March 31, 2022
by Tom Roth
You’d be forgiven if you mistook Patek Philippe’s newest Calatrava for, well, anything other than a Calatrava. After nearly a century, the Calatrava has become almost archetypal in its design language, acting as a beacon that can guide even the most, shall we say creative watchmakers back to horology’s original style. Occasionally, however, the Swiss get a wandering eye and strike out for glory. Such was the case with the 5000J and its 4 o’clock sub-seconds subdial, an asymmetrical curveball that somehow fit perfectly with the 1990’s irreverence that spawned the 5000J, but that looks positively quaint by today’s standards.
This week’s flurry of new watch releases has been notable for lots of reasons and, in no small part, Patek’s new Calatrava is part of that story. The 5226G marks another departure from the Calatrava’s staid style, introducing some all-new elements while ditching others that have been long-held. The gold rotor affixed to the automatic movement is, as usual, a trademark of Patek timepieces but the addition of a hobnail patterned guilloche caseband is both new and exciting, especially by the uniform Calatrava standards. While the caseband is more subtle, more noticeable are the 5226G’s bold new dial, hands, and numerals. All three represent significant departures from the typical Calatrava fare.
To begin, the dial here is a deep charcoal shade that fades to black at the edges. This gradient is also richly textured, appearing more like asphalt than anything else. Applied to it are clean, sans-serif gold Arabic numerals that are a far cry from the typical cursive fonts often seen on many Calatravas. These markers are coated with beige luminescence, a choice that veers the 5226G close to the “fauxtina” cliff, but thankfully, it manages to stay on course in part thanks to the light tan calfskin strap that makes the taupe theme more cohesive. And speaking of numbers, observers will notice Patek’s utilitarian choice to include numerals at 5-minute intervals around the outer minute track. Certainly, this is not something seen on most dress watches which begs the question, is the 5226G even a dress watch at all?
That question will likely remain open to interpretation. Syringe hands like those on the 5226G can be found on dress and tool watches alike. Similarly, date windows — historically an automatic disqualifier for defining a watch as “dressy” —have reached wider acceptance and can be found on many watches that are generally agreed to be dress watches. It’s too soon to say how history will judge the Calatrava 5226G but for now, we applaud the new style.
Brand: Patek Philippe
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Case Material: White gold
Movement: Automatic Caliber 26-330 S C
Frequency: 28,800 bph
Power Reserve: 45 hours
Strap/Bracelet: Hand-stitched beige calfskin with nubuck finish (originally fitted). Also includes hand-stitched black calfskin strap embossed with fabric pattern. Prong bucklePrice: $39,030 USD
Availability: Available now