In the early morning on press day – before the show opens to the public- we were already hearing the buzz about what will certainly be one of the most important new watches of the year – the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524. Find live images, the availability date and the price below.

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In the vernacular of the internet, the want is strong with this one. This watch induces a deep and instant lust – handle it at your own risk. As our group passed it around the table, each editor reluctant to let it go, you could hear the wheels of personal finance turning.

This piece brings together two areas in which Patek Philippe’s history and expertise excel – aviation watches and timepieces created for travelers. This style and this complication are natural companions.

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Early aviators relied on timekeeping instruments for navigation. Together, Philip van Horn Weems and Charles Lindbergh devised a now-famous timepiece. Two particularly noteworthy exemplars of such hour-angle – or siderometer – wristwatches were developed by Patek Philippe and are now on display at the Patek Philippe Museum.

In the 1930s, together with gifted watchmaker Louis Cottier, the manufacture developed its first “Heure Universelle” (World Time) wristwatches. The first patent for the Travel Time mechanism was granted to Patek Philippe in 1959. The construction made the watch extremely simple to operate and simultaneously displayed the time in two different time zones. Patek refined the two-time-zone mechanism, and it was awarded a further patent in 1996.

Rather than fashion an hour-angle homage, Patek has created a precise and dependable timekeeping instrument with a strong, masculine look and a time-zone function that is especially useful in air travel.

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When the local-time hour hand is moved forward or backward in one-hour increments with the two pushers in the case, an isolator uncouples the time-zone mechanism from the going train. This prevents the degradation of the amplitude of the balance and allows it to continue oscillating at a regular rate. The advantage: the watch continues to run with the accustomed accuracy.

In the new Ref. 5524 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, this advanced mechanism is part of the self-winding caliber 324 S C FUS manufacture movement with a sweep seconds hand, an analog date, and a heavy central rotor in 21K gold.

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Of course, the movement is superbly finished. The Spiromax® spring that breathes in the Gyromax® balance is made of Silinvar®, a derivative of silicon. The special properties of this material, combined with the geometry patented by Patek Philippe, assure high dependability as well as the rate accuracy tolerance of -3/+2 seconds per day as specified by the Patek Philippe Seal. The sapphire-crystal display back reveals the chamfered bridges with Geneva striping, the circular-grained gold rotor with perlage in the center, snailed flanks, and a Calatrava cross. It features magnificent contrasts with bright shimmering metal, gold-filled engravings, and sparkling red bearing jewels.

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The 294-part movement ticks beneath a unique and subtly spectacular dial. Rather than the traditional black, the dial is dark navy blue lacquer that resembles the body paint of American fighter planes in the 1930s. Thanks to large applied Arabic numerals in white gold and broad baton-style steel hands with Superluminova coatings, the local time is easily and clearly legible, both during the day and at night. In the typical Travel Time style, the home-time hour hand is skeletonized and remains discreetly in the background. It is hidden beneath the prominent local-time hour hand as long as local and home time are identical.

A separate day/night indicator is assigned to both time zones (at 9 o’clock for local time and at 3 o’clock for home time). The analog date at 6 o’clock is totally new: it displays the date in 3-day increments. Because the scale is not cluttered with numerals, it is extremely legible.

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The classic face of the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time is framed by a large-for-Patek 42-millimeter white-gold Calatrava-style case. The bezel is flat and slightly inclined; the caseband merges elegantly with the lugs that secure the strap bars. The crown and the two time-zone pushers at 8 (+1h) and 10 o’clock (-1h) are fluted for a slip-free grip and add a technical look that suits the design of a precise measuring instrument. Additionally, the time-zone pushers are equipped with a patent-pending safety lock that prevents unintended adjustments of the local time setting. Before they can be operated, the pushers must be released with a quarter turn and then locked again with a twist in the opposite direction.

The Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524 will be priced at CHF42,000 when it becomes available at retailers this fall.

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