September 16, 2015
by James Stacey
Among mentions of modern Patek Philippe watches, the Calatrava line seldom receives the same level of enthusiasm as Patek’s more complicated pieces. Perhaps, this is a real-world expression of their subtle, under-the-radar design language and steadfast focus on their roots. The Calatrava hails from the early ’30s and represents a quintessential pillar of Patek’s line up. While not as complex as a perpetual calendar or as casual as an Aquanaut, the Calatrava is worth your attention if only because of its intense focus on being the ideal watch, and nothing more.
Among highly recognizable references like the 5196 and the 5227, we find the somewhat more ornate Patek Philippe Calatrava 5153. Like much of the Calatrava line up, the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5153 has that perfect “grandpa charm,” a term I use to encapsulate the sort of watch that your granddad wore daily and, while he would age and pass it on to his son and so forth, the watch never seemed outdated or old fashioned. The Patek Philippe Calatrava 5153 uses a 38mm officer-style case with straight lugs terminating in rolled ends. This case can be had in white gold with either a black or silver opaline dial, or in yellow or rose gold with the silver opaline dial. The dial features a center portion that is treated to a hand guilloche finishing surrounded by matching gold markers. The time display is simple and legible with dauphine hands, a center sweep seconds hand and a date display at three. The overall effect is quite dressy, so perhaps this is the Calatrava for the man that favors a peak lapel.
The Patek Philippe Calatrava 5153 uses Patek Philippe’s 324 S C movement, an automatically wound movement ticking at 4Hz. Employing 29 jewels, a Gyromax balance, and a Spiromax balance spring, the 324 S C has a power reserve of 45 hours. Patek Philippe is world-renowned for their movements, and while the 324 may only offer time and date, it is a beautifully finished movement that can be viewed via the display case back, as long as you open the hinged dust cover.
Sometimes called a “hunter case,” Patek has used a dust cover on a number of their watches, including the Calatrava 5227, the 5159 Perpetual Calendar, the Complication 5054, and the 5160 Perpetual Retrograde Calendar. The dust cover seems almost poetic for a modern Calatrava, allowing the watch to retain a case back similar to those of its ancestors, while still providing a view of the lovely movement within (a somewhat more modern evolution in terms of case backs).
On wrist, the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5153 is gorgeous, comfortable, and dressy. The charm is distinctly old-world, but the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5153 does not feel outdated. The case is nicely sized and feels quite robust, and the legibility is very good. In any of the versions, from the white and yellow gold models shown here to the new-for-2105 rose gold, I could see the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5153 making for a very suitable everyday watch if your situation calls for a dress code closer to business formal. Given the brand, level of detail, precious metal, and in-house movement, the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5153 is predictably spendy, with a list price between $32,300 (yellow gold) and $34,600 (rose or white gold) – further evidence that you’re either in the market for a Patek Philippe, or you’re not. patek.com