History of the Patek Philippe Calatrava Part 3 – Major Modern Models
Today we conclude our three-part series on the Patek Philippe Calatrava with a look at the present-day models currently available from the brand. After reading Part. 1 (focussing on the very first model of the collection, the reference 96) and Part. 2 (the most important vintage models), I’m sure you will agree that the humble Calatrava is one of the most iconic dress watches of all time and has played a significant role in shaping the entire dress watch category. Incredibly, its underlying design has remained largely unchanged since its introduction in 1932, some 85 years ago. While it’s true we’ve seen many variations over the years, the fundamentals have always remained the same, which is great news for vintage enthusiasts and new buyers alike.
According to the official Patek Philippe website, there are 21 different Calatrava models currently available for men (this includes different metals and excludes complicated models), however, the “Calatrava” section on the PP website only focuses on time-only models, while the collection also includes more complicated watches such as the Regulator Annual Calendar Calatrava (5535g) or the Pilot Calatrava (5524g). For our purposes, however, we’re only going to focus on six specific models in this article, which we think gives a good cross-section of the current collection and demonstrate the versatility of the Calatrava.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5196
In the current Calatrava line-up, there are arguably two models that draw the most inspiration from the original Ref. 96; the Ref. 5296 (see below) and the Ref. 5196, hence the not-so-subtle use of ‘96’ in the reference number. Presented in a slightly larger, more modern 37mm case, the Ref. 5196 is the perfect example of elegant simplicity. Despite the larger sized, however, the case is still built the same way, with coin-edge angular and flat bezel on top of a thin case with integrated lugs. The layout of the dial is almost identical to the Ref. 96, with hours and minutes displayed centrally by dauphine-shaped hands, prism-shaped hour indices and small seconds shown on a sub-dial.
Unlike the Ref. 96, however, the sub-dial now sits above 6 o’clock, whereas in the original model it sat between the hour indices at 5 and 7 o’clock respectively. Inside is the hand-wind Caliber 215 PS, measuring just 2.55mm thick and beating at a steady 28,800vph. Four different versions are available; white gold, yellow gold, rose gold and platinum. My favourite is the platinum version, which features a 2-tone silvery grey dial and gold applied Breguet-style numerals (which is reminiscent of several versions of the ref. 570) instead of the prism-shaped hour markers of the 3 others, yet perfectly accurate historically speaking – again, very much in the same vein as the original Ref. 96.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5296
The other reference most like the original Ref. 96 is the Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5296. This series is comprised of four models, featuring two different dials and case metals. The Ref. 5296-010 is the quintessential remake of the Ref. 96 with indirect seconds that we talked about in Part 1. Although now, of course, it features its own in-house movement, the automatic Caliber 324 S C, complete with Gyromax® balance and Spiromax® balance spring. The dial features dauphine-shaped hands and prism-shaped hours like the Ref. 5196.
However, the main evolution compared to its sister the 5196, is that it also includes the added functionality of a date window at 3 o’clock, which was most certainly not included in the original Ref. 96. The Ref. 5296-001 meanwhile, features a very stylish sector dial, in two-tone silvery-gray, with blue highlights for the sectors and the hands. According to Patek Philippe, the design of this model is inspired directly by the Ref 96 SC from 1934. Both models are offered in a slightly larger 38mm case in your choice of either white or rose gold.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5116 and Ref. 5119
The Calatrava Ref. 5116 and Ref. 5119 are the modern-day embodiments of the original Ref. 3520 we spoke about in Part 2. Launched in 1973, this model was the first to feature the Clous de Paris guilloche – or hobnail, as it is better known in English – bezel, which has since become so closely associated with the Calatrava. Offered in slightly smaller 36mm cases, both the Ref. 5116 and Ref. 5119 are powered by the same Caliber 215 PS as the Ref. 5196 above.
The Ref. 5119 is available in your choice of white gold, yellow gold and rose gold and features a white lacquered dial with black Roman numerals, whilst the Ref. 5116 is available exclusively in rose gold and features a gorgeous enamel dial with black Roman numerals, making this watch far more exclusive than the other models (not to mention also pricier).
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 6006G
The Ref. 6006G Calatrava was one of Patek Philippe’s debuts for Baselworld 2017, and is the third generation in a series that made its debut in the early 1990’s. This latest model replaces the Ref. 6000G, which was introduced into the collection in 2005. Without doubt, it is one of the more unorthodox models in the Calatrava line-up, with a very distinctive dial layout featuring an inner chapter ring for the hours and minutes and an outer chapter ring for the date, which is indicated by hand.
The other trademark of this series is, of course, the subsidiary seconds dial, unusually placed between 4 and 5 o’clock, a design quirk of the calibre 240 PS movement inside, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The two-tone dial, white against a contrasting black background, is highly legible and still channels the Bauhaus ethos of form following function, which guides the design of all Calatrava models. Presented in a larger 39mm case in white gold, it’s much modern and wearable by today’s standards but perhaps doesn’t offer the same timeless appeal as other Calatrava models.
Patek Philippe Calatrava “Squelette” Ref. 5180/1R
As I mentioned above, 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the Patek Philippe calibre 240 PS. As part of the celebrations, Patek unveiled the new Calatrava “Squelette” Ref. 5180/1R in 18K rose gold at Baselworld 2017, putting the movement on full display for all to see and enjoy. Expertly skeletonized by Patek’s artisans, the plate is open-worked even above the barrel, exposing the coiled mainspring beneath the pierced contour of the Calatrava cross. It takes more than a week to create the transparency of the movement before it finds it way onto the workbench of the engraver who spends upwards of 130 hours decorating the remaining structures with vivid arabesques and volutes.
