After the hype and excitement that always comes with the first day of Watches & Wonders and seeing all the big releases for the first time, it was in the evening that I finally got to reflect on what I’d seen. And ultimately, I came to the conclusion that the most unexpectedly cool watches I saw were the new Patek Philippe Calatrava 5226G and Annual Calendar Travel Time 5326G.
They make for an interesting pair because while they’re very different mechanically they share a lot of visual elements. Both cases are made from white gold with a hobnail guilloché caseband, which is a pattern we saw revived with the ‘Clous De Paris’ Ref. 6119 last year. The hobnail adds a tactile element to holding the watches and is frankly just pleasing to look at. A subtle but important fact is that the hobnailing continues behind the lugs, as the lugs are attached separately, which not something you typically see on decorated casebands.
However, why I say these watches are “unexpectedly cool” are their dials. They’re about as far from traditional Patek Philippe as it’s possible to get, tossing aside traditional finishes in favour of a trendy, retro-inspired texture. That texture is granular and random – not the typical pristine lines and careful placement of Patek – and is supposed to represent vintage camera cases, something it achieves remarkably well.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5226G
The Calatrava Ref. 5226G showcases the new dial finishing off to the greatest degree, as it’s a simple time and date design. It’s hard to describe, but to me it feels un-Patek in a good way. Although, like the majority of watches from the brand, it wears insanely well on the wrist with excellent proportions and a 40mm diameter.
Inside, the Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5226G houses the Calibre 26-330 S C, an automatic piece with a gold rotor and a 45-hour power reserve. You can see the rotor through the exhibition sapphire caseback, along with the rest of the haute horological finishing. While the Ref. 5226G is my favourite of the two watches, it must be admitted the calibre in this watch is less interesting than the one in the Annual Calendar Travel Time, which is expected given the complexity of the Ref. 5326G’s complications.
Price & Specs
Ref: 5226G-001 | Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 8.53mm height, 18K white gold case, textured charcoal grey dial, black gradient rim, gold applied numerals with beige luminescent coating | Water resistance: 30m | Movement: Caliber 26‑330 S C, automatic, 30 jewels, Chronometer Certified with Patek Philippe Seal | Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) | Power reserve: 45h | Functions: Hours, minutes, sweep seconds, date | Strap: Calfskin, nubuck finish, hand-stitched, beige (originally fitted). Calfskin, embossed with fabric pattern, hand-stitched, black (additional strap). Prong buckle. | Price: £30,060
More details at Patek Philippe.
Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Travel Time Ref. 5326G
Specifically, the Annual Calendar Travel Time is first time that Patek Philippe have combined those functions on a wristwatch. The annual calendar portion shows days, date, months and moonphase while the travel time is Patek’s version of a second time zone. In terms of display the calendar is fairly self-explanatory and the travel time complication consists of a pair of hour hands, one of which is skeletonised, that display local and home time. If one is not in use, they can be placed atop each other to resemble a single hand. Further to that, there’s a pair of day/night indicators at 9 and 3 labelled “Home” and “Local”.
Each of the various functions of the Ref. 5326G-001 can be adjusted with the associated correctors around the caseband, except for the travel time. That’s because the traditional pushers that can jump the time zone forward and back have been replaced by a discrete winding-stem setting system, which was introduced on the Aquanaut Luce Travel Time last year.
The movement that operates it all is the Calibre 31-260 PS QA LU FUS 24H, which is a name that really rolls off the tongue… It features 8 patents and includes multiple technical elements taken from last year’s Ref. 5236 Perpetual Calendar including the 20% increased barrel torque and efficient micro-rotor winding system. The power reserve is 48-hours.
The most important aspect of the calibre is that the annual calendar runs based off the travel time complication, meaning that if you jump local time across the boundary a day (forwards or backwards), the calendar will change the date accordingly. Additionally, the period of time that it takes for the calendar to advance the date has been reduced from 90 minutes to 18. This decreases the chances of misalignment occurring caused by manually changing the display during that period.
Overall, the Ref. 5326G is a complex watch that feels like the culmination of years of innovation with a cool vintage appearance. And that retro look is emphasised all the more prominently on the Calatrava Ref. 5226G. My final thought on them is that they don’t sit particularly well alongside Patek Philippe’s existing ranges, at least visually, but they make for an interesting new direction for the brand – one that embraces trends and being trendy. Although the prices are definitely classic Patek at £59,200 for the Calendar and £30,060 for the Calatrava.
Price & Specs
Ref: 5326G-001 | Case/dial: 41mm diameter x 11.7mm height, 18K white gold case, textured charcoal grey dial, black gradient rim, gold applied numerals with beige luminescent coating | Water resistance: 30m | Movement: Caliber 31‑260 PS QA LU FUS 24H, automatic, annual calendar, 409 parts, Patek seal | Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) | Power reserve: 45h | Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, day, date and month in apertures, two time zones: local and home time indication, local and home day/night indication, moonphases | Strap: Calfskin, nubuck finish, hand-stitched, beige (originally fitted). Calfskin, embossed with fabric pattern, hand-stitched, black (additional strap). Fold-over clasp. | Price: £59,200
More details at Patek Philippe.