The oldest independent, family-owned Genevan watch manufacture is famously tight-lipped when it comes to what will be culled from its collections and what will appear in place—so informed observers were surprised when Patek Philippe announced, days before Watches & Wonders, that it would be welcoming three new white gold timepieces into the Calatrava family, applying a contemporary, graphic new aesthetic to its iconic, dressy, round wristwatch line.
All three feature a black dial whose distinguishing feature is an embossed chequered pattern in a smaller circle at the center, which juxtapose elegantly with the flashes of yellow, sky blue, or red (depending on which you opt for) found on the counters, seconds hands and strap stitching.
Unveiling 17 new watches in Geneva—the home city of the Stern family—for only the second time, Patek had a few more surprises up its sleeve. Here are the highlights of what the Swiss giants unveiled this time around.
New Takes on Famous Striking Watches
Patek’s repertoire, which currently hovers at around 150 references, has always involved exceptional ambition when it comes to complication combos: as exemplified in 2014 when it unveiled the Grandmaster Chime which, with more than 20 complications, went into the history books as the most intricate wristwatch ever created.
These complications included five chiming modes (one of them being an alarm striking the times and dates on demand). Now, the manufacture has reimagined the design of that model’s double-face reversible case in white and rose gold (Reference 6300GR-001). Two brown opaline dials, with a Clous de Paris (tiny, guillochéd pyramid-like squares displaying the time) complemented by a two-tone, chestnut-hued, patinated alligator strap and bicolor folding buckle.
Elsewhere, Patek has alloyed haute horlogerie with haute joaillerie in Reference 6300/403G-001: a piece that shimmers with 118 baguette-cut emeralds and 291 baguette-cut diamonds, set against two dials in ebony-black opaline, with a hand-guilloched Clous de Paris: here, a shiny black alligator leather strap with emerald-green hand-stitching completes the effect.
A new interpretation of Reference 5316, which was launched six years ago and unites a minute repeater, a tourbillon, a perpetual calendar with retrograde date hand and a moon-phase indicator (Reference 5316/50P-001), unites a platinum case and a sapphire-crystal dial with blue metallization and a black-gradient rim. Meanwhile, the Rare Handcrafts World Time Minute Repeater (Reference 5531G-001) becomes the company’s first such model in white gold. The new Grand Feu cloisonné enamel scene at the center of the dial depicts one of Lake Geneva’s famous steamboats.
Refreshed Designs in the Calatrava collection
On top of the new white gold iterations mentioned above, Patek has opted to replenish its Calatrava collection—which, since its launch in 1932, has become widely considered the gold standard when it comes to dress watches—with a variety of complications.
Reference 5224R-001—whose rose-gold case works harmoniously with its blue dial and hand-applied numerals, hour markers, and five-minute cabochons in rose gold—features a Travel Time dual time zone function and an original 24-hour display, while its brand new self-winding movement boasts a patented system whereby local time can be corrected via the crown.
References 5924G-001 and 5924G-010 see the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Chronograph furnished with two chronograph models: one with a blue-gray sunburst dial and a navy-blue grained calfskin strap; the other with a lacquered dial in khaki green and an olive-green calfskin strap with a vintage finish. Both pack a self-winding movement uniting a holy trinity of complications: a fly-back chronograph, a Travel Time dual time zone function, and the date indicated by a hand.
Elsewhere, the Calatrava line has been bolstered by modernized reiterations with ebony black dials, and a reinterpretation of a class self-winding model for women, here housed in a rose-gold case and boasting a strap and dial in purple (the latter packs impressive visual depth, thanks to its pattern of concentric waves being made up of more than fifty layers of translucent lacquer).
Stealing the show—at least when it comes to the Calatrava updates—was Reference 5189G-001, AKA “1948 Nations Grand Prix”. Limited to 10 pieces, the design is an homage to races held in Geneva from 1946 to 1950. The racing scene, with Lake Geneva’s Jet d’eau fountain as the backdrop, is rendered in Grand Feu cloisonné enamel, requiring 17 enamel colors as well as 40 cm of gold wire and silver leaf. The pierced watch hands and strap, meanwhile, hint at racing drivers’ gloves.
A Tasteful Makeover for the Aquanaut and Aquanaut Luce
The sport watch as we know it today, many watch buffs would argue, was effectively invented in 1972, when Audemars Piguet introduced the Royal Oak. Two more significant milestones in the sports watch narrative came in 1976 and 1997, though, when Patek launched the Nautilus (designed by the man who penned the Royal Oak, Gerald Genta) and the Aquanaut respectively.
Those lamenting the lack of updates to the former will be buoyed by intriguing additions to the latter line. A fitting sequel to the Travel Time dual time-zone model introduced in 2021 and a self-winding chronograph version the year after, an Aquanaut Luce model has been unveiled with a patented Annual Calendar.
Encased in rose gold, with a blue-gray dial and strap, Reference 5261R-001 bolsters the options for women Patek aficionados who favor non-gem-set models, as does the self-winding Reference 5268/200R-010: a piece whose rose-gold case contrasts elegantly with a dial and strap in taupe.
The self-winding Aquanaut chronograph for men (Reference 5968R-001), meanwhile, hitherto available in steel and in white gold, now comes in a rose-gold case with a sunburst dial in a gradient of brown to black.
Other highlights of Patek’s new novelties included the Self-winding Flyback Chronograph with Annual Calendar (Reference 5905R-010) with a rose-gold case and a blue sunburst dial and the Gondolo Serata (Reference 4962/200R-001): a stunning piece in rose gold, set with spessartites (golden brown aluminum garnets) complementing a brown-lacquered dial with a floral decoration.
Also unveiled in Geneva, as part of Patek Philippe’s “Rare Handcrafts 2023” collection being presented at its Salons in Geneva from April 1 to 15, was a pocket watch featuring a leopard, rendered in marquetry. The piece involved the assemblage of 363 tiny veneer parts and 50 inlays, and a palette of 21 species of wood of different colors, textures, and veining.