 28 days). Then comes the complete / full calendar, that basically works the same but displays additionally the day of the week and the month (but that required the same corrections than a traditional date). On the very opposite of the range of calendars sits the masterpiece, one of the ultimate complication, the perpetual calendar. This module allows the watch to consider the month with 30 or 31 days, but also takes into account the month of February (with its 28 days) and the leap years (when February has 29 days). This type of watch only requires a corrections every 100 years (if continuously running of course) as during secular years (every 100 years), February has 28 days.
In the middle there’s another type of calendar, an hybrid between the very simple date and the expensive and complicated perpetual calendar: the annual calendar. Almost 20 years ago, Patek Philippe, known to master the perpetual calendar like no one in the industry, came with a new idea, a calendar that will be (nearly) as practical as a QP but more secure, more simple, more reliable and mainly, more accessible. In 1996, they came with the patent of a calendar watch that required only one correction a year, at the transition from February to March, meaning that it was automatically recognizing 30- and 31-day months. This complication, first showed on the 18k yellow gold ref. 5035, is controlled by grooved wheels and pinions rather than rockers and levers (in a QP). This mechanism is simpler to assemble, required less parts, more reliable and protected and thus, it is more affordable. However, it remains a complicated watch that shows the date but also the day of the week and the month.
This complication is since 2006 associated with a flyback chronograph with the introduction of an important watch, the Ref. 5960. This watch was the first self-winding chronograph entirely developed and manufactured in-house by Patek Philippe. Before this ref. 5960, the calendar linked to a chronograph by Patek was always a perpetual one (since the 1920s with the famous ref. 1518 to the actual ref. 5270).
The new Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905P
The new Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905P is the successor of the already famous but quite old ref. 5960, introduced in 2006. As said, this reference was an important watch for Patek Philippe, as it was both the first to associate an annual calendar to a chronograph but also the first watch from the manufacture showing the in-house self-winding chronograph movement. In short, Patek was not allowed to do any mistake when replacing this watch – that is also a commercially successful reference. For Baselworld 2015, what we have is basically an evolution of the concept that shows a cleaner, more elegant and more modern look – without losing its DNA.
The changes are mainly focusing on the aesthetics. The new Reference 5905P is a mix of two watches: it utilizes clues from both its predecessor, the ref. 5960, and of another annual calendar, the no-chronograph edition, so-called the reference 5205. This mix is simple to guess from the new reference: 5905… What we have is a watch that shares the layout and functions of the 5960 (despite some differences) and the aesthetics of the 5205.
The predecessor was coming in many editions, starting from the classical gold or platinum, to the 2014 sporty edition 5960A, with a white dial, black indexes and hands and red accents, together with a stainless steel case and bracelet. It was featured with the 3-window annual calendar and a chronograph but also a power reserve on the top of the dial, a 12-hour and 60-minute counter at 6 and a day night indicator.
The 2015 edition is slightly different. First, it only comes (for the moment) in platinum. Then, it takes some design clues from the 5205, the edition of the 3-window annual calendar with moon phase and 24-hour sub-counter (and no chronograph), as it shares the same monochromatic sectorial dial and glaive hands. The 5960 was coming with a plain dial and leaf hands. Pushers are also different – now squares instead of classical round push buttons.
The Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905P thus comes with a 42mm case made of platinum. It shows a full mirror finish and comes with Patek’s classical concave bezel and lugs. It can be associated to a black or a deep blue dial, with matching alligator strap. Talking about the dial, this is the part of the watch that shows most differences with the previous edition. As the non-chronogaph edition 5205, it shows sectors separated by concentric circles – one around the minutes and seconds track and one around the hour track – in order to partitioned the functions. It is now coming with a monochromatic scheme, as the sub-dial at 6 is not coming in a contrasting colour like in the previous 5960.
If you look closely to this dial, you’ll notice that it’s not only aesthetically simplified. It shows less functions than the 5960. Of course, the 3 windows on the top that are intelligently displaying the calendar indications – day of the week, date and month, for a very natural reading – are still in place but the power reserve indicator had been removed. Then, the sub-counter is simpler than before as it only shows a 60-minute counter instead of a 12-hour and 60-minute counter before. The legibility of the dial is increased and the overall look is cleaner and more modern. The usefulness of a power reserve on a self-winding watch is limited and the removal of this function brings a more balanced dial. Same goes for the chronograph counter that looks easier to read. However, a small regret concerning the inscriptions that could have been more delicate and smaller. Note that inside this counter sits a day/night indicatior, depicted by a small aperture that moves from white (during the day) to blue (during the night).
This changes means also a technical update of the movement. However, the base remains the same, meaning an integrated automatic chronograph movement, with a central rotor and a modern look and layout. When the Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 5270 comes with a (superb) manual movement, this one prefers to play on the practical side. The view though the caseback might not be the same, it remains quite an interesting and nice calibre. The chronograph function is actuated by a column-wheel with vertical clutch. It features a flyback mechanism (that allows to restart the chrono by only pressing the pusher at 4) and boasts up to 55 hours of power reserve. The Calibre CH 28-520 QA 24H comes with Patek’s traditional finishing, meaning polished bevelled angles, circular Geneva Stripes, polished screw-heads and slots and circular graining on the main plate. It is certified by the Patek Philippe Seal, that also controls the accuracy of the watch (average of -3/+2 seconds a day).
Compared to the previous edition – the ref. 5960 – the new Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905P shows a cleaner and more elegant look. It is just simpler and this new monochromatic design suits better the concept of a dress chronograph. However, the increased diameter and height (42mm x 14mm for the new one compared to 40.5mm x 13.5mm) are questionable. If we were in front of a sports watch, that would have been understandable. If Patek had introduced other complications, that would have also been understandable. However, we’re in front of a watch that shows a cleaner dial and less complications than before. This just makes the case looks bulkier and heavier on the wrist, while the previous one was perfectly sized. The market might be demanding those bulky watches, it’s no reason for a brand like Patek to do so and to reduce the elegance of their watches.
Of course, 42mm remains acceptable and the Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 5905P sits very well on the wrist. Of course, the case is superbly finished and the new dial more elegant. of course, on the overall, this is a superb, complicated but practical watch. Of course, it has the Patek quality. We would have just love a slimmer profile and bezel. No one is perfect, even Patek. Price: 78.200 USD.