March 19, 2019
by Rob Nudds
With the release of the new Patek Philippe ref. 5520P-001 Alarm Travel Time watch, one of the industry’s shining lights has taken an unusually bold aesthetic step. In September last year, we reviewed the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524R watch, which features twin pushers on the left-hand side of the case. Those pushers were striking, but the single crown in the traditional 3 o’clock position means that the visual weight of the case lessens from left to right. This is a visual trick sometimes employed in watchmaking in an attempt to get the watch to follow the natural slimming of the arm from forearm to hand. The quad crown/pusher setup of the 5520P-001 may well be symmetrical but it increases the presence of this watch enormously because it doesn’t attempt to pander to the organic. It looks like a Patek Philippe from the future, and thanks to the functionality packed into the 42.2mm platinum case, it is likely to stand up to horological scrutiny for centuries to come.
Brand: Patek Philippe
Model: Ref. 5520P-001 Alarm Travel Time
Dimensions: 42.2mm-wide by 11.6mm-tall
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Case Material: Platinum
Crystal/Lens: Sapphire crystal
Movement: Caliber AL 30-660 S C FUS
Power Reserve: 42 hours min-52 hours max (depending on alarm usage)
Strap/Bracelet: Platinum pin & tang buckle, leather strap
Price & Availability: €204,050
The ebony black sunburst dial displays a lot of information. The time is told by large, laddered hour and minute hands that point to gold applied Arabic numerals generously filled with luminescent material.
Perhaps the main event of this watch is the alarm function: you can see what time the alarm is set for between the center of the dial and 12 o’clock. If the alarm is on, the bell above the alarm window turns white. When the alarm is deactivated, the bell seems to disappear into the black dial. The time the alarm is set to is in 24-hr format, and beneath the alarm readout there is a day/night indicator that flips between white and blue.
Similarly, the “Travel Time” 24-hour alarm function enables day/night information, as well as the time, itself, to be displayed simultaneously for two time zones. The time zones are labelled “local” and “home” and sit above circular apertures identical to the alarm day/night indicator. The alarm is adjusted using the +/- pushers on the left-hand side of the case, while the pusher at 2 o’clock is used to switch it on and off.
In addition to the twin time zones, read via the solid and skeletonized hour hands, the date for the local time is displayed via a pointer. A sub-dial at 6 o’clock shows the seconds by way of a sweeping hand.
The Patek Philippe ref. 5520P-001 Alarm Travel Time is powered by the Caliber AL 30-660 S C FUS, an entirely new integrated movement for which Patek Philippe has registered four patents. It is a complex movement with 574 parts, 52 jewels, a centrally mounted unidirectional winding oscillating weight made from 21k gold, an operating speed of 28,800vph, and a power reserve that fluctuates between 42 and 52 hours, depending on alarm usage.
I spent my formative years as a watchmaker designing perfectly symmetrical cases. The crown always posed a problem to my younger mind; it seemed to imbalance the whole case. It wasn’t until many years later and a total revision of my tastes that I learned to love utility, form following function. The Patek Philippe Travel Time 5520-001 manages to do what I never could by completely letting go of conventions. It is so unabashedly symmetrical and so wonderfully complex that I can’t help but stare at the dial in wonder. It will be fascinating to see this piece on the wrist. Only then will it be possible to tell if the symmetrical silhouette is a hit or whether it jars against a human backdrop. If you’d like to see one of these on your wrist, it will cost you €204,050 for the pleasure. Find out more at patek.com