Patek Philippe, long a staple of the dearly departed Baselworld watch fair, made its inaugural appearance at Geneva’s Watches & Wonders fair this past week, and after famously retiring its megapopular Nautilus sport-luxury timepiece last year with a series of high-profile models, the prestigious Swiss watchmaker has refocused its attention on its core Calatrava collection this year. And as we can see in the undisputed headliner model, the new Annual Calendar Travel Time Ref. 5326G-001, Patek is also continuing its historical dedication to combining multiple horological complications in a single timepiece.
The Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time, as its very descriptive name would imply, is the first Patek Philippe watch to combine two of the brand’s signature (and patented) complications, the Annual Calendar that it first launched in 1996, and the hallmark Travel Time mechanism that it unveiled one year later, in 1997. The former, for those unfamiliar, is a full calendar that accurately displays the day, date, and month for every month of 30 or 31 days and requires manual correction only once per year, from the last day of February to March 1. The latter uses a second centralized hour hand to indicate a second time zone on the dial and can be adjusted in either direction in one-hour increments, a rarity in the field of GMT and world-time watches. Combining both these very complex micromechanical marvels into a single movement, as one might expect, was a challenge, with the largest technical hurdle being the ability of the calendar’s date to synchronize with the local time rather than the home time.
Patek has met the challenges with this watch’s all-new manufacture movement, Caliber 31-260 PS QA LU FUS 24H (an alphanumeric mouthful, to be sure), which resides within an entirely new Calatrava case, with Patek’s recognizable hobnail guiilloché pattern adorning its flanks, and ticks behind a new charcoal gray dial with a subtle granular texture inspired by the cases of vintage photo cameras.
The movement retains many of the pluses of its most recent calendar-equipped predecessors, including the optimized barrel torque, high frequency of 28,800 vph (4 Hz), a platinum micro-rotor for increased winding power, and an energy-saving reduction wheel that uncouples automatic winding when the movement is manually wound. In order to achieve the main technical goal — a date that always corresponds with the local time — Patek’s engineers designed the movement in a manner that the Travel Time mechanism controls the annual calendar and the local-time hour wheel drives the date function. (It’s the same principle applied to an earlier complicated watch, 2017’s Ref. 5531 World Time Minute Repeater, which always chimes the local time on demand because the world-time device controls the repeater.) Another innovative modification is the annual calendar’s accelerated display jump, which reduces the usual 90-minute rollover time for the midnight date change to about 18 minutes, which allows users to see the correct date for a longer time and helps prevent accidental misalignment if one is adjusting the time zone within this span. In all, eight patent applications have been filed for the caliber, all of them for innovative refinements in the service of reducing wear and energy consumption.
The newly redesigned white-gold case measures 41mm in diameter and 11.07mm thick and features a slightly chamfered bezel and polished, inclined lugs. Most clearly distinguishing this case from its predecessors in the venerable Calatrava family — a mainstay of Patek Philippe’s portfolio since its inception in 1932 — is the hobnail guilloché motif that embellishes the entire circumference of the case middle. The decorative pyramid-like pattern made its debut on the first Calatrava “Clous de Paris” model (Ref.3919) in 1985 and was famously revived by Patek for the Ref. 6119 in 2021; on the Annual Calendar Travel Time, the motif covers the complete flank of the case uninterrupted by the lugs, which have been ingeniously attached to the back side. Calling attention to another upgrade from previous versions of the Travel Time is the lack of pushers on the left-side case flank. In past models, these pushers were used to move the local time hour hand in one-hour jumps in either direction; to streamline the shape of the new Calatrava case, Patek replaced this system with a three-position winding-stem mechanism that allows the user to simply pull the crown to its second position and turn it clockwise or counterclockwise to change the local hour.
The dial, with its subtly gradient surface and camera-case-inspired granular texture effect, comes from Patek’s own dial factory in Saint-Imier, Switzerland.Its applied Arabic numerals are made of white gold and coated with beige-tinted Super-LumiNova, and its similarly luminous-treated white-gold hands are in the classical syringe style found on other complicated Patek Philippe watches. The solid hour hand is used to indicate the local time while the openworked hand is for the home time; when the wearer isn’t traveling, these hands are superimposed and appear as a single hand. Patek Philippe’s emblematic annual calendar dial arrangement has also been retained from previous models: day of the week and month in twin apertures at 12 o’clock, date in a solo window at 6 o’clock, plus small, round day-night indicators at 8 and 4 o’clock for both the “LOCAL” and “HOME” times, respectively. Rounding out the elegantly balanced layout is a moon-phase aperture at 6 o’clock, traversed by a running seconds hand.
A vintage-style box-type sapphire crystal covers the dial, while another sapphire pane in the back of the case reveals the movement, with its platinum micro-rotor, elegantly cut and curved bridges, base-movement wheels, and host of the manually executed finishes for which Patek Philippe has become renowned, including perlage and côtes de Genève. In addition to its noteworthy fusion of two high complications, the watch also nods toward versatility with its two interchangeable straps — the beige calfskin with nubuck texture on which it’s mounted and the additional black calfskin with embossed textile finish and beige contrast stitching that accompanies it. Both straps fasten to the wrist with a white gold foldover clasp that bears Patek Philippe’s Calatrava cross emblem (just in case you were wondering where the name for the collection was derived). The U.S. retail price of the Patek Philippe Ref. 5326G-001 Annual Calendar Travel Time is $76,882.