For the lust of traveling, for the love of horology – Introducing the new Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time
Editor’s note: This is a Mind, Body & Soul review of the new Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time watch. In addition to our standard long form reviews, we sometimes preview watches in the form of short descriptions, technical specifications and a creative infographic. These short form reviews, or Mind (stats), Body (design features) & Soul (what’s special) reviews as we like to call them, are meant for those who are in a rush and wish to get their watch fix fast. For our standard reviews, please head to our detailed review section here.
What is it: Inspired — not directly copied as they look different — by the brand’s 1930s aviator watches, it is the new Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time
Why: Because the world is going to resume travelling at some point, and when it does, why not travel in style
When released: Last month, September 2020
Where: Available — a relative word when talking about most Rolexes and Pateks — globally
Who is it for: For those who believe that the days of yore, the days of travelling unhindered are not gone. Seriously though, the watch is ideally meant for the pilots but let’s leave out the ‘true use’ of dive and pilot watches from this article. This is simply for the gentleman and lady who likes to flaunt one of the best that there is in watchmaking while chilling over the weekend on their private jets or yachts. It’s a school in itself that teaches how to design a weekend vibes meets class meets travelling timepiece.
How does it do: Since 2015, Patek has enthralled us — it actually has received mixed responses, perhaps enthralled is specifically aimed at myself — with these highly legible timepieces that stand out for their prominent case design, over-sized crown/pushers, large white numerals, luminous hands and a very distinctive dual time display. For us at WYGDAI, legibility is one of the key factors when we review timepieces. These Pilot Travel Time watches are thus not only a delight to look at but also to review.
Missing: Two things: one, there is nothing ‘new’ about this release in terms of watchmaking. I know it’s a good release but maybe doing something slight bit different would have been the way to go. What’s ironic is that while the Ref. 5524G Calatrava Travel Time was extremely disruptive for 2015, this one is not. Next, what baffles me is the incorporation of a screw-down crown when the water-resistance is only 60m.
Humble solution: A non-limited stainless steel version in 39mm with a power reserve of about 70-hours, water-resistance of 100m and a deployant bucket at this price point for us utopian watch seekers would be ideal. Also maybe shrink the pushers a little bit, por favor.
The Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time ref. 7234G-001 features the caliber 324 S C FUS which is an automatic winding mechanical movement featuring two time zones (local time and home time), separate day/night indicators for local and home time, and analog date synchronised with local time.
Beating at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h), the movement uses a unidirectional winding central rotor in 21K gold, Gyromax® balance, and a Spiromax® (in Silinvar®) balance spring with a fixed balance spring stud. The 31mm diameter and 4.9mm thick movement is comprised of 29 jewels and 294 components, offering a rather low 35 to 45-hour power reserve.
The movement is encased inside a mid-sized — almost ideal IMHO as a daily wearable watch for both men and women — 37.5mm diameter and 10.78mm thick 18K white gold case with a sapphire-crystal case back, a water-resistant screw-down crown and a flat and slightly beveled bezel as well as a case-band that merges almost seamlessly with the strap lugs. The compact watch has rather short interhorn spacing of 18mm that straddles a shiny navy blue calfskin strap with an 18K white gold clevis prong buckle that is reminiscent of the harnesses that allowed pilots to keep their parachutes and survival kits readily deployable. The new Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time is also delivered with an additional vintage brown with contrast stitching calfskin strap, again with a clevis prong buckle in 18K white gold.
The use of three crowns/pushers spread over both sides of the case and the two aperture displays on the dial are strong visual features and ones that for me really typify Patek’s travel watches (and separate them from the Zenith Type 20 GMT watches).
The latter are straightforward displays of day/night indicators: the local time is indicated at 9’o clock and home time at 3’o clock.
The former as oversized as they seem are equally straightforward too: the 8’o clock pusher helps to increment local time in one-hour steps, the 10’o clock pusher helps to decrement the local time in one-hour steps, and both pushers can be locked with a quarter turn thanks to Patek’s patented safety system. The crown at 3’o clock is a two-position crown, with the pushed-in position used to wind the watch and pulled-out position used to set the time.
Regardless of it not being a novel release, the new Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time ref. 7234G-001 is still another handsome addition to the the brand’s growing dual time collection.
Already existing in this versatile range are:
- Ref. 5524G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time beating with the caliber 324 S C FUS that is encased inside a 42mm diameter white-gold case with a blue lacquered dial featuring white-gold applied numerals and luminous hands in blued steel. Aka the new release’s big brother.
- Ref. 5524R-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time featuring the same specifications as above but aesthetically featuring a different look, this time showcasing the functions on a brown dial with black gradation towards the outer periphery, wrapped inside a rose-gold case.
- Ref. 7234R-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time is the predecessor and counterpart of the new Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time we are reviewing today. Aka the new release’s sister.
Besides the various options to choose from and the nicely decorated in-house movements these boast of, for me the star of the show is the highly legible dial encased inside a compact body of the new version.
This brass, lacquered blue dial features highly contrasting (and legible) applied 18K white gold with Superluminova coated Arabic numerals, and four different types of hands.
To maintain legibility yet provide contrast for different purposes, Patek has gone for baton hands for hours and minutes of local (travel) time in blued white gold with Superluminova coating, differentiating this from the home time with the use of baton but skeletonized hour hand in white lacquered white gold. The central sweep seconds hand is in steel with Superluminova coating. Last but not the least is the white lacquered leaf-shaped hand for the date at 6’o clock. The peripheral minute track nicely frames this display of time.
For those of you who would like a different colour option, Patek also has as part of this collection the same timepiece in rose gold with a brown black-graduated dial instead, the above mentioned ref. 7234R-001 that was released back in 2018.
One of my favourite aspects about this dial is the subtle incorporation of the hour marker at 6’o clock. The date counter at 6 eats into the Arabic numeral that would have been otherwise present in its absence, but instead of leaving the dial space empty, Patek chose to mark this with a horizontal marker. Not only does this balance out the dial, but it is also exemplifies the Maison’s impeccable attention to detail.
The Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time has seen its share of commentary since it was first unleashed onto the world back in 2015. So will the new version make waves? Depending on who you ask, the answer will vary. But for those who have the funds for it, it is perhaps the definition of the ultimate daily wearable high-end luxury GMT watch.
To find out more about the $48’985 USD new Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time and other Patek timepieces, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are ©Patek Philippe.