It is fair to say that this Collector’s Series entry falls firmly in the grail watch category… Mark Sinclair is a true Danish Gentleman. He is an avid watch collector, fundraiser and highly involved and respected law student (master program), soon to be a Lawyer. In his limited spare time, Mark hosts watch events in Copenhagen as well as teaching and mentoring criminal law students. It was a joy sitting down with him to find out how he first got into watches, what it was about Patek Philippe that attracted him and why he now wears a Patek Philippe 5960P (yes, the chronograph annual calendar in a quite rare edition) on his wrist.
Patek Philippe watches are part of the ”Holy Trinity” of watchmakers (Patek Philippe, Audemars-Piguet and Vacheron-Constantin) and for good reasons. The Patek Philippe 5960P is a truly breath-taking watch and among the most sough-after references the manufacture produces. I am confident you will find this to be a passionate and detailed account, from a true watch-lover.
When did you first get into watches?
I got into watches in 2010, when I received a mechanical watch as a birthday present. It sparked a profound interest in mechanical watches, because I was fascinated by the idea of using a mechanical timepiece to tell me the time in a high-tech digital world. Most people in modern countries own a smartphone, which offers all sorts of practical functions, but you never get as attached to a smartphone as to a mechanical watch, or at least I do not. It is more personal and in some aspects more practical, because smartphones suffer from one major issue: battery life. What started as an ember has turned into a burning passion.
What drew you to Patek as a brand?
Once I got deeper into the world of watches, I came across the term the ”Big Three”, also known as the ”Holy Trinity” of watchmakers, which consists of Patek Philippe, Audemars-Piguet and Vacheron-Constantin. These manufactures are by many aficionados and experts considered to be the vanguards of watchmaking due to their craftsmanship, history and prestige, which is why I decided to give it a try after having done some research. The choice lay between the Patek Philippe Nautilus (ref. 5711/1A), the Audemars-Piguet Royal Oak (ref. 15202ST Jumbo) and the Vacheron-Constantin Overseas (ref. 47040/B01A), but the Nautilus got the deciding vote, because I was enthralled by its dial and the octagonal shape of the case – with its curved corners and two straight edges, which is reminiscent of the design of a ship’s porthole. However, I was also drawn to the idea of owning a timepiece, which carries some of the DNA from the late Gérald Genta, even though it does not have the monocoque case like the original Nautilus (ref. 3700/1A) from 1976. However, after glancing at the price tag (approx. 179.000 DKK / 24.000 Euros in March 2012), I did not buy one, but ended up purchasing another watch, which is still part of my collection this very day, but I was not entirely satisfied.
After having spent some time at the drawing board, I decided to give it another attempt and bought the Aquanaut (ref. 5167A/-001) instead, because I like how well the ”tropical” composite strap goes together with the black embossed dial. Once I had worn it and studied it as if it were a piece of art by the late M. C. Escher, my initial doubts turned into admiration for Patek Philippe as a brand, and my admiration has only become stronger as time has passed.
What attracted you to the 5960P rather than other references from the Patek?
It is an interesting story actually.
Before I got the 5960P-016 (black dial), I had just recently bought a Patek Philippe 5130P-020 (the World Timer), which also is an iconic timepiece from Patek containing the calibre 240 as base movement, which is one my favourite self-winding movements of all time. The Patek 5960P-016 was released in 2013, so at the time (winter 2012) when I bought the 5130P, I could only choose between the 5960P-001 (grey dial) and the 5960P-015 (blue dial) – both of which in fact still were produced together with the 5960P-016, until all of the 5960s manufactured in precious metals were replaced by ref. 5960/1A in 2014. A certain infamous magazine is therefore wrong when stating that the 5960P-016 replaced its siblings in platinum, cf. here and here.
However, I had ruled out the ref. 5960P-015 and 5960P-001, because I was not that fond of the contrasting colour chronograph chapter and the actuation of the chronograph pushers, which felt the same on the other versions in platinum and rose gold.
