Up Close With The Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524G (With Original Photos & Pricing)

Introduced at Baselworld 2015, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524G is the most controversial new release from Patek Philippe this year. Despite being drastically different from any other contemporary Patek Philippe, the Ref. 5524G not so much radical as it is generic. 

Eliciting reactions ranging from ambivalence to outright loathing, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524G has managed to garner plenty of publicity for Patek Philippe. The reason the Ref. 5524G is controversial is its styling, which departs radically from anything else Patek Philippe has to offer.

Patek Philippe rightly claims to have some history in making aviator’s timepieces, having made two prototype pilot’s watches with hour angle dials in 1936 (one sold for US$1.7 million in 2009). Its great rival Vacheron Constantin also produced three similar watches in the same period. But the new Pilot Travel Time looks nothing like those prototypes.

Amongst the accusations levelled at the watch is that it resembles the Zenith Pilot watches. That is true, but unfair, because the look of the Zenith Aeronef Pilot watches is a generic one, common to early aviation watches of the 1920s. Similar watches were made by Omega, Helvetia and several other firms. If anything the Pilot Travel Time is derivative and anodyne. It looks like a generic pilot’s watch.

But like any other modern Patek Philippe wristwatch it is well made. The dial in particularly is well detailed and high quality, probably more so than any other aviator-style watch on the market. The dial isn’t actually black, instead it’s a very, matte blue. The best part of the dial is the hour markers which are applied Arabic numerals made of solid white gold and filled with Super-Luminova.

Mechanically the Pilot Travel Time is identical to the other Patek Philippe Travel Time watches, with the same calibre Caliber 324. It’s a small movement with a regrettably short power reserve of between 35 to 45 hours. Because the movement is only 31mm in diameter, while the case is 42mm (making it one of the largest Patek Philippe watches), the view from the back is a disparate one.

The two pushers on the left of the case set the second time zone hand (white and skeletonised) forwards or backwards in one hour intervals. When not in use the hand can be hidden under the hour hand. Both pushers lock with a quarter turn, preventing inadvertent changing of the time zone.

Two circular apertures at three and nine o’clock indicate day or night for each time zone, while the sub-dial at six is for the date.

Beyond the watch itself, the Pilot Travel Time makes commercial sense. Being different from any other modern Patek Philippe, the Pilot Travel Time fills a gap in the line-up and offers the client something different. That’s especially important since Patek Philippe is now such a large company with sales of some SFr1.28 billion according to Bank Vontobel.

True to form Patek Philippe has priced the Pilot Travel Time as a luxe travel watch, with a retail price of SFr42,000 or S$61,100.

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Chronoswiss Introduces the One of a Kind Ouroboros Quarter Repeater for Only Watch 2015

Decorated with a hand engraved serpent devouring its own tail, the Chronoswiss Ouroboros is unique quarter repeater made for Only Watch 2015.

Chronoswiss’ contribution to charity auction Only Watch is a one of a kind version of its signature quarter repeater. Featuring a dial made of solid white gold, the watch gets its name from the dial decoration depicting the ouroboros, an ancient symbol of rebirth with a snake eating its own tail. Once based in Germany but now in Switzerland after a change in ownership, Chronoswiss got its start by adding complications to vintage movements. The calibre C.126 inside the Ouroboros is such an example, with the base calibre originally an Enicar automatic from the 1960s that Chronoswiss founder Gerd R. Lang acquired.

It’s fitted with a Dubois-Depraz quarter repeating module that chimes the hours and quarters when activated by the button at 11 o’clock. As chiming watches go, the Chronoswiss quarter repeater is one of the most affordably priced, starting at about US$25,000 in steel.

Like the dial the case is 18k white gold, with a diameter of 40mm and the screwed lug bars that are a Chronoswiss trademark.  The Ouroboros will be sold on November 7, 2015, along with 42 other unique timepieces, to benefit a foundation that supports research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 

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