While overshadowed nowadays by the Gerald Genta-designed Nautilus, the sports watch legacy of Patek Philippe really begins with pilot watches. The marque produced a line of complex hour angle timepieces for aviators back in the 1930s and subsequently revived its pilot legacy in 2015 with the Patek Philippe Ref. 5524G Calatrava Pilot Travel Time. Over the past five years, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time series has become a staple for the brand, with extensions of the series into new styles and complications. One of the greatest barriers for potential wearers in this series, however, has been case size. With the Ref. 5524G measuring in at 42mm with a typically large pilot watch presence on the wrist, buyers looking for a more compact option were left with the midsize interpretation Ref. 7234 available only in rose gold. As part of its 2020 novelties, Patek Philippe has returned to the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time to expand these options, creating a midsize variant in white gold for the first time. The resulting Patek Philippe Ref. 7234G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time combines the brand’s idiosyncratic take on classic aviation cues with a clean, bright new colorway.
The 18k white gold case of the Patek Philippe Ref. 7234G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time is undoubtedly the largest addition to this new model, translating the shape of its larger stablemates to fit more compact and lightweight dimensions. Measuring in at 37.5mm in diameter, this case should still keep a respectable presence on the wrist thanks to wide set lugs and a typical narrow pilot watch bezel. The overall package is slim as well, with a 10.8mm thickness from the top of the crystal to the sapphire display back. The overall form should be familiar to Patek Philippe enthusiasts, carrying over the distinctive layout of previous Calatrava Pilot Travel Time models with its large pillbox crown and signature wide pushers at 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock. Despite the sporty pilot design, the depth rating remains low at 60 meters of water resistance. That said this is an aviation watch at heart, and if a pilot finds themselves 60 meters underwater inside their aircraft, chances are the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time’s water resistance is the least of their current problems.
Like the case, the dial of the Patek Philippe Ref. 7234G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time keeps the line’s overall aesthetic intact while adding a white gold flourish. The matte main dial surface is lacquered in midnight blue for a subtle touch of color, while the cathedral minutes and local hours hands are finished in blued white gold. The skeleton hand for the home time hours is rendered in white gold as well, with a white lacquer finish for contrast. This white gold treatment also extends to the blocky, early 20th-century style applied Arabic numerals, giving this simple pilot design a touch of flash. The dial also adds a subtle pop of contrasting color through the 6 o’clock pointer date subdial, where the first of the month is printed in vibrant orange. This orange accent may prove to be divisive, either disrupting the otherwise subdued dial design or adding a lively hint of brightness.
As with previous iterations, Patek Philippe powers the Ref. 7234G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time with the manufacture CH 324 S C FUS automatic movement. The CH 324 S C FUS offers a fair amount of complication, including the pointer date display, dual time zones, and independent day/night indicators for both home and local time zones. Given that this is a Patek Philippe movement, finishing is also ornate, with a blend of mirror polished bevels, Côtes de Genève and perlage capped by a 21k yellow gold engraved rotor. Interestingly, Patek Philippe’s claims for the performance of this movement vary significantly, with power reserve rated at between 35 and 45 hours with a 28,800 bph beat rate.
To complete the package, Patek Philippe delivers the Ref. 7234G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time with a pair of leather straps. The first is a gloss navy blue calfskin strap with white contrast stitching, which looks in initial images to bring out the subtler blue tones of the dial. For a more contrasting look, a distressed brown calfskin strap is also included. Both straps are finished with 18k white gold clevis prong buckles, designed to reflect the harnesses used in vintage flight gear.
While sticking close to the line’s established aesthetic, the Patek Philippe Ref. 7234G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time gives enthusiasts a stealthier, more traditional option in a more manageable 37.5mm size. The Patek Philippe Ref. 7234G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time is available now through authorized dealers, with an MSRP of $48,495. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.