I was, though, still allured by the 5960, because it was a complicated and yet sporty watch with an almost symmetrical dial layout. It was during a museum and factory visit at Patek Philippe in 2013 that I decided to pull the trigger and get a 5960P – with a black opaline dial and matching matte black alligator strap. Once the longstanding rumour of ref. 5960 (all in precious metals) and Nautilus Chronograph 5980 (all in steel) being discontinued was confirmed – during a dinner with the directors of Patek Philippe – it struck me like lightning from a clear blue sky. I did not anticipate Patek Philippe to discontinue two otherwise commercially successful and desirable watches. I knew at that moment that I would regret not pulling the trigger, so I texted my watch dealer in a heartbeat to get hold of ref. 5960P-016 – and the rest is history.
In my opinion, they saved the best for last, because it has a monochromatic design, which adds a new dimension of elegance to this timepiece. In general, the 5960 is well-proportioned with its 40.5mm, excluding the crown according to Patek Philippe and 13.5mm thickness. The pump pushers for operating the chronograph are reminiscent of those seen on ref. 1463, which was their first water resistant chronograph. The case is superbly finished with a full mirror finish and concave bezel. Overall, it is a gorgeous timepiece, despite the off-set ”positioning” of the apertures for the day of the week and month.
Which kind of case material does it have?
It is made of platinum, which – according to some sources – is 30 times more rare than gold. The 5960 was also made in rose gold and even white gold too. The latter (ref. 5960G-010) was, however, part of a unique limited series of 100 pieces produced exclusively for Mercury of Russia to commemorate the opening of the Patek Philippe Boutique at Mercury.
Can you tell us more about the movement in the 5960P?
The 5960 is powered by cal. CH 28-520 IRM QA 24H, and it was launched back in 2006 in ref. 5960P-001, which featured their first ever self-winding chronograph developed and manufactured in-house. However, it also features an annual calendar via three apertures for date, day of the week and month at the upper half of the dial. Finally, it features a day/night indicator positioned within the monocounter at 6 o’clock along with a power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock.
[bctt tweet=”The Patek Philippe 5960 features Patek’s first self-winding chronograph developed & manufactured in-house.”]
While the movement is complicated, it is neither too complicated as a perpetual calendar nor simple as a plain calendar. What is the difference? One might ask. The former will adjust for short and long months as well as 29 days of February once every leap year (every four years) and only needs to be adjusted in secular years (every 100 years), since February has 28 days during secular years, while the latter needs to be adjusted five times a year as it does not adjust for short and long months. A ”hybrid” between the two is the annual calendar as it distinguishes between short and long months and only needs to be adjusted once a year at the end of February – not five times a year. This mechanism is easier to assemble as it is less complicated than its perpetual counterparts and thus more affordable, even though the price of a ref. 5960P still was high (approx. 628.000 DKK / 84.000 Euros in June 2014).
The calibre is an integrated self-winding chronograph movement with a unidirectional central rotor crafted in 21k gold as it optimizes the kinetic yield. It relies on a sophisticated column-wheel construction for actuation. However, instead of a lever for a horizontal wheel clutch, it actuates the clamp of an almost wear-free vertical clutch, which is a reliable solution as the key components are not subjected to increased wear, thus allowing the chronograph seconds hand to be operated continuously with no adverse effects on the rate of accuracy of the movement and mechanism. If you are the type of person who prefers animation on the dial, as the 5960 does not have a small seconds hand, you can use the chronograph hand as a surrogate without qualms. Vertical-clutch coupling also has the advantage of reducing jitters on the chronograph hand when the chronograph is engaged, stopped and reset.
It features a flyback mechanism, also known as retour en vol, which allows the wearer to restart timing by only pressing the pusher at 4 o’clock. Finally, it boasts a power reserve between 45-55 hours depending on how long the chronograph is kept running. The movement is adorned with Patek Philippe’s exquisite finishing consisting of circular graining on the main plate, circular Geneva Stripping on the chamfered bridges and on the rotor, polished screw-heads and slots and the whole nine yards. It bears the Patek Philippe Seal (introduced in mid-2009) that encompasses the watch as a whole. It ensures the rate accuracy between -3 to +2 per 24-hour period for mechanical movements larger than 20mm in diameter.
I consider this to be an important calibre in Patek Philippe’s longstanding history of watchmaking, as it unites their first ever self-winding chronograph developed and manufactured in-house with the annual calendar, which in fact was patented by them back in 1996.
