Tickling the timely fancy of hardcore horological hawks, it is always exciting to uncover and explore the many watch exhibitor’s latest and greatest design and technical debuts. This March, we kept an eye out for the hottest releases at Baselworld 2019, with our pupils significantly dilating to the dials of one watchmaker in particular. No stranger to the world of such feats, we’re calling it right here, right now: Patek Philippe totally stole the show at Baselworld 2019.
Sure, Rolex presented a number of highly covetable pieces (from the new Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36 to the Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 42), and Bulgari broke another record with the world’s slimmest chronograph on the Octo Finissimo. Breitling honoured its aviation history with the beautifully vintage-style Navitimer Chronograph Airline Edition, and TAG Heuer revived its Autavia line. Yet for us, to reiterate our humble horological opinion one more time, the showstopper – nay – timestopper at Baselworld 2019 was undoubtedly Patek Philippe; with two models in particular.
Arguably, be you a proud Patek aficionado and you may say that the Swiss watchmaker knocks it out of the park just about any year, but this time Patek Philippe presented something under the loupe that is refreshingly new and intriguingly nostalgic. Introducing: the 5212 Calatrava Weekly Calendar and the 5520P Alarm Travel Time.
Before we begin, we’d like to call to the forefront and acknowledge that Patek’s offerings this year were indeed wide and varied. The 6300G Grandmaster Chime impressed with its strikingly big blue dial (riding a wave we caught on surfing SIHH 2019 trends), and the 5231J World Time boasted what is quite possibly still one of the most aesthetically beautiful World Timer complication watches. The refreshed 5168G Aquanaut caught eyes with its Khaki green and white gold hues, and the 5235R Annual Calendar Regulator brought a broody minimalist rose gold charm to the fair. The 5078G Minute Repeater, with its striking black enamel dial enamoured us a little, with the sweet addition of a dreamy chime for hours, quarters, and minutes… but we’re rambling.
Not to drop names of cool celebrity watch insiders or anything, but even the equally swoon-worthy John Mayer has publicly proclaimed to the unofficial Watch Lovers’ Bible Hodinkee that he loves the following.
The Patek Philippe 5212 Calatrava Weekly Calendar
In a glimpse
The watch Mayer refers to is the Calatrava Weekly Calendar. It is noted for its innovative complication, featuring a totally new self-winding, performance-optimised base movement, housed in an impressive steel case. What first meets the eye, however, is that the watch boasts a unique typography on its dial, rumoured to be inspired by the handwriting of one of its designers. It is an unusual release for Patek Philippe, particularly under the typically quite formal and dress watch-y feel of the Calatrava line, which is exactly what makes it so interesting.
Steel watches are so hot right now; and whilst the Calatrava Weekly Calendar is a far cry from the classic steel Rolex Pepsi GMT, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nostalgic on a different angle to a cup of soda, Patek’s Weekly Calendar timepiece presents a completely new 40mm case with a completely new dial, in a warm hue that feels easy to wear, and charming to sport.
It should not come as too much of a surprise, as since its launch in 1932, the Calatrava family has long been Patek Philippe’s most elegant expression of horological style. And yet, there is something somewhat whimsically lax about this timepiece; like the handsomely rolled up linen shirt sleeve of the collection. The use of typography on the dial is an unusually nonchalant touch, with the font resembling real human handwriting. Nevertheless, this casual and easy legibility is well balanced with the strong central hands and the aperture date display window at 3 o’clock, and a steel case to pull it all together.
Indeed, we mustn’t stroll past the spectacle that is the approximately 11mm thick stainless steel case. It is extremely uncommon and thereby extremely curious that the watch is not presented in a limited edition, making it one of the very, very few watches made of steel to be so (relatively) easily available.
The technical lowdown
The dial glimmers in a silvery opaline, with applied baton indexes in blackened 18k white gold, blackened 18k white gold dauphine hands for hours and minutes, a rhodiumed Pfinodal counterbalanced second hand, and charming red lacquered hammer heads for day-of-week and week number/month hand indication.
With the new Weekly Calendar, Patek Philippe unveils a completely new function for calendar watches, with a partially integrated mechanism, that not only shows the date and day of the week, but also the week number. This is enabled by the self-winding manufacture Calibre 26-330 SCJSE, with the movement viewable through a transparent sapphire-crystal caseback.
The timepiece is presented on a bright brown calfskin hand-stitched bracelet with a steel prong buckle. It is water resistant to 30 metres and has a power reserve of up to 45 hours. It is priced at THB 1,071,800.
Patek Philippe Alarm Travel Time 5520P
In a glimpse
Where the Calatrava Weekly Calendar is noted for its gentle spirit, the Patek Philippe Alarm Travel Time is perhaps the star of the Swiss watchmaker’s Baselworld 2019 repertoire, presenting itself with a big, bold appearance. Again, it is a bit of a stray from Patek’s classic aesthetic, bearing much of a sportive and robust stylistic language, but it’s a limb the Swiss watchmaker is proving worthy of going out on. The new grand complication combines a 24-hour alarm with a second time zone, making a statement both inside and out.
2019 seems to be the year in which ‘conservative’ does not exist in the Patek Philippe style dictionary. An expansion of the Calatrava Pilot collection, the 42.2mm self-winding Alarm Travel Time brings together the dual time display we knew and noted in the previous Travel Time edition, with an all-new alarm mechanism.
Yet beyond inner complications, the timepiece is visually striking, too. The brass dial in sunburst ebony black is contrasted with big applied Arabic numerals with Superluminova coating, while the alarm time is displayed bang-smack in the centre beneath the 12 o’clock indicator. ‘Local’ and ‘Home’ time appears at the 3 and 9 o’clock indicators as heartfelt typography. Most charmingly, this is complemented by a hammer that strikes to the sound of a classic gong when the alarm goes off.
Marrying logical functionality with a modern-military look, the pilot-style watch is further enhanced by a platinum case, and a sapphire-crystal caseback. In keeping with the Patek Philippe design ethos, the watch looks sporty, yet would still not look out of place in combination with a good suit – a factor that plays in well with the brand’s new-found sense of contemporary en classic.
The technical lowdown
Patek Philippe put forward an impressive four patents for the alarm mechanism, proving that its five years of research into the completely new integrated movement have been a worthy journey. These include the anti-backlash mechanism for programming the alarm time, alarm logic functions, digital alarm display, and alarm winding deactivation.
Furthermore, the standout pushers to the side of the dial allow for various adjustments, be it to increment local time at 8’clock, decrement local time at 10 o’clock, activate/deactivate the alarm at 2 o’clock, or activate the patented safety system by interlocking the pushers with a quarter turn. It shows that the Alarm Travel Time is a highly functional watch, juxtaposed with, again, a very legible and logical time display.
The timepiece is presented on a black calfskin strap with clevis prong buckle. It is water resistant to 30 metres and has a power reserve of up to 52 hours. It is priced at THB 7,266,000.