Patek Philippe : For men who take accuracy seriously

Calatrava Pilot Travel Time

Case : 18K white gold, sapphire crystal back, water-resistant screw-down crown, water-resistant to 30m Diameter : 42mm Movement : mechanical self-winding (Caliber 324 S C FUS, max. 45h power reserve), 294 components, 21K gold central rotor with circular Côtes de Genève, circular-grained center, snailed sides, bridges beveled and adorned with Côtes de Genève Functions : hours, minutes, seconds, two time zones, separate day/night indications for local time and home time, pointer-type date display Dial : varnished blue, hands and numerals coated with SuperLuminova Strap : vintage brown calfskin leather with contrasting stitching, 18K white gold clevis prong buckle

Only the most discerning Patek Philippe connoisseurs will not be entirely surprised to discover this new release for 2015, featured on our front cover page, since they will already be aware of a pilot’s watch made in 1936 and on show in the Patek Philippe Museum. Every bit as masculine as its forerunner, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time has been successfully updated in terms of its design, its mechanism and its functions. While the first Patek Philippe worldtime watches date back to the 1930s and its first Travel Time patent registered in 1959, the models at that time were not equipped with a Spiromax® balance-spring in Silinvar® (derived from silicon technology) featuring patented geometry and ensuring extreme precision, as is that of the reference 5524 model unveiled at Baselworld 2015 ; nor with a heavy 21K gold central rotor visible through the sapphire crystal caseback. The openwork home time hand remains hidden beneath the local time hand when the two are identical. The two ergonomic time-zone pushers feature a patent pending safety lock that avoids any accidental deregulation of local time. To enhance readability, the pointer-type date display at 6 o’clock indicates the dates three at a time. The mesmerizing dial color evokes the blue livery of 1930s American fighter planes, whereas that of the strap is inspired by their pilots’ flight suits. This model clearly refuses to compromise between straightforward technology and contemporary elegance but instead melds both facets in perfect harmony, and the Patek aircraft carrier has plenty more surprises in store.


Pure split-seconds chronographs 

Almost a century after the Geneva Manufacture presented its first wristwatch chronograph that already boasted this useful function, Patek Philippe is extending its range of pure split-seconds chronographs with the Split-seconds chronograph Ref. 5370 in platinum : a two-pusher model, a stopwatch with two pushers for the basic start, stop, reset functions and an additional on/off button in the crown for the split-seconds function. The caliber CHR 29-535 PS movement, developed and crafted in-house, has so far only been built as a version with a perpetual calendar. Now, to the delight of purists, it is available as a pure split-seconds chronograph that melds tradition with innovation.


To preserve this heritage in the 21st century, it has been optimized in many respects and endowed with patented innovations that make this caliber the most progressive classic of its genre. For instance, clutch wheels with patented tooth profiles that efficiency in power transmission and reduce wear ; or a mesh depth of the clutch wheels which is not adjusted with an eccentric next to the clutch lever, but instead done much more precisely and easily with an eccentric column wheel cap at the outermost end of the clutch lever. In parallel, self-adjusting hammers in jewel bearings simplify the servicing procedure, the brake lever that stops the chronograph wheel is directly synchronized with the clutch lever, while the slotted minute-counter cam coasts the chronograph and split-seconds hands to a stop rather than abruptly blocking them.


These new features of the mechanical chronograph are joined by innovations dedicated exclusively to the split-seconds function : when lap times are stopped, a newly designed isolator uncouples the split-seconds wheel from the chronograph wheel to eliminate unwanted friction and prevent a degradation of balance amplitude while the split-seconds hand is immobilized. The split-seconds lever that positions a ruby roller between two flat heart cam shoulders keeps the chronograph and split-seconds hands precisely aligned as long as they are superposed.


Split-seconds chronograph Ref. 5370 

Case : Platinum 950, sapphire-crystal display back and interchangeable solid-platinum back, Top Wesselton diamond between the lugs at 6 o’clock, water resistant to 30m Diameter : 41 mm Movement : hand-wound mechanical movement (Caliber CHR 29-535 PS, 55-65h power reserve), 312 parts, 2 column wheels and horizontal clutch, adjustable balance spring stud, hand-made decorations, Patek Philippe Seal Functions : hours, minutes, split-seconds chronograph, instantaneous 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, sweep chronograph and split-seconds hands, subsidiary seconds at 9 o’clock Dial : white gold with genuine black enamel, applied Breguet numerals in 18K white gold, white printed scales (railway-track minute scale, tachymeter scale), leaf-shaped hands in 18K white gold with Superluminova coating or in 18K white gold Strap : hand-stitched alligator leather with large square scales, shiny black, platinum 950 fold-over clasp