When buying, what is more important to you: Brand/model? Heritage? Aesthetic? Accuracy? Or Rarity?
My focus is primarily on aesthetics, complications and history, but I do take other factors into account when buying.
One of my favourite complications is the world timer that enables you with a single glance at the dial to tell the time of all major cities around the globe along with your local time as well. Another favourite is the chronograph (preferably without screw-down pushers), which enables you to keep track of a certain event – fast and even more convenient than a smartphone. How cool is that? Complications are fascinating because they enable the wearer to do various tasks mechanically.
[bctt tweet=”A favourite is the chronograph, which enables to keep track of events – even more convenient than a smartphone”]
History is another key component when buying. I place emphasis on history because it is interesting to know that a certain watch has a story to tell, even though produced in an era, where we fortunately do not have wars on a global scale and other types of misery. Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms has an interesting history because it is considered to be the father of modern dive watches, which has served the likes of Jacques-Yves Cousteau during the shooting of ”The World of Silence” and quite a few armies, including the US and French armies. According to some sources, it also featured the first unidirectional bezel. Officine Panerai watches have an interesting history because they served the Royal Italian Navy and were later acquired by the Richemont Group (then Vendome), which launched the brand on the international market. When I look at my Luminor (PAM 233), I cannot help thinking about its roots as a tool watch worn in combat by soldiers, which is enhanced by its design, especially the domed glass and movement (P.2002) – with an eight days power reserve inspired by an Angelus movement of the 1940s.
This is fascinating because new watches in some ways are capable of echoing the history of their roots, if carried out correctly of course.
Aesthetics are important, as a watch must be pleasing to look at. I prefer dials with a symmetrical layout since all of the indications are equally available at first glance, even though I do not consider a traditional dial with the date display placed at 3 o’clock to be a deal-breaker. Asymmetrical dials, if carried out correctly of course, can also be visually pleasing, e.g. Girard-Perregaux Annual Calendar and Equation of Time (ref. 49538) and Breguet Marine Chronograph (ref. 5827). When talking about aesthetics, I also focus on the level of the finish of the bracelet and the case of the watch. The way a bracelet and a case are finished is important in determining how elegant and prestigious a watch can be.
However, I place emphasis on other factors as well, so this list is not exhaustive.
How important is the case material to you?
It depends on the watch and the circumstances of its intended use. If we are talking about a complicated or simple watch intended for formal wear or other similar settings, I prefer precious metals, e.g. platinum, white gold and in some instances rose and yellow gold. If we are talking about a casual or sports watch, I prefer stainless steel or something lighter. However, if I am really interested in a certain watch, and it happens only to be offered in a specific material, then I am prone to make an exception and just go with it.
But I admit that I like the idea of owning timepieces made of various materials, especially precious metals due to their exotic nature, because this offers a new dimension to collecting. It is not about showing material wealth, as I prefer precious metals that are understated, among them platinum and white gold, but I am drawn by the history and rarity surrounding precious metals. Everything, from their delivery to our planet during the late heavy bombardment, which occurred about four billion years ago (according to some sources), to their use as a commodity today. My fascination is also due to the prosperities that precious metals have.
How much wrist time does it get?
Honestly, I have not worn the 5960P-016 since it has the potential of becoming a collectible due to its complications and short production run (a year or even less so). To top things off, rumour has it that there is an estimate of 50 examples produced, which I have on good authority. It seems plausible as its siblings in platinum, including the ref. 5961P-001, and rose gold were still in production until the spring of 2014.
It sounds odd as watches are intended to be worn, but once Alfredo Paramico pulled out a new old-stock Nautilus (ref. 3700/1A) with the original cork box and paperwork, including booklets and certificate of origin, in an episode of ‘‘Talking Watches” on Hodinkee, I decided to keep the 5960P unworn. I am not into vintage watches in general, but I do admit that the time capsule condition of Paramico’s Nautilus mesmerized me. Inspired by one of the premier watch buyers and collectors on the globe, I decided to make it a safe queen. One must remember that I am just as much a watch collector as I am a watch lover, and sometimes I get more satisfied by knowing that I own a certain timepiece. If you are a watch collector, not all watches are worn and this is true in the case of the 5960P.
Do you tend to research the market before making a purchase?
