While Patek Philippe produces a slew of iconic watches such as the Nautilus, Perpetual Calendar, and Annual Calendar, it is the Patek Philippe Calatrava that best embodies the essence of the brand. Understated, elegant, mechanically marvelous, and historically significant, owners of a Patek Philippe Calatrava watch declare their love (but not too loudly) and appreciation of fine Swiss watchmaking when wearing a timepiece like this.
Introduced in 1932, the Calatrava has been a mainstay of Patek for over 85 years. The inaugural model was the Calatrava ref. 96, donning a slim 31mm case and running on a manual-wound movement. While the brand has offered plenty of variations throughout the years, Patek has managed to stay true to the simple Bauhaus-inspired style of the famous dress watch. From vintage to modern, let’s explore five different versions of the Patek Philippe Calatrava watch.
Yellow Gold Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 3520
The Calatrava ref. 3520 is an important reference in the history of the collection as it was the model that introduced the now-famous “Clou de Paris” or hobnail style bezel. This particular example of the vintage Calatrava ref. 3520 circa 1974 includes a refined yellow gold 32mm round case topped with that intricate bezel. Emphasizing the vintage appeal of the watch is the spectacular yellow gold mesh “Milanese” bracelet.
In true Calatrava fashion, the white dial is simple, with a pair of slim black center hands pointing to black Roman numerals. Powering this time-only Patek dress watch is the manually-wound Cal. 177.
White Gold Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 3919
In 1985, Patek Philippe presented a new version of the ref. 3520 with the Calatrava ref. 3919. Keeping the signature hobnail style bezel, the Calatrava ref. 3919 included a slightly larger 33.5mm case. Furthermore, seconds subdial joined the dial just above 6 o’clock. This example of the model is the white gold Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 3919G, which is the most understated thanks to its metal color. The black leather strap is a great contrast to the white metal and white dial, and matches the black Roman numerals on the face of the watch.
In addition to the exterior updates, the Calatrava ref. 3919 also received a new mechanical movement–the manually-wound Cal. 215 PS, measuring only 2.55mm thick operating at 28,800 beats per hour.
Yellow Gold Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 5196
Patek Philippe debuted the Calatrava ref. 5196 in 2004 as the modern interpretation of the original Calatrava ref. 96 from the 1930s. While the overall look of the Calatrava ref. 5196 is very similar to the inaugural model, Patek did make the case larger at 37mm to suit contemporary tastes.
This Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 5196J includes a yellow gold case, white dial, faceted yellow gold indexes, and the familiar yellow gold Dauphine-style hands. There’s also the characteristic running seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. Beneath the gold caseback sits the famous manually-wound Cal. 215 PS. With a classic black leather strap, this is the quintessential Patek dress watch that takes what is so appealing about a vintage Calatrava and makes it relevant for today.
Ladies’ Yellow Gold Patek Phillipe Calatrava ref. 4819
Not just for the gents, Patek Philippe also offers Calatrava watches for women. Take for example the ladies’ yellow gold Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 4819 from 1989. It includes the famed hobnail bezel on a 25mm yellow gold case along with a white dial with the traditional black Roman numerals and Dauphine-style center hands.
Presented on a graceful black leather strap and powered by a quartz movement, this is an elegant ladies’ vintage Patek Philippe Calatrava watch that can be enjoyed every day.
Rose Gold Patek Phillipe Calatrava ref. 5123
The most modern of our roundup of Calatrava watches, Patek unveiled the ref. 5123 in 2012. The rose gold Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 5123R comes with a larger 38mm round case and slim tapered lugs. It also features a handsome silvery opaline dial with faceted rose gold sword-style hands and rose gold applied hour markers. There’s also a seconds indicator at 6 o’clock, but rather than a full sub-dial, it’s displayed with a simple cross.
Unlike the previous Calatrava models we highlighted, the ref. 5123R has a clear sapphire caseback for an expansive view of the intricately decorated hand-wound Cal. 215 PS mechanical movement. To match the pink gold of the case, the Calatrava ref. 5123R is presented on a brown leather strap.
With so many options to choose from, it may be quite a challenge to pick just one Patek Philippe Calatrava watch. However, regardless of which you decide on, they are all extraordinary luxury watches that have come to define the excellence that we expect from Patek Philippe.