James Gurney On The Genius Of The New Patek Philippe

The genius of Patek Philippe's new Calatrava hinges on one tiny detail 

While much of the media coverage surrounding Patek Philippe is currently focused on the Sky Moon tourbillon (one of the company’s more complicated watches, available to those with oceanically deep pockets), the new, rather unexcitingly titled Ref 5227 is also worthy of note.

Though at first glance simply another Patek Philippe Calatrava, there’s more to this watch than meets the eye. Calatrava has been a staple in Patek’s catalogue for 80 years and is the foundation on which the company’s rise to supremacy has been built.

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The name is applied as a catch-all to the house’s most classic timepieces, a category that still allows for a wide variety of different combinations of finishes and decorations. The only definition that works is: round case, shaped lugs, straightforward dial, high-quality simple movement. So what’s to celebrate about the 5227?

Inside there is Patek’s new silicon-based Spiromax mechanics and there are nice details on the dial, such as the trapezoidal hour markers and the hands, while on the side of the case the fluted lugs are a pleasing touch, but closer inspection reveals that this watch has an almost invisible “officer’s” case cover, which opens to show an internal sapphire crystal caseback.

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On the surface this sounds like small news except that the hinge and case cover are so incredibly slim that it takes a moment to believe the tell-tale flap is what it seems to be; this is a watch you need to see and touch in the metal to appreciate how finely it is made.

It is also a feature that almost no other company would bother with, Cad and 3D modelling being of little real help at all in refining the mechanism to the level Patek have achieved.

And it’s a feat they have accomplished through the simple application of time, the one commodity that their competitors find truly difficult to match– who else would put two years development work into a what is really a decorative hinge? Remarkable.

Calatrava Ref 5227J, £23,790 by Patek Philipppe.