Being an inventor and manufacturer of iconic wristwatches comes with great responsibilities. In 1932, 64 years after Patek Philippe invented its first-ever wristwatch, the brand introduced its most classic and remarkable men’s watch to date: the Patek Philippe Calatrava.
Highlighting Swiss-manufactured timepieces with classic designs that never go old using the age-old Swiss watchmaking tradition, The Philippe Patek Calatrava series shows impeccable craftsmanship. Many Calatrava variations and references have been done, and many series have ensued over the years. But the Calatrava has always been and will always remain the signature watch of Philippe Patek.
Calatrava History and Roots
Patek Philippe christened the Calatrava, whose name is taken from its emblem: the Calatrava cross. Patek naming the series after its emblem shows how significant this watch collection is for the long line of luxury timepieces of the brand over the years. The Philippe Patek Calatrava cross, registered as a trademark by the brand on the 27th day of April in 1887, was a thoughtful reference to the Spanish Catholic order of knights in 1158. This symbol reflects those knights who defended the city of Calatrava, Nuova Castiglia, from Arabian invaders. Composed of the Greek cross with fleur-de-lis on its ends, the brand only featured it on the crowns, case backs, and clasps extensively from the 1960s onwards.
Patek Philippe first introduced the Calatrava in 1932, the same year Jean Stern and Charles Heri purchased a stake and then entirely acquired the company within a year. It was also the same year the company launched the preeminent and first-ever Calatrava, the first watch to feature an in-house movement developed from the ground up of Patek Philippe. Notably, this in-house movement pioneered the Bauhaus design language contemporary to the period.
The Calatrava is a 31-millimeter timepiece featuring a LeCoultre’s 12 ligne movement for its first two years. For its remaining production years until 1973, Patek Philippe used a movement developed under Pfister, its propriety 12’’’120. The brand developed ten more new calibers from 1934 to 1939, an unbelievable, monstrous feat and prowess considering the lack of computer-aided manufacturing and design.
The Many Faces of the Calatrava
There have been multiple and various Calatrava variations and models over the years. Several of them are among the most collectible timepieces, such as the vintage Calatrava. Patek Philippe unveiled the Reference 96 back when the reference numbers were only two-digit long. This timepiece model was a monumental move for Patek Philippe as it provided an excellent in-house movement housed in a slim, intricately designed wristwatch.
This specific Patek Calatrava reference is incredibly remarkable as it is the first watch of the brand to feature an in-house movement built from the ground up. Reputedly, this Patek Philippe in-house movement established the Bauhaus design language contemporary to the period.
Staying True to the Original Calatrava
A highly and intricately polished bezel is one of the most identifiable Calatrava features, but they also have certain models with a “Clous de Paris” hobnail bezel. But trends are never constant. It changes as time goes by, which is why some modifications are inevitable. Recent trends show that men prefer wearing larger cases nowadays. And this is one of the changes found in Calatrava watches.
Traditionally, Patek men’s watch cases measure 35mm. But with the growing trend that people now prefer larger cases, watchmaking companies have to adapt. Patek Philippe appears to cap the size of the men’s Calatrava timepieces at 39mm, while some watch brands produce much larger case sizes that range from 42mm to 46mm, remaining true and faithful to the original size. This commitment keeps the classicists happy while also appeasing those that are trying to follow the trend.
Featured in this article is the Patek Calatrava 5227j-001 in 18kt yellow gold. It comes with a lacquered cream-colored dial and a complimenting brown alligator leather strap. What highlights the clean and attractive finish of the timepiece is its polished yellow gold hands, hour markers, and a minute track.
As a part of the Patek Philippe Officer’s Calatrava collection, the 5227j-001 features a protective 18kt yellow gold dust cover for the case back fastened with a hinge. This Calatrava variation also has a polished 18kt solid gold round case, measuring 39mm in diameter and 9.58mm thick. Powered by the 29 jewel Patek Philippe Caliber 324 SC movement, this model has 238 parts and an approximately 45 hours power reserve. Found in numerous Calatravas such as the 5296g-001, 5296r-010, 5296g-010, 5296r-001, to name a few, is the same movement.
The timelessness of Patek Phillipe Calatrava timepieces is a living testament to the slogan of the brand: “You never really own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.”
In a Nutshell
Patek Philippe has long established its name and legacy in the watchmaking industry. With Calatrava as one of its most remarkable inventions, it is undoubtedly a distinguished brand. And as time continues, Calatrava remains the living testament of the greatness of Patek Philippe. If you wish to check more Patek Philippe wristwatches, visit WatchShopping.com and get yourself an iconic, timeless, and classic Patek timepiece.