I just do not go out and buy a watch for the sake of buying it – that does not appeal to me at all. Once a watch has caught my attention, I do thorough research and try to gather as much information as possible, either through other seasoned individuals or books and other reliable sources, because I wish to make a decision that I will not regret later. What complication(s) does this watch feature and is it better executed than its counterparts on the market? How is it perceived by other collectors and journalists? Why is this timepiece more interesting than its counterparts on the market? Does it fare well on the used market compared to the retail price? Will it fit into my collection in general? I could continue mentioning all sorts of examples, but I believe that you catch my grip. I consider it necessary to research the market before making a purchase, because it reduces the risk of making a wrong decision.
[bctt tweet=”I consider necessary to research the market before making a purchase, because it reduces the risk”]
Do you listen to the advice of anyone before making a purchase?
I take advice from my personal dealer and other collectors, even though the final decision is purely based on my opinion. Rome was not built in a day, which is why I am all ears if a reliable person is giving advice, despite the fact that I am more seasoned than I was five years ago. However, it is important to be critical or else you will end up like John Mayer in the case against Robert Maron. In my opinion, it is important to receive and accept advice from more seasoned and reliable individuals, as this reduces the risk of making mistakes.
Is the joy of wearing a watch more important to you than considering the resale value?
[bctt tweet=”If you place too much emphasis on the resale value of watches, you may consider finding another hobby”]
If you place too much emphasis on the resale value and therefore deprive yourself from the joy of wearing a watch, you may consider finding another hobby. I am of course careful when approaching a doorframe or other potential risks, because I do care about the condition as a collector. I even admit that I would become dreary, if one of my timepieces accidentally was damaged, with replacement of original parts or something like that as a result. But I definitely get more joy from obtaining or wearing a watch than considering the resale value. Definitely.
What (if anything) have you got your eye on next?
There are still a few candidates out there on the market, but not as many actually as I thought since I do not aspire to amass a plethora of watches.
The Patek Philippe 5235G (Patek’s regulator) is among them, because I really like the symmetrical layout of the dial and its rather unusual appearance, at least when talking about Patek Philippe. It contains an interesting movement, of which some watch aficionados actually are unaware. While the classic cal. 240, which was created in 1977, beats at a rate of 21.600 semi-oscillations per hour, the frequency of the movement inside ref. 5235G (cal. 31-260 REG QA) has been increased by nearly 10% to 23.040 vph, equivalent to 3.2Hz, and at the same time, its power reserve has been increased to 60 hours – 25% higher than a ”regular” cal. 240. How cool is that? The size of the watch is also great and the dial is legible as well.
Nevertheless, I am also fascinated by ref. 5990/1A-001 (the new Nautilus Chronograph) due to the symmetrical layout of the dial and complications, as I have a soft spot for travel watches and chronographs. My interest in the Nautilus was reborn after having witnessed the attention to details that goes into making a Nautilus watch from scratch. However, it is also due to its history, as its forefather (ref. 3700/1A) violated a taboo back in the 1970s along with Audemars-Piguet Royal Oak and Vacheron-Constantin 222, since luxury watches were expected to be made of precious metals and as thin as possible.
If we step away from Patek Philippe for a little while, I would like to purchase another Rolex, as I own a Submariner (ref. 16613 ”Sultan”), which does not feature a ceramic bezel, solid bracelet etc. However, I am not certain about which Rolex it will be, since they have come up with some interesting timepieces in recent years. It is a battle between the GMT-Master II (ref. 116719 BLRO), the Daytona (ref. 116506 – platinum) and Submariner (ref. 116619 LB – white gold). All of them retain the characteristics of their iconic forefathers. However, I am inclined towards the GMT-Master II, because Rolex utilizes a special alloy that enables their white gold to retain its colour, and the GMT-Master (ref. 16710) was in fact the watch that sparked my interest for mechanical watches.
Finally, I have got my eyes set on the Duométre (ref. 6062520 or 6012521) from Jaeger LeCoultre and the IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month (ref. IW 379201). The former features exquisite calibres that have been finished to high standards, while the latter is a horological juggernaut featuring a complicated movement housed in a case done in titanium-aluminide.
Can a collector ever be fully satisfied with his/her collection?
It depends on the person.
