Patek Philippe Reference 5524 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time
When you think of the Patek Philippe Calatrava collection, you’re likely imagining elegant and slim classic dress watches with understated dials. While that is true to some extent, that is not the full story of the Calatrava. The round Calatrava case is also often paired with complications. Take the Patek Philippe Reference 5524 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, the company’s approach to an aviation watch, which debuted in 2015 and remains in the current catalog. The Calatrava Pilot Travel Time was a controversial release with many onlookers complaining that it just didn’t seem to fit Patek’s aesthetic. However, fast-forward to today, Reference 5524 has gained appreciation and respect within certain collecting circles. Let’s delve into the details of Patek’s pilot watch and outline its origins, design, complications, and variations.
White Gold Patek Philippe Reference 5524G Calatrava Pilot Travel Time
The first Calatrava Pilot Travel Time model was the white gold Reference 5524G, which Patek Philippe unveiled at Baselworld 2015. While it was significantly different from the brand’s other pieces at the time, unbeknownst to some, Patek does have a history of making pilot watches. Specifically, there are two military aviation references from the 1930s on display at the Patek Philippe Museum.
Patek Philippe Pilot Watch, Museum Geneva, Ref. P0844 (1936)
It was this pair of vintage “hour-angle” watches (conceived to permit faster navigation and precise positioning while flying) that influenced some of the design of the modern Reference 5524. That said, it’s important to note that the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time is not an hour-angle watch – it’s a dual-time watch.
The Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524G sports a 42mm case (10.78mm thick) crafted in 18k white gold and water resistant to 60 meters. On the left of the case are two oversized pushers to adjust local time whereas the right side is home to the traditional winding crown. Make no mistake, this is a large watch, especially with the pushers and crown protruding prominently from the case. The pushers include a patented safety lock to prevent accidental local time adjustment.
Instead of going with traditional black, Patek opted for a blue lacquered brass dial, which is punctuated with large applied white gold Arabic numerals and broad baton-style blued-steel hands, all coated with Super-Luminova for optimal legibility in the dark.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Reference 5524G-001
Local time is displayed via the traditional hour hand, and the date indicator (the subdial positioned at 6 o’clock) is linked to local time. Conversely, home time (a.k.a. Reference time) is indicated by a more discreet skeletonized hour hand, which is then tucked away under the other hour hand when home and local time are the same (such as when you’re back at your city of residence). What’s more, there are two small round apertures on the dial that indicate day/night for both local and home time. Pressing the upper pusher advances the local hour hand by one hour while pressing the lower one brings it back one hour, which makes this ultra-practical when flying to another time zone. Patek calls this way of tracking two time zones its Travel Time mechanism, and it's available on several models – yet it is particularly apt on the Calatrava Pilot.
The white gold Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 5524G is paired with a vintage brown calf leather strap with contrasting stitching meant to mimic leather aviation belts. The strap is fitted with a white gold clevis prong buckle, and the design of the buckle draws inspiration from the harnesses worn by pilots and is exclusive to Patek pilot watches.
Rose Gold Patek Philippe Reference 5524R Calatrava Pilot Travel Time
In 2018, Patek expanded the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time lineup with the 18k rose gold Reference 5524R. While all the dimensions and mechanics remain the same as the white gold version, the rose gold Calatrava Pilot Travel Time includes a brown sunburst, and black gradated dial – which is to say it gets darker further away from the center.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Reference 5524R-001
Of course, this being a rose gold model, the applied Arabic numerals and handset are also fashioned from rose gold. Like the 5524G, the 5524R benefits from Super-Luminova on the dial for visibility in the dark.
Patek fitted the 5524R with the same vintage brown calf leather strap with contrasting stitching but furnished it with a rose gold buckle to match the case.
The Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Calibers
When the Reference 5524 was first announced, it was fitted with the self-winding Caliber 324 S C FUS movement. However, at Baselworld 2019, Patek Philippe quietly released the updated Caliber 26-330, which is an evolution of the long-running Caliber 324.
Patek Philippe Self-Winding Caliber 324 S C FUS Movement
Therefore, older variants of the 5524 will have a Caliber 324 S C FUS movement inside while newer models will have Caliber 26-330 S C FUS. Note the S stands for "center sweep second hand", the C for “simple calendar” (i.e. date indicator), and FUS for “time zone.”
Both movements measure 31mm in diameter, operate at 28,800vph (4Hz), and supply the watch with 35 to 45 hours of power reserve. Whereas the older Caliber 324 S C FUS had 294 components the newer Caliber 26-330 S C FUS includes 290 parts. What’s more, the new-gen Caliber 26-330 includes hacking seconds and a redesigned rotor.
Patek Philippe Self-Winding Caliber 26-330 S C FUS Movement
Like most modern Patek watches, Calatrava Pilot Travel Time watches feature exhibition casebacks for a view of the movements powering the watches. There are chamfered bridges with Geneva striping (also known as Côtes de Genève), as well as the 21k gold rotor with circular graining, perlage, and the famed Calatrava cross.
Other Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Watches
In 2018, Patek Philippe also added a midsize version of the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time in the form of the Reference 7234R. The rose gold Calatrava Pilot Travel Time 7234R measures 37.5mm and includes the same brown-to-black gradient dial of the larger 5524R.
In 2019, Patek Philippe unveiled the 7234A – the first Calatrava Pilot Travel Time in steel – as a limited edition piece (400 examples only) in honor of the Patek Philippe Grand Exhibition in Singapore. This version included a blue-gray dial and a matching blue Cordova strap.
Patek Philippe Pilot Travel Time Ref. 7234
Finally, in 2020, Patek Philippe added the midsize 7234G in white gold to the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time lineup, complete with a navy blue dial and two straps – a navy blue calfskin and a vintage brown calfskin.
Whether the larger 5524 or the smaller 7234, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time remains as one of Patek Philippe’s most distinctly designed modern watches.