Patek Philippe has one of the most illustrious watchmaking pasts of all Swiss brands. While most conjure images of classic dress watches and sophisticated Nautilus or Aquanaut sports watches when they think of this brand, Patek Philippe actually also has a rich history in pilot watches. A tour around the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva reveals aviator watches dating back to 1936.
In fact, two historic models from that era include an hour-angle dial wristwatch and a siderometer wristwatch – each of which boasts an hour hand that rotates once in 24 hours and that points to the degrees in an arc. These watches helped pilots determine their course according to the stars. They also inspired the brand for its current-day offerings.
The first Calatrava Pilot watch introduced in the new millennium was the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524G, released in 2015. Since then, the pilot-style watch has become an essential constituent of the brand. In fact, Patek Philippe has even incorporated some high complications into its pilot-style watches and released limited editions that have followers on their toes.
Patek Philippe Ref. 5524G and 5524R Calatrava Pilot Travel Time
Because it was the first modern-day Pilot watch, the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524G and Ref. 5524R have both become some of the most sought-after pieces among collectors. Offered in white gold first, then followed by rose gold, the 42mm watch tells time in local and home zones. Powered by the 290-part Caliber 26-330 S C FUS self-winding movement, the watch showcases dual time and uses a day/night indication for each zone via two apertures on the center of the dial. The local time is indicated via the main hand, but a second hand that is tucked away behind the main hand, when not being used, pops out from its hiding space to indicate the home time.
The watch also features a sweep seconds hand and date indication via a subsidiary dial at 6:00. The white gold version boasts a stunning blue varnished dial with gold applied numerals that are coated in luminescent material. Water resistant to 60 meters, it is finished with a vintage-style calf leather strap. The look: sporty chic. The rose gold version features a brown sunburst dial that graduates from brown to black at the outer edges for a rich, sophisticated appeal.
Patek Philippe Ref. 7234R and 7234G Calatrava Pilot Travel Time
Unveiled after the original Ref. 5524 models launched in 2015, the Ref. 7234R (rose gold) and Ref. 7234G (white gold) Calatrava Pilot Travel Time versions were released in 2018 and 2020, respectively. Similar in colorways to their older siblings, the new references were scaled down from 42mm to 37. 5mm in diameter to fit the smaller wrist. Making them the first pilot-style watches more suitable for ladies in the brand’s lineup.
Both watches are powered by the self-winding mechanical Caliber 26-330 S C FUS and operate in the same manner as their older and larger siblings. While the rose gold version is fitted with a brown leather strap with white stitching, the white gold model boasts a blue dial and a color-coordinated blue strap. Here again, the form follows function, with dual time zone indication, and – for this model – a date subsidiary dial resides at 6:00 on the main dial. The first day of each month boasts an orange 1 that stands out from the other dates.
The watch is incredibly user-friendly when it comes to setting the second time zone. The wearer just needs to activate one of the two pushers on the left side of the case to move the local time hour hand. It can be manipulated clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the pusher used. Both pushers are fitted with a patented safety lock to prevent accidental adjustments of the local time zone.
Patek Philippe Ref. 5520P Alarm Travel Time
Patek Philippe’s much coveted pilot-style Ref. 5520P – for platinum – is an Alarm Travel Time watch. Released in 2019, it houses a then-new self-winding mechanical movement that combines the Travel Time function with the alarm function. The movement, AL 30-660 S C FUS, boasts a 24-hour alarm with a hammer that strikes against a classic gong to sound the alarm. For the alarm portion of the watch, Patek Philippe secured four patents. It marks Patek Philippe’s first chiming watch with a water-resistant case – to 30 meters.
The Travel Time function, as with the other Patek Philippe Travel Time watches, boasts dual time zone indication with the help of a tucked-away hour hand that comes to life when needed. The watch measures 42.2mm in diameter and is hefty, thanks to the platinum case. The dial is ebony black with applied gold numerals with luminescent coating. It is finished with a black calfskin strap. This Grand Complication also boasts patented safety locks for the alarm pushers and the time zone pushers – which are harmoniously balanced with two on each side of the case. In short, this watch is the quintessential travel watch because it offers time in both zones and an alarm function, not to mention superb looks.
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