Now I am only speaking on my own behalf and I must admit that I enjoy collecting watches, but as my collection grew larger I became more satisfied as time went by, especially after purchasing the 5960P. I cannot see a point in gathering a plethora of watches and displaying them on Instagram or other social media as trophies – surrounded by bottles of champagne and other luxury items. Collecting watches is not about showing off material wealth or making other people green with envy.
Once I am done with collecting, I will focus on obtaining more knowledge about watches in general. It is more fulfilling, at least for me. Otherwise, you will end up with a bunch of watches that you most probably will forget exist in your collection. But I am prone to make an exception, if something truly special surfaces the market. When I started collecting watches, I got excited much more easily than I do now, as I have become more seasoned throughout the years. For instance, at this year’s the SIHH, I did not find the majority of the timepieces presented interesting due to the knowledge that I have acquired by reading all sorts of material as well as through speaking with other watch aficionados.
To sum things up, I will be satisfied with my collection, when I get hold of the above-mentioned timepieces.
Other than Patek, which brands do you think are doing interesting work out there?
Cartier has really taken things up a notch during recent years with a vast array of complicated watches, even though a handful of them are produced in limited quantities. But they are still doing one heck of a job. Everything from the ID2, however a concept watch, to their Rotonde de Cartier Astrocalendaire and the more affordable Rotonde de Cartier Day and Night. It has been interesting to follow their progress.
If I were to pick another one, it would be F.P. Journe where one of my favourites is the Chronomètre à Résonance, due to the calibre and the overall design of the watch. It utilizes two balance wheels, which are beating in resonance with one another – in order to keep track of time more accurately. How cool is that? I am baffled to say the least, because if one of the balance wheels goes out of sync, the other one will pull it back to the proper rate.
What advice would you give to someone considering starting a collection?
My best advice would be to do your research before pulling the trigger, or else you will end up regretting having bought a dozen watches. Try to sit down for a moment and set yourself a goal. Many collectors and watch aficionados have gained their experience and knowledge through trial and error. It takes a long time to really understand what makes a timepiece great. By gathering knowledge from either seasoned collectors or other reliable sources, you can reduce the risk of making mistakes. Once you have gained enough knowledge (relatively speaking), you may end up setting a new goal for yourself and thereby save time and resources, because you have found something that you are truly passionate about.
When collecting, do you think it is important to stick to a brand or a category (i.e. Patek, IWC / aviation, dive pieces)?
This is a good question, Justin. It depends on your interest. It is important to follow your own desires. You do not have to take an interest in design classics from the 1970s or military watches, if you are not interested in these types of watches. If you are into owning complicated or iconic timepieces, I urge you to follow your interest. It is admirable when a collector solely sticks to a certain brand or type of watch, but you cannot avoid depriving yourself from trying something else, which is why I prefer diversity within reason.
Once I started collecting watches, I created a mandatory rule, which is as follows: do not buy a watch, which is already represented in your collection. However, the rule is construed broadly, otherwise I would be limiting myself too much. If I already have a mechanical alarm in my collection or a chronograph with a central minutes hand, I do not need another one because it is redundant. If I already have an annual calendar or a calibre with a micro-rotor, I do not need another one because it is redundant. However, if the watch in question offers something more than an annual calendar, e.g. a regulator, which I do not currently own, then the rule does not apply in this case. It is as simple as that.
It is important for me to own a watch collection instead of a plethora of watches, because the latter does not have an apparent purpose, while the former shows that the owner has approached this matter seriously. I focus on keeping my collection on a relatively small scale – yet interesting at the same time.
To answer your question, Justin, I consider it important to keep focus or to stick to a set of rules when collecting. What this will be, however, depends on the individual.
Is this 5960P a keeper or can you see it leaving your collection one day?
I will never part with it, as it has too much sentimental value for me. I am still as excited about it as I was the first day I laid my hands upon it. I also use it to commemorate the year 2013, because I obtained my LL.B. the same year after going through a rough patch, but also due to the museum and factory visit to Patek Philippe. And finally, I saw Nickelback and Skillet perform live at Forum in Copenhagen on the very same day I took my final exam.
A special thank you to Mark for hiring a professional photographer, J. F. Sørensen, in order to bring you these superb photos.