Stellar decorations

These mechanisms are not only ingeniously designed but also lavishly finished by hand as befits a Patek Philippe movement. The magnificent interplay of bright glossy and lustrous silky areas is enhanced with contrasting golden hues and sparkling red bearing jewels, showcasing watchmaking artistry that can be admired through the sapphire-crystal case back. A glance at the dial illustrates what in Geneva is deemed functional beauty : fast and exact legibility without unnecessary embellishments that distract from the essence. Enamel dials, then as now, challenge the skills of the dialmakers to the extreme. The solid gold dial is first coated with black enamel by hand. The coating is melted in an oven at 850°C and then allowed to solidify to a glasslike consistency by controlled cooling. The result is an intense black that preserves its depth and gloss across centuries, as we know from ancient enamel artifacts found in Greece. At this point, small bores must be cautiously drilled into the hard, but also brittle, enamel to accommodate the tiny feet of the applied white-gold Breguet numerals. They contrast well against the black enamel as well as the white printed scales, one of which is a tachymeter scale calibrated to 1000 meters. It underscores the instrument-like personality of this split-seconds chronograph and contributes significantly to its masculine appeal.


Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Ref. 4947

Case: 18K white or rose gold with 77 diamonds (~0.43 ct) on caseband, 64 diamonds (~0.85 ct) on bezel, 14 diamonds (~0.06 ct) on crown, sapphire-crystal display back, 30m water-resistant crown Diameter: 38mm Movement: self-winding mechanical movement (Caliber 324 S QA LU with 35-45h power reserve), 328 parts, adjustable balance spring stud, central rotor in 21K gold with unidirectional winding, Patek Philippe Seal Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, annual calendar with day of the week, month, date, moon phases Dial: in brass, sunburst silvery gray or sunburst blue applied Breguet numerals in 18K white gold with Superluminova coating Strap: alligator leather with large square scales, shiny blue-gray, hand-stitched, 14-mm prong buckle in 18K white or rose gold


Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Ref. 4948 Haute Joaillerie

Case: 18K white or rose gold with 361 flawless rare white Top Wesselton diamonds (2.7cts) on bezel caseband and crown, sapphire-crystal display back, 30m water-resistant crown Diameter: 38mm Movement: self-winding mechanical movement (Caliber 324 S QA LU with 35-45h power reserve), 328 parts, adjustable balance spring stud, central rotor in 21K gold with unidirectional winding, Patek Philippe Seal Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, annual calendar with day of the week, month, date, moon phases Dial: black or white genuine mother-of-pearl Strap: alligator leather with large square scales, shiny blue-gray, hand-stitched, prong buckle in 18K white or rose gold set with 27 diamonds (totaling ~0.21 ct)


Among Patek Philippe’s complicated ladies’ watches, the Annual Calendar models belong to the most popular ones. The new Ref. 4947 and 4948 Annual Calendar watches are particularly striking examples of Patek Philippe’s globally admired Manufacture philosophy. They represent a balanced ensemble composed of cases, creative gemsetting artistry, and exquisite movements that can only be achieved if the specialized craftspeople work hand in hand under the same roof.


The precious diamond-set gold case accommodates the self-winding caliber 324 S QA LU Manufacture movement with the patented Annual Calendar, a useful and highly convenient complication. It indicates the day of the week and the month with hands and the date in a large aperture at 6 o’clock and only needs to be manually adjusted once a year at the transition from February to March. A small corrector at 4 o’clock makes this very easy. The moon-phase display, a firm favorite among women, requires even less attention. This poetic indication deviates from the actual lunar cycle by only one day every 122 years. The fantastic finish of the movement can be admired through the sapphire-crystal case back.


On the Annual Calendar Ref. 4948 Haute Joaillerie, the scintillation of 361 flawless rare white Top Wesselton diamonds brings the case, the bezel, and the crown to life. The sides and upper surfaces of the lugs are set with diamonds of different sizes as described above. Additionally, the caseband curvature between the lugs carries a row of diamonds that is concentric with those embedded in the bezel. The lower half of the case flank is also set with diamonds in two rows, again in progressively larger sizes to assure a gapless pavé look. The best match for a gem of this category is a genuine mother-of-pearl dial that underlays the seven different displays of the complicated mechanical movement with a subtle sheen without affecting their legibility. The white gold version features a black mother-of-pearl dial (white dial on the rose gold version) that clearly indicates the time with applied white-gold Breguet numerals swept over by slender leaf-shaped 18K white gold hour and minute hands with a luminous coating. The subsidiary dials with the crisply printed scales for the day and month are slightly recessed. Their leaf-shaped hands are crafted from 18K white gold.


It comes as no surprise that the new diamond-set Annual Calendar models in Patek Philippe’s collection for ladies will probably quicken the heartbeat of more women than there will be watches to go around.

Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

Review overview