September 8, 2018
by Kenny Yeo
When the first Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524G was announced at Baselworld in 2015, to say that the watch world was shocked would be an understatement. Clearly, it was unlike anything else that Patek Philippe made and even after learning that Patek did indeed make pilots watches for the military way back in the ’30s, I still can’t wrap my head around the 5524G. Now, three years on, Patek has introduced a new version in rose gold and with a brown dial. This is the new Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524R.
If you missed out on the backstory of the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time watch, let me fill you in very quickly. The inspiration came from old Patek ‘hour-angle’ watches that could be used for navigation when used with a sextant and radio signal. They are quirky-looking watches that, much like the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, look unlike anything else that Patek makes. The Calatrava Pilot Travel Time is not an exact reissue or homage to those watches, but it is clear that with its big blue hands and large Arabic hour markers, it was heavily inspired by them.
The new Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524R is identical to the earlier 5524G with the exception of the case material and the color of the dial. It comes in a 42mm case that is extremely sporty-looking and wears quite a bit larger than the specs would suggest largely because of the sizable crown and large pushers for adjusting the travel time complication at 8 and 10 o’clock. It is worth noting that the large pushers might dig into your wrist depending on how you wear the watch. Other than that, overall wearing comfort is quite good.
The brown sunburst dial is a good match for the rose gold case. It creates a warm glow that makes the Ref. 5524R more alluring when compared to the earlier 5524G. The 5524G now seems a little cold and clinical by comparison. Legibility is top notch too. The large Arabic hour numerals are filled with white Super-LumiNova and have gold edges, which complement the brown dial and rose gold case nicely.
Patek’s Travel Time watches are some of the best dual time zone watches around because of their ease of use and legibility. The pushers at 8 and 10 o’clock let owners quickly advance the hour hand in hourly increments as they move across time zones. This also changes the date. There’s a second stenciled hour hand that remains fixed to show home time. To the left and right are two smaller apertures that show whether it’s day or night in the respective time zones. And, when you are back home you can adjust the main hour hand so that it covers the stenciled hour hand and it would look like a regular three-hand watch. I like this feature a lot.
The movement within is the 324 S C FUS, which is also used in Patek’s other Travel Time pieces like the Aquanaut Travel Time. It is a self-winding movement with 294 parts, a Gyromax balance, and a Spiromax balance spring. It also has a large central rotor made out of 21k gold. It has a minimum power reserve of 35 hours and beats at 4Hz. It is nicely decorated and is visible through the sapphire display caseback. Now, the 324 S C FUS isn’t a particularly large movement, measuring just 31mm across. As a result, the 42mm case of the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time is a bit large for the movement and you can see there is quite a large amount of ‘case’ that surrounds the movement when you turn it around.
Patek also released a smaller, presumably ladies’ version of the same watch this year called the Ref. 7234R. It uses the same movement but comes in a more petite 37.5mm case. Turning that watch around, you can see that the movement fills the case more appropriate and there isn’t as much empty space in the caseback.
Despite the initial shock of the watch, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time has become one of the brand’s most popular pieces and I’m told that it is incredibly hard to secure one. After handling one in the flesh, it is easy to see why. Though it may not look like your archetypal Patek, it is extremely well-made, functional, and attractive in its own way. For Patek collectors who always wished that the brand had something more loud and showy, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time is the answer and I think this new version in rose gold and with a brown dial is even more – for lack of a better word – blingy. The Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524R is priced at 42,000 CHF. patek.com