The Calatrava is an iconic Patek Philippe watch, representing the Swiss manufacturer's exquisite style like no other collection. The Calatrava is currently available in around 40 different versions with cases made of yellow, white, and rose gold.
Today, the Calatrava is considered a conservative watch, but it didn't always have this image. The collection first appeared in 1932, giving it a longer history than most other watches sold today. However, the Calatrava designers weren't restricted to the current trends at the time - they were inventive and forward-thinking. During the early 1930s, they were inspired by the Bauhaus movement, a German art school that is still considered the embodiment of modern design. Bauhaus focused on reducing design to its most essential elements and discarding any fringes. At its debut, the Calatrava had an innovative design.
The collection has the cross fleury, Patek Philippe's company logo, to thank for its name. During the Middle Ages, this symbol was the emblem of the Order of Calatrava, which protected a castle of the same name in Castile. The Cross of Calatrava is also a part of the coat of arms of Jean-Adrien Philippe's home village; it can be assumed that this influenced the company's choice to use it as a logo. In 1887, Patek Philippe officially registered the Cross of Calatrava as their company logo.
Today, the Calatrava can be viewed as the prototype for a round, elegant dress watch. Its shape plays an important role, as Patek's competitor Cartier had already released impressive, classy dress watches with rectangular cases, such as the Santos and the Tank. The cult watch Reverso from Jaeger-LeCoultre from 1931 is also rectangular.
Patek Philippe consider the Calatrava to be the emblem of their company. The most popular version has reference number 3919 and was produced from 1985 to 2006. Its most distinctive feature is its guilloched bezel, known as a Clous de Paris bezel. Feuille hands and Roman numerals emphasize the classic characteristics of this watch. With a diameter of 33.5 mm, the 3919 Calatrava was relatively small, at least according to today's standards. Its current version, the 5119, is a bit larger, with a diameter of 36 mm. This is still considered relatively small in comparison to today's larger men's watches.
The first Calatrava from 1932 had the reference number 96. Today, the current model can be found under reference number 5196; this version has not changed much from the original model. There is a small seconds located at six o'clock, and the watch features dauphine hands and stick indices. Curiously, both of these watches seem as if they were made in the 1950s. The 96, with its Bauhaus inspired, stripped-down look, was forward-looking at the time, while the 5196 attempts to recreate the origins of the series.
Are you looking for a discreet, gold luxury watch with a good reputation? Consider the Calatrava. It goes perfectly with a tailored suit and thanks to its moderate size, it doesn't draw too much attention. Once a connoisseur sees the timepiece on your wrist, however, they'll be able to recognize it as a Calatrava. After all, it's one of the most well-known dress watches in the world.
Above all, the versions with reference numbers 3919 and 5119 are the most striking due to their guilloched bezels. You can purchase a Calatrava 3919 in very good condition for around 8,000 euros. A new 5119 costs about 15,000 euros.
If you prefer an even simpler design reminiscent of the first Calatrava, take a look at the 5196 model. New, dealers usually expect around 16,000 euros for this watch.
Altogether, you can choose from around 40 different models, two-thirds of which are primarily for men. The women's models are diamond-set and thus usually more expensive than most of the men's models. A women's Calatrava with reference number 4895 costs between 150,000 and 200,000 euros new. The price can be traced back to the 162 baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel. On the other end of the price spectrum you can find pre-owned women's Calatravas in very good condition. They are made of gold, but only cost between 4,000 and 5,000 euros due to their quartz movements. These watches were made in the 1980s and 90s.
Although Patek Philippe has masterfully conquered the art of watchmaking like almost no other manufacturer, the Calatrava remains a simple series. However, this leading collection has no chronographs, perpetual calendars, moon phase displays, minute repeaters, tourbillons, or any other extras.
The dial on the popular 5119 model does not feature a date display, giving the watch a harmonious, symmetrical look. The 5196 simply has hour and minute hands and a small seconds. Both the 5119 and the 5196 are powered by the manual caliber 215 PS. It vibrates at 28,800 A/h and has a 48-hour power reserve. The 5120 is powered by the automatic caliber 240 and stays as simple as possible, foregoing even a seconds hand.
The Calatrava 6000 has a date by hand display on the edge of the dial. The automatic movement 240 PS C makes this layout possible. Other versions of the Calatrava display the date in a more traditional way: in a window at three o'clock. For these watches, Patek Philippe uses the automatic movement 324 SC.
Patek Philippe has existed as a company since 1851. The Polish watchmaker Antoni Patek (1811 - 1877) began working together with his French colleague Adrien Philippe (1815 - 1894) in 1845 in Geneva, Switzerland. Philippe had invented the crown mechanism for winding and setting pocket watches in 1844. Up until that point, watch movements could only be wound via keys.
In 1851, Patek and Philippe traveled to the Great Exhibition in London and gained Queen Victoria, who bought two watches, as a prominent customer. The royal houses of Denmark and Italy also joined their clientele. The New York jeweler Tiffany & Co. ordered 130 watches. The first wristwatch from Patek Philippe was created in 1868, and they received a patent for the first double chronograph in 1902. In 1925, they introduced the first wristwatch with a perpetual calendar.
The Stern family bought the company in 1932. Thierry Stern has been leading the company since 2009. Every year, Patek Philippe produces around 50,000 watches.