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Review of the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time

by Chester Lau on April 4, 2015
The Collector's View

The Patek Philippe Pilot is arguably the most controversial timepiece we have seen at Basel. From pictures, many have gasped at how audacious the design is. Comments like ‘this is not a Patek Philippe’ came ringing through the waves. Indeed, this is highly unlike anything we have ever seen from Patek Philippe’s modern collection. But then again, in the 1970s when the Nautilus was first launched, wasn’t it shocking and shunned as well? 

We are not saying that the Pilot will be the next Nautilus. However, a good gauge at how collectible this timepiece may be in the good future will depend on several factors. Firstly, will this Calatrava Pilot be a one off unique design, or is it a start of a series of pilot watches? Secondly, how many pieces of these are produced? Rumours say that it is a small series production.

Some watch collectors argue that the initial popularity of the model will determine the above two factors. If it is highly popular today, it might wind up as a new series with thousands more of itself being produced. The irony therefore lies in an inverse correlation. The less popular this piece is today, the more collectible it may be in future.

patek-pilot-wrist

The Pilot uses the calibre 324, previously used in the Aquanaut 5164. Sized at 42mm,

Regardless, we are highly optimistic about this piece. Although it may look crass as compared to its full classic brothers, it is actually very well made. Our editor Peter Chong handled and photographed the Pilot at Basel and he was amazed by its build and overall aesthetics. It wears comfortably, has sufficient heft, and is fittingly cased in a white gold frame. Some may find it disturbing to use the soft metal in an otherwise tool watch, but we think it fits perfectly. The understated purity of the metal adds an element of finesse to the timepiece. It is a gentleman’s Pilot’s watch.

Some other critics of the Pilot point out that it uses a smaller sized movement than it should for a larger case. It uses the Calibre 324 S C FUS, previously used in a smaller sized Aquanaut 5164. To circumvent the smaller sized movement, Patek Philippe uses a white gold movement bezel to fill up the gaps between the case and the movement. This line of criticism is in tune with how we detest circle shaped movements in rectangle cases for instance. Every case should have a dedicated movement.

patek-pilot-buckle

The white clevis prong buckle, bearing the brand name. The clevis prong buckle is a patented design usually seen in shackles on heavy vehicles and used for towing. This is probably the first time a clevis prong is used on a watch buckle.

patek-pilot-mvt

The calibre 324 which beats at 28,800 bph, and houses a 35-45 hour power reserve. Some other innovations include the Spiromax® balance spring and Gyromax® balance.

Although most of us at Deployant love the watch, some of us have varying opinions. One of us finds that the three crowns look morbid on the watch. With the screw lock mechanism and fluted edges, it sticks out like a sore thumb. The problem was not as pronounced in the Aquanaut 5164 or the 5134 Calatrava Travel, primarily because the pushers are broad and round and blend into the case. The two pushers here just look awkward.

patek-pilot-dial

Blue varnished dial, gold applied numerals with luminescent coating

The lume colour in the original rendering provided by Patek Philippe looked very green. In live photos though, the green seems much less in comparison, and the default colour looks more towards the white side. Fortunate, in a sense, lest the watch becomes compared with the likes of Chronoswiss or Ball.

patek-pilot

Another prominent woe we hear about this piece is the font of the hour markers; just think of another brand under LVMH who has a pilot line and uses the same font. The uncanny similarity of the numeral font, leaves many feeling queasy. They must have wondered if their astigmatism was working up.

Despite varying woes and concerns, our take is that at USD 47,600 the piece is priced appropriately; when we compare with Patek Philippe’s own products, of course. For the price tag, you are getting a solid gold Patek Philippe with a dual time complication. Furthermore, you may possibly be getting a highly unique series production in modern Patek Philippe History. Prestige and rationality aside, one should still subscribe to the mantra of sentimentality. Love it before you get it.

For more details of the Pilot, read our news release here.

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