This US-exclusive Calatrava Pilots stems from the most controversial Patek of modern times, but does it stand on its own?
by James Buttery
If you happen to find yourself in New York this weekend there’s still time to catch Patek Philippe’s Watch Art Grand Exhibition, which has previously visited Germany and Dubai and was last seen at London’s Saatchi Gallery in 2014.
With each stop the exhibition is tailored to the local market and, for New York, Patek has not only created 17 metiers d’art clocks, pocket watches and wristwatches decorated with romantic American landscapes, it also launched a collection of nine watches exclusively for the US retail market.
On top of diamond-set minute repeaters and worldtimers with enamel dials depicting the Manhattan skyline there was one watch which caught everyone’s eye.
The Ref 5522A, or Calatrava Pilot, is clearly related to Patek’s extraordinarily controversial 5524G Pilot’s Calatrava Travel Time of 2015. At the time Patek showed off a few images of watches it produced in the early part of the 20th Century that allegedly resembled this future curio. Whatever your thoughts on the 5524G – and few were kind – Patek president Thierry Stern almost certainly had the last laugh, an unusual Patek is a fair bet in terms of return on investment, if you can get your hands on one in the first place.
The 5522A dispenses with the complications of its recent ancestor, using the central seconds 324 S automatic calibre, which can be viewed through a sapphire crystal caseback engraved with Patek Philippe New York 2017.
That simplicity is reflected in the price too, white gold has made way for a 42mm steel case. A limited edition run of 600 pieces costing $21,546 (£16,600) is exclusive to Patek’s 89 US retailers and with a sub-steel Nautilus price they are sure to sell quickly.
But it hasn’t been without its critics either. Some of the first images of the 5522A, such as the one below (which is almost certainly an unflattering render) don’t do a great job of conveying the dial. It appears pancake flat and the colours of both the lume and hands are far too punchy. In truth the grained dial is flat but offset by the generous relief of the white gold applique numerals and the blued steel hands are a more restrained shade.
There’s still no explanation as to why these pilots watches are part of the Calatrava family or why you’d release a 42mm pilots watch, which are historically much larger to make for more legible dials.
Put into that kind of context, the 5522A makes very little sense but sever the links that have spawned this simple, time-only piece and it’s a perfectly likeable watch.