To a lot of people, Patek Philippe equals mechanical and complex complications such as a perpetual calendar, minute repeater or even a chronograph. However, let’s not forget that Patek Philippe also has a powerful collection of subtle Calatrava timepieces. Today, we will have a look at this Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227. At first sight, the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227 seems to be a Calatrava like any other Calatrava you’ve seen, but again it are these subtleties that make it stand out.
The Calatrava was first created in 1932 and earned an important spot in the Patek Philippe collection ever since. Their sleek and elegant designs might seem very generic to the untrained eye, but upon closer inspection you will see that it is one of the few dress watches out there that has everything ‘just right’. Perhaps the Calatrava embodies the perfect dress watch, with the date as its only complication.
So, what is it about this Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227 reference – available in white, yellow and red gold – that makes it so different from the other Calatravas we’ve seen? Well, I don’t know if you have had the chance to try a Calatrava on your wrist, but they tend to be small. There was even a time when 30 – 32mm watches were considered normal for men, you will find quite a bit of those on the vintage market platforms for sale. In the current collection however, the other Calatrava timepieces have a diameter from 35mm to 38mm. Until recently, 37mm was the largest size of a Patek Philippe Calatrava. Therefore, you could say this Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227 is a Calatrava ‘Jumbo’, with is 39mm.
Although this size suits me perfectly, I immediately had to think about those connoisseurs of vintage timepieces – Patek Philippe in particular – that probably almost choked when they saw the specifications on this watch when the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227 was introduced during last year’s BaselWorld. Luckily, for those collectors of classic looking timepieces there is always the 35 – 38mm models in the Calatrava collection or the possibility to seek the pre-owned market for even smaller models.
Besides the diameter, Patek Philippe decided to put an officer’s case back on this watch. This invisibly-hinged dust cover that Patek Philippe added to this watch, was done by the same craftsman who designed and crafted the Calatrava case itself. The perfect fit to the case and sapphire crystal on the back side makes that this watch only measures 9,24mm in thickness. Once you opened the dust-cover by pulling its small lip, you can start to admire the beautiful Patek Philippe caliber 324 S C movement. A 48 hour power reserve movement that’s only 3.3mm thick and has this beautiful 21K gold rotor. The movement also features a large four-arm Gyromax balance and a Spiromax spring made of Silinvar.
When Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227 is worn on the wrist, the small lip on the dust cover goes unnoticed. The dial however, is something that will definitely make you stare. The cream-color lacquered dial looks amazing, especially in combination with the red gold model I think. This ivory or cream-ish dial on the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227 made me think of the faulty dials that Rolex used in the 1980s, on their Explorer II models. Highly sought-after by collectors and fetching astonishing prices.
The 18K gold Dauphin shaped hands with two edges look amazing on this watch. This shape of hands was commonly used in the 1950s and 1960s, like on the Omega Constellation pie-pans we featured here recently, and perfectly fit a dress watch.
All this beauty – we haven’t even mentioned its perfectly crafted alligator strap and beautiful gold buckle – comes at a price of course. Although list price is around $37K USD for the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227, the market value is a bit lower and you will be able to find them for approx. $30K USD. The looks and appearance of the 39mm Calatrava 5227 are as sophisticated as the very first Calatrava (reference 96) models in my opinion. Although true Calatrava aficionados perhaps disagree on that. More important however for many readers out there, is how this watch rates to cheaper alternatives. $30K USD will buy you a very beautiful Jaeger-LeCoultre watch from the Master Ultra-Thin collection in platinum or a Girard-Perregaux 1966 and still give you enough change for something sporty from the Rolex or Omega collection as well.
However, we must not forget that Patek Philippe has a loyal base of fans and collectors who pursue these Calatrava watches. It is a breed on its own really. A serious Patek Philippe collector probably doesn’t wonder about the other similar watches he can buy for the price of one Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227. You could say the Calatrava is a watch that belongs in a Top 10 of iconic watches so in that respect it is just as collectible as a Nautilus, Royal Oak,Lange 1, Reverso etc.
In the end, comparison is difficult for those who long for a Patek Philippe Calatrava 5227 and probably won’t settle for anything less. Something I can completely understand, as I’ve pursued some other watches myself with a price tag that probably do not make sense to many others. It is not always about money, this Calatrava is one of the perfect examples.