Don’t fall off your chair. This is a real watch and this is a real Patek Philippe. It”s no April’s fool neither one of our crazy predictions. You’re definitely in front Patek Philippe’s own Pilot Watch. Yes, the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524 is a proper surprise and when we saw it on press photos, we’ve been also extremely skeptical. However, we already had it on the wrist and it’s time to explain you why this watch.
Obviously, you were certainly expecting Patek Philippe to come at Baselworld 2015 with some dress watches, some new chronographs (and they have some pretty good ones that we’ll show you later) or some new Nautilus (they also have one, also for later this week). However, even the best watchmaking analysts couldn’t be prepared to this: an aviator watch from Patek Philippe. It’s indeed totally unexpected.
There’s something special however with this Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524. It has to be consider by two angles: as a Patek and as a watch – meaning as a product. You might think this is the first time Patek Phillipe is breaking the rules, but this is not. Just remember how shocking was the Nautilus, back in 1976. It was Patek’s first sports watch – and it is now a proper icon. So, if you look at the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time as a Patek Philippe, it will certainly leave you perplex. However, we have to look at it from an other angle – meaning as a product, without any brand printed on it – and then this pilot watch changes to something totally different and actually, quite interesting.
The first question that came in our minds is “where does watch come from?”. Patek Philippe, as a lot of manufactures, created pilot and military watches before WWII. Philip van Horn Weems, an officer of the U.S. Marines, came up with the idea for an hour angle watch which, enhanced according to suggestions by Charles Lindbergh, would allow simpler, faster, and more precise positioning when used together with a sextant and a radio signal.
Back in 1936, Patek Philippe made a unique watch called “hour angle dial” (with a unique features, as the hour hand rotates once in 24 hour and pointing the degrees of arc onto the center circle divided into 360 degrees). This special watch was sold by Christies on the 11 May 2009, for USD 1.710.690.
This watch shows that Patek Philippe already created such military oriented pilot wrist instruments, that can help to legitimate the introduction of the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time in the actual collection.
The Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524
This watch has to be seen for what it is and not only as a Patek. In order to keep a total integrity, we have to look at it without thinking it’s a Patek but instead to look at for a (very) refined and elegant pilot watch, made in 18k white gold and measuring a reasonable 42mm. What amazed us is how the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time has a different (and thankfully) better look once strapped on the wrist.
The case – as said before, made of precious 18k white gold instead of usual and more solid stainless steel – is fully mirror polished and comes with a large crown at 3 and thin, curved lugs. The 42mm diameter wears comfortable and offers both a appreciable feeling on the wrist – a pilot watch has to be quite large and 42mm is large for a Patek Philippe – without being too big and then uncomfortable. It also features two lockable pushers at 8 and 10 – as this watch brings one of the most practical complication for a pilot watch: a second time zone feature.
Besides the 3 classical hands – hours, minutes and central seconds – the Calatrava Pilot comes with Patek’s classical layout, meaning a GMT hand on the central axis and two apertures that indicate night and day for each time zone – local and home – and a date on a sub-dial at 6, thanks to the calibre CH 324 S C FUS. This self-winding movement is adorned with the Patek Philippe seal – that attests of a very high level of finish and precision. It boasts around 45 hours of power reserve and features Patek’s own free sprung balance wheel – a.k.a Gyromax.
Now we have to move to the most important and surprising aspect of this watch… its dial. Applied on a grained matte (very dark and close to black) navy blue plate are some large, white, luminous Arabic numerals – white gold numerals filled with white superluminova – that are actually both remarkable for a Patek and classical for a Pilot watch. That’s actually the reason why this Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524 sounds both odd and familiar: the dial, the indexes and the blued hands are what a pilot watch usually comes with. This Patek uses the same typically aviator codes than, for example, a Zenith Type 20 Aeronef or an IWC Big Pilot Watch (especially Le Petit Prince limited edition). Even if the Patek looks really good, it might be confusing to have such a luxury watch that resemble to a more affordable brand.
The question of the quality, of the finishing or of the functions is not relevant here. This Calatrava Pilot Travel Time is, without a doubt, a very good looking, elegant, extremely well finished pilot watch. However, it has Patek Philippe written on it dial and we have to consider that first, it breaks the actual codes of the brand and then, it is totally in line with other pilot watches. The main question remains simple: are Patek Philippe collectors going to adopt such a novelty? Yes. Will it be a best-seller? Certainly yes. Is a 42.000 CHF price justified? It seems to be high but quality-wise, it is 100% Patek. Do we like it here at Monochrome-Watches? After a long debate and a few hours to get used to it, yes.