This post is an edited and expanded version of content first published on 04/07/2020.
The Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time ref 5524G is unlike anything else in the Patek world.
To say the 5524G was an unexpected release back in 2015 would be a gross understatement. For a start, it’s a pilot watch. Yet Patek as a brand has no real connection with aviation watches to speak of. Or has it?
In the 1920s and 1930s, at a time when aviators relied on precision time-keeping instruments to aide them in navigation, many brands were manufacturing pilot and military watches, including Patek Philippe with its Hour Angle.
The Hour Angle pilot watch was first developed by Longines for Charles Lindbergh to enable simpler, faster, and more precise positioning.
These Hour Angle watches made by Patek Philippe are from 1936 and were classified by Patek as scientific instruments. It is noteworthy that they had a 24 h format and a very generous size. At 55.3 mm in diameter, they had a tool-watch size and are the biggest Patek Philippe wrist pieces ever made.
Currently, two examples are on display at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. So, you see, there is at least one precedent connecting Patek with pilot watches.
Finally, in order to complete the examination of these precedents, it is worth mentioning just how rare these Hour Angle models are. By way of example, a prototype sold for an astonishing CHF 1,891,000 at auction in 2009.
Going back to the 5524G, the first thing to point out is that it is available in a white gold case, quite unusual for a pilot watch, and that at 42 mm in diameter it is one of the largest models from the brand, although it is only 10.8 mm thick. There is also a rose gold version with reference 5524R.
The Calatrava case is mirror polished and has curved lugs helping it sit comfortably on the wrist. At three o’clock is a large crown while on the opposite side of the case are two pushers used for adjusting the second time-zone.
As distinctive as the case is though, it pales in comparison to the stunning dark navy-blue dial, with its beautiful lacquer grained finish. Both the applied Arabic numerals in white gold and the blued hands are lume-filled for great visibility in any condition. The dual time hand is skeletonised, mind you. Finally, the ring at 6 o’clock displays the date in 3-day increments and is linked to the day/night indicators for the local and home time.
All in all, it is exceptionally clean, practical, and easy-to-read: perfect for any pilot with a taste for luxury watches.
The piece has a mechanical self-winding movement, the in-house caliber 324 S C FUS, incorporating a dual time zone mechanism indicating local and home time. Local and home day/night indications are shown in apertures slightly below the 9 and 3 o’clock positions, respectively. Local date is shown by a hand at the 6 o’clock position.
In summary, the caliber displays date, hour, minutes, second time zone and sweep seconds.
The watch was launched in 2015 at a retail price of £37,940/$47,300, and it remains in the catalogue under the “Complications” product range.
Like all Pateks, it has held its value remarkably, as can be seen through a quick search on Chrono24.
There is no two ways about it, for any Patek collector it’s a hate it or love it thing. While initially a lot of people hated this Patek watch, many have come around to its unexpected charm: after all it not only looks great but it also features possibly the most practical and easy to use complication for pilots and travellers alike.