Let’s be honest… The Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524G (the white gold version) was a hot topic of discussion when launched at Baselworld 2015. Whatever the intrinsic qualities of this watch, it has been misunderstood. Too early, too radical, too different maybe. 3 years have passed now and there’s a new version in the collection, now in rose gold with a warm brown dial, under the ref. 5524R. With this new combination of colours, we think it’s time for the reconciliation. Let’s have a closer look at the now very-Patekish Rose gold Calatrava Pilot.
This new rose gold version of the 5524 is nothing more than a change of colours – for both the case and the dial – and the men’s version of a pair of watches introduced coincidentally at Baselworld 2018. Indeed, not only Patek has updated the men’s model but a ladies’ version has also been added to the collection, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 7234R Lady and its 37.5mm case – and indeed, it looks entirely equal with just different proportions, as reported by Rebecca in her review here. Two different sizes and a unique recipe for a highly desirable pair of watches. So, the question is: why this rather simple change of colours makes such a difference? answer a bit later in this article, after a look at the watch itself.
The 2015, inaugural white gold version of the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524
As said, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524 has been introduced at Baselworld 2015 as a true novelty, a properly unprecedented watch with (at first) no real link with Patek’s history. “A pilot’s watch by Patek? Sorry, did you just say that? Yes, I did…” As I can remember, people at that time have been completely surprised by this new watch – including me – as few saw the link with past models of the brand. It remains rather unknown but Patek had manufactured pilot’s watches in the past – as we explained in our first coverage of the 5524 here. As multiple other manufacturers, Patek created pilot and military watches before WWII. Back in 1936, Patek Philippe made a unique watch called “hour angle dial” (with a unique feature, as the hour hand rotates once in 24-hour and pointing the degrees of arc onto the centre circle divided into 360 degrees). Without being a proper re-edition of this watch, the 5524 was somehow inspired by this rather unknown piece – which is now exposed at the brand’s museum.
The watch Patek came with at Baselworld 2015 was quite classical – gothic applied numerals and antique pilot’s hands (that many compared to the Zenith Type 20 watches) – but when looking at Patek’s production, it was somehow radically different. So different that this watch became a hot topic of discussion. Back then, it was certainly a misunderstood creation. Yet, the watch had some arguments and, 3 years after its launch, many changed their minds – including me again – and the 5524 became an integral element of the collection (even with the inaugural white gold/blue dial combination).
Being a pilot’s watch doesn’t mean this Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524 isn’t a proper Patek either. It combines the attributes of both worlds in a desirable manner. The case, at least for a Patek, is large at 42mm and rather sporty in terms of shape and design. On the other hand, it was made of white gold and not of stainless steel. The dial showed large luminous numerals, yet they were extremely delicate in their execution. Also, the watch featured one of Patek’s signature display, the “Travel Time” indication as found on the Aquanaut for instance. Finally, the combination of a matte dark blue dial and a white gold case was sporty and in the vein of a pilot’s watch – and maybe, this is where it was too radical and not Patek enough.
With the Rose gold Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524R, it is time for the reconciliation, as this 2018 edition features a classic and highly Patek colour combination: rose gold case and warm brown dial. Warmer, far more luxurious and precious, the dial is no more matte but has a sunray brushed pattern which adds to the luxurious appeal of the watch and creates nice reflections. Altogether, the watch drastically changes in terms of style but also of category – from a sports casual watch in white gold to an elegant modern watch in rose gold. And in my books (I’m sure many will share these feelings with me), this watch feels both more consensual but also more desirable. It somehow re-gains the elegance you’re expecting from a Patek Philippe.
For the rest, this Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524R shares the same specifications as the 5524G. The relatively thin case (10.78mm) is entirely polished and features two mushroom-style screwed pushers on the left side of the case allow for the adjustment of the second time zone (local time) in an intuitive way: the bottom pusher brings forward the time by one hour increments, the top pusher does the opposite and the luminous local hour hand moves counterclockwise – so-to-say, a proper traveller’s watch. To avoid accidental adjustments, both pushers are protected with a patented safety lock and the local date can be set via a pusher in the case at 6:30 o’clock.
The dial is also very intuitive. The local time is indicated by the main cathedral hands while the home hour is given by the skeletonised hand. The 6 o’clock-positioned date is, of course, linked to the local time and both time-zones benefit from their own day-night indicators (with apertures at 3 and 9 o’clock, changing from white at day-time to blue at night-time). This traveller’s display is complemented by a central second hand.
Inside the case is the well-known calibre Calibre 324 S C FUS (for seconde central fuseaux or central second time-zones). This movement is based on the emblematic self-winding calibre with central rotor found in various Calatrava watches as well as on the Nautilus 5711 or the Aquanaut 5167. This “324 S C FUS” is found in the Aquanaut 5164A with entirely equal functions. Measuring 31mm in diameter with a height of 4.9mm, the movement has 294 parts and is enhanced with Patek’s innovations like a Gyromax® free sprung balance wheel and a Spiromax® balance spring. The high level of manual finishes and precision – with a tolerance of no more than -3/+2 seconds per day – are corroborated by the Patek Philippe Seal.
The only real complaint we could have about this movement is about its performances. Of course, as all Patek watches, it is greatly decorated and perfectly adjusted – no doubt about the precision of this watch on the long run. In addition to that, the way the complication is used on a daily basis is clever and convenient. Yet, this movement feels slightly outdated when looking at the power reserve – announced at minimum 35 hours / maximum 45 hours. Patek could improve this part and offer 3 days of power reserve – enough to leave the watch in the box during a weekend and strap it again on Monday without the need to adjust it – knowing that most of the future owners of this 5524R will certainly switch watch regularly. Nothing dramatic though.
The elegant casual look of the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524R is further enhanced by a nice calfskin strap with matte brown colour – and not an old-school shiny alligator strap, as often seen at Patek – and a three-piece fastener system. In this case, the clevis fastener was inspired by the harnesses that allowed pilots to keep their survival kits to hand and readily deployable.
The Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524R is again an impressive watch. The new colour combination makes a huge difference in terms of look and feel on the wrist, with a much more elegant touch. In the end, probably the version that Patek should have launched first to avoid the discussions seen in 2015… Price: EUR 43,210 – not cheap, but justified somehow by the execution and the beauty of this watch. More details on patek.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.