Working 9 to 17: Patek Philippe’s stunning Calatrava Travel Time
A 24-hour-display dial takes a bit of adjustment to read as instantly as your usual 12-hour. But not as long as you’d think. Patek Philippe’s Calatrava Travel Time was the blue-eyed posterboy of the resurgent Watches and Wonders event, Geneva’s luxury watchmaking fair, which took place earlier this month.
A consolidation of the now-defunct ‘Baselworld’ and Richemont Group’s breakaway ‘SIHH’, Watches and Wonders is now the pre-eminent in-person watch expo, and a fittingly luxurious space to show off Patek’s latest creation.
Doubly fitting is that the Calatrava Travel Time is a metropolitan, global traveller’s timepiece. Urbane in cerulean, warm precious metal and rakish typography, it’s not only a Patek Philippe – Swiss for ‘finest watch in the world’ – but a Patek Philippe with cool, calm, time-zone straddling sociability.
The Genevan horloger has deployed 24-hour read-outs in the past, notably on the club subscription ‘Chronometro Gondolo’ watches produced in the early 20th century for the Brazilian retailer Gondolo & Labouriau.
One of these, an extravagantly ‘calligraphised’ pocket watch made in 1905, is now exhibited in the Patek Philippe Museum (No. P-527, pictured). For the new Reference 5224R-001, Patek’s design team have reinterpreted this unconventional type of indication in a resolutely modern spirit, choosing to place noon at 12 o’clock, rather than at 6 o’clock as is usually the case, thereby ensuring decent legibility through daytime hours.
Adjusting one’s eyes to all this isn’t a big ask. Nor is the task of slowing the hours hands by 50 per cent, as its own cog in the underlying geartrain need only have its tooth-count upped by 100% per cent.
However, this does present downstream technical challenges as – much like any delicately poised anatomy – there’s literally no room. So, with a slightly upped diameter for the hours wheel, a nudge and a shuffle must happen elsewhere, everywhere.
Visible through a transparent sapphire-crystal back, the ‘new’ – i.e. massaged, whittled and painstakingly finessed – self winding calibre 31-260 PS FUS 24H movement, powered by a micro-rotor in platinum, retains a case whose 9.85mm height is perfectly suited to the marque’s measure of ‘Calatrava’ classicism.
To preserve the sleek lines, Patek Philippe also replaced the traditional correction pushers for the secondary ‘local’ hours hand on the left flank of the case with a patented correction system using the crown pulled out to the intermediate position (backwards and forwards adjustments in one hour steps).
If not, worry not. The important thing is that Swiss watchmaking is back on the move, making movements to move you, which happen to prove genuinely useful when on the actual move. Though hopefully a little further beyond a conference centre neighbouring a taxiway on the outskirts of Geneva.
- The Patek Philippe Ref. 5224R is available now in rose gold on calfskin leather with nubuck finish, £46,190, patek.com