The “Patek Philippe Genève” brand signature is engraved on the remaining parts of the barrel frame around the Calatrava cross, which itself is also decorated. Finally, the entire skeletonized movement chassis is plated with rose gold and then polished to match the case and bracelet. Framing all this is a movement holder ring in 18K rose gold, which has been skeletonized down to 12 spokes that serve as hour markers. Not the subtle, understated type of Calatrava we’re used to seeing perhaps but an absolutely stunning work of art all the same.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524
Finally, we come to what has been the most contentious Calatrava (and perhaps even Patek Philippe?) model of recent years: the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524. Launched at Baselworld 2015, this model created instant buzz and a whole lot of debate. For many, it is hard to consider this as a Calatrava at all, given that it is presented in a 42mm case (made from 18k white gold, not steel as you might expect), and features a second time-zone indication complete with day/night indicators and two lockable pushers on the left-hand side of the case. That said, military style watches are not entirely unprecedented in Patek Philippe’s history, and in fact, we even mentioned the Pilot dial Calatrava Ref. 96 in Part 1.
Likewise, there are still many Bauhaus elements to the Ref. 5524, such as the distinctive font, the ease of use and the highly practical nature of the watch. It may not look like the traditional Calatrava we are used to, but it still follows many of the same principles and rules. Inside is the automatic calibre CH 324 S C FUS, which offers a 45-hour power reserve and is adorned with the Patek Philippe seal, confirming the exceptional high-level finish and precision the movement offers. Is it a true Calatrava watch, however? That’s up to you to decide, based on everything you’ve learned after reading this and Part. 1 (focussing on the very first model of the collection, the reference 96) and Part. 2 (the most important vintage models).
We hope you have enjoyed our deep dive into the iconic Calatrava collection and we look forward to reading more of your comments and feedback.
I really enjoyed the concise history. Having been familiar with the vintage models but not knowing the chronology was a bit confusing. This helped clarify that issue. I find it interesting that PP hasn’t released a steel model in so long. From other articles it seems they want to entice a younger generation to PP, & this would seem a way to do that as well as more mature buyers. In my humble opinion there is something wonderfully subtle and understated about a steel PP.
5524G is not a Calatrava. Calatrava does not feature any additional functionality outside of the occasional date. The limited 5522A that debuted in NY is though.
Thanks Joel, really glad to hear you enjoyed reading it. I have to admit it was fascinating doing all the research. I agree withy our point also. I think a Calatrava in steel, like a Ref. 5196 for example, would be cool and certainly appealing to younger buyers, although I wonder if this would detract from the “simple luxury” aspect of the Calatrava?
Wonderful trio of articles tracing the history of the Calatrava to modern times. Many thanks! Found it informative and interesting – will certainly re-read it from time to time as the simple time only Calatrava has always intrigued me with its simplicity. Of course, one could argue that the hobnail bezel does provide some functionality- it disguises the scratches the polished bezel receives in daily wear in addition to providing aesthetic value!
thanks a lot for your articles, very appreciated and educative story with a comprehensive list of reference models (some unknown to me). Also, it is very interesting the connection with Bauhaus I was not aware of.
Hahaha, good point Han, did not think of that! Glad to hear you enjoyed the articles.
Thanks Andrea, really glad to hear you enjoyed the articles too. It’s amazing how interesting such a simple watch can be!
Aaron, the Ref. 5524G is actually a Calatrava, hence the reason it’s full name, per all official PP documentation, is the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524. Whilst the Calatrava is best known for its simple design, there are occasionally models that feature complications above and beyond the date.
Just wondering why you didn’t make reference (pun intended) to Ref. 3919 – the 1985 model which is the immediate ancestor of the 5116 and 5119. It was the most popular Calatrava model and legend has it that it was designed by Patek Phillipe’s advertising account manager- Rene Bittel for an ad campaign that was supposed to embody the firm’s values…cheers!
Thanks for your comment and great question. This wasn’t a deliberate omission, rather there were just so many incredible Calatravas throughout history it was hard to capture them all. I think the Ref. 3919 definitely would have been a great addition to our list however, so thank you for sharing!
Excellent series on the iconic Calatrava.
I want to know your opinion on Ref. 2449 and if it has any historical significance, or if it is a collectible reference.
My father had one, which my brother inherited. It is from the 50’s.
Thanks and best regards
Why I can’t find anything about 5052? Do you know anything about it? Cheers
@marlon – because the ref. 5052 never existed. I just checked in the Authorised Biography.
the slight differences and variation make this an unsettling field to be looking into. i’m somewhat in the market for buying one vintage watch, and don’t have the ability to carry out due diligence on what i might be looking at as an option; my health simply doesn’t cope, and neither does my knowledge or experience.
every reference i see – and i’ve looked at dress watches from VC (6378, 6562) and PP (96 and others here) mostly so far – quickly turns up variations which may or may not be genuine. i love dark dials (always special orders or low production?) prefer white metal (especially gold) and especially like the diamond markers. both VC and PP have done similar dress watches – PP covered here, VC not – and guessing both use metal dials due to the mount of the stones.
i can’t be sure how to assess when a case, caliber, and dial could cover decades, with a dozen or so only of each variation put out from one year to the next, which returns or repeats coming along every now and then? most variants have some appear to me, but i am much more concerned about being burned.
it doesn’t take long to find sites missing details or being vague enough to not want to be taking the risk declaring what they’re asking high prices for as entirely genuine or unadulterated, as it seems like their considerable general age makes people have varying levels of acceptance over such issues, same with tolerance from the sellers of them too.