Patek Philippe’s New Pilot: A Closer Look At The Ref. 7234G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time
Today, Patek Philippe announced a new pilot-style watch in its Calatrava collection. It’s a mid-sized beauty in blue.
It’s been five years (and a few months) since Patek Philippe unveiled its first modern pilot's watch at Baselworld in 2015, the Ref. 5524G Calatrava Travel Time (read HERE). The watch’s bold and robust design, not to mention its 42mm case, was not typical of Patek’s usual refined aesthetic. While the watch’s design is, of course, impeccable, its bold presence on the wrist, with very prominent pushers at 10 and 8 o’clock, was a decided departure from the norm for Patek Philippe.
The pilot watch generated a shock wave that ran through the watch community in attendance at Baselworld. The new watch was the talk of the town. Did Patek Philippe have any history of pilot watches that would “legitimize” and provide a connection to and continuity for the new piece? And debates raged over the watch’s design. Was it too much of a disconnect with the Patek Philippe aesthetic?
The answers to these burning questions quickly came to light.
Aviation of the 1930s
Patek Philippe does indeed have a history with pilot watches, dating all the way back to 1936. The 1930s saw a steep rise in the popularity of commercial air travel. About 475,000 total commercial air passengers flew in 1932, and in just five years, this increased to over 1,000,000 in 1937. The Ford Motor Company's storied Trimotor, or “Tin Goose,” was taking to the skies, conveying passengers from place to place with a speed that humans had never experienced before.
Patek Philippe kept apace with the flying phenomenon by crafting its own pilot’s watches. Two of the 1936 watches are on display at its museum in Geneva. The 2015 Ref. 5524G Calatrava Pilot Travel Time’s design inspiration came directly from these two early pieces.
The 5524G’s bold, out-of-the-box design with its outsized pushers and considerable diameter was indeed atypical for Patek Philippe. It was disruptive before disruption became a marketing lexicon. And although it did cause disruption, the Ref. 5524G Calatrava Travel Time was thought-provoking. It’s become a hugely popular watch in just five years.
Introducing the Ref. 7234G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time
Today, Patek Philippe is adding to the Travel Time range with a mid-sized timepiece in 18K white gold and elegant blue dial. The watch’s diameter is 37.5mm, making it extremely wearable for both men and women. And this was Patek Philippe’s intent, “As a medium-sized version of the Ref. 5524G launched in 2015, the Ref. 7234G Calatrava Pilot Travel Time has a diameter of 37.5 mm to fit women’s and men’s wrists,” according to the brand. The 37.5mm size was introduced in 2018 in rose gold, and now this white gold version rounds out the Calatrava Travel Time family, of which the first piece was white gold.
The watch’s blue dial serves as a perfect foil for the white gold, luminous numerals, and hands. Like the 2015 version, the hands are blued white gold, creating a perfect continuity with the color of the dial. The two time zones are indicated by two hour hands. The local hour hand is solid, while the home-time hour hand is skeletonized. In addition, both local and home times have their own day/night indicator – small circular apertures at 3 o’clock for home-time and 9 o’clock for local.
The two pushers on the left side of the dial control the local time in hour increments. The pusher at 8 o’clock sets the hours forward, and the pusher at 10 o’clock sets them back. While being set, the local time disconnects from the movement, so the watch’s minutes and seconds timekeeping continues uninterrupted. The date indicator, which is always synchronized with the local time, is at 6 o’clock.
The new Ref. 7234G-001, priced at $48,495, comes with two colored straps. The first is a shiny blue calfskin strap reminiscent of early pilot’s harnesses, according to the brand. The second strap is also a nod to aviation gear. It’s a vintage brown color with contrast stitching that resembles belts worn with early pilot's overalls.
(Images provided by Patek Philippe)