Ten Essential Luxury Watches

Ten Essential Luxury Watches

by Michael Weare

Ten Essential Luxury Watches – Watch Number 9
Patek Philippe Calatrava

And so we come to Patek Philippe, and no one will argue about your choice should you be lucky enough to wear any kind of genuine Patek watch upon your wrist. Founded in 1839, Patek has been around significantly less time than Vacheron Constantin, who can trace its origins back as far as 1755, but they certainly made up for lost time.

Patek Philippe is generally considered to be the finest watch manufacture in the world, and more than any other brand, they manage to hold their value, especially with some of the rarer references. Patek Philippe themselves take the view that you never really own one of their watches, you merely take care of it for the next generation, an allusion to the in-built quality and longevity of their timepieces.

One of their most popular collections is the Calatrava. First launched in 1932, the range is one of subtle elegance, intertwined with the finest classic lines which make possible the showcasing of timepieces that speak directly to a man’s heart and are impervious to the passing trends of watch fashion. The collection is named after the knights of Calatrava who made up the military wing of the monks of Citeaux, a French Cistercian order.

Vintage Patek Calatrava Ref. 96 (1953)

Vintage Patek Calatrava Ref. 96 (1953)

This is currently the watch to be seen wearing among the wealthy elite in China, and let’s not forget, China will eclipse the States as the world’s wealthiest nation within this year, so we can expect many more Patek’s to be Shanghai bound. Don’t expect anything flashy or showy about a Calatrava, it is sober, reserved, discreet, yet utterly confident in its presentation. The proportions are modest, just 38mm, and the look is distinct, slim and elegant.

There are many Calatrava’s, but do not expect multiple complications on this range, you might get a small seconds or perhaps a date, but not both. The overall look is pure, simple and unassuming. It actually blends perfectly with the Asian philosophy not to show off but to quietly achieve excellence.

There is a platinum version for those who want something different, but for the most part the metal of choice is 18k rose gold. The movement can be either manual or automatic, with a 44 hour power reserve.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5196J-001 (Yellow Gold)

Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5196J-001 (Yellow Gold)

So if a Patek Philippe Calatrava is so simple and pure, why is it so exalted? Within its elegant casing is a neat summary of what traditional Swiss watchmaking is all about.

Essentially every component, every millimeter of its being is made to the most exacting standards possible. The quality of a watch is defined by the materials used, the craftsmanship employed in its making, and the movement used in the watch. Patek Philippe uses only the best of these when making each and every timepiece. Patek watchmakers, jewellers, enamellers, goldsmiths and other artisans work exclusively for the company, and their workmanship is personally inspected by the CEO.

Although the Calatrava is the purest and simplest form of the brand’s products, each watch is so scrupulously manufactured that it takes a minimum of 9 months to produce. Patek also happen to make the finest complications in the world. For example, Patek Philippe Calibre 89, introduced in 1989, is the most complicated movement ever made.

The Calibre 89 boasts a total of 33 complications, a celestial chart which graphically and accurately depicts the night sky, a split-second chronograph for the measurement of elapsed time in split seconds, and a Grand Sonnerie, four gongs that chime the time in hours, quarter hours and half hours.

When you wear a Patek Philippe watch you can be sure in the knowledge you are wearing a watch of outstanding quality and pedigree, and for this reason, it is essential to have one in your luxury watch collection. In fact it is even better to have two.

Prices for the Calatrava start at $20,000 + but always buy from authorised dealers.

Ten Essential Luxury Watches – Synopsis:

1. The Rolex Day-Date President
2. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore “Bumblebee”
3. TAG Heuer Monaco
4. Omega Seamaster 300 M Co-Axial 41MM
5. Cartier Tank
6. Breitling Chronomat 44 Flying Fish
7. Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days – 47mm PAM 00514
8. IWC Da Vinci Automatic
9. Patek Philippe Calatrava
10. Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711

    Author Bio

    Articles by Michael Weare


    Michael Weare hails from an international advertising agency background where he handled several well known and highly desirable watch brands; handled, but sadly never got to keep. However it's this exposure that gave him a lasting fascination for watches. Michael was Editor of Click Tempus for over 2.5 years and is now in the same role at Watchuseek, the web's largest watch forum.