One of the bedrocks of the Patek Philippe collection is its classic dress watch- the Calatrava. A necessary foundation piece for any Haute Horlogerie brand, the dress watch is a must and with the Calatrava, Patek Philippe continues to build on its rich tradition to this day.
For a bit of historical context, we go back to the ’30s when Charles and Henri Stern purchased the Patek Philippe brand. To revamp the manufacture, the first model they produced is, of course, the Calatrava. The Ref. 96 came in 1932, at a time when wristwatches were beginning to take over pocket watches and it was a move that cemented their status as one of the eminent watch brands of the world. To this day, the Stern family still owns Patek Philippe and you can tell that the Calatrava is still a staple in the brand’s lineup.
Since then, there have been many iterations of the classic Calatrava, from varying case sizes to dial styles, with this example being one of my favorites. I am always drawn to the vintage-inspired Calatravas such as this and the 5296G Sector Dial. As a guy who started out with vintage watches, I can immediately recognize the inspiration behind the 5196P- the reference 570. The 570 is considered by many collectors to be the pinnacle of vintage Calatrava, due to its large size and variations in dial style. Of all the 570s, the most desirable ones are those with two-tone dials with Breguet numerals, and it is nice to know that Patek Philippe themselves took notice. The design of the original is almost identical to the 5196P, with a concentrically brushed outer ring, applied Breguet numerals, and a smooth opaline center.
The 5196P is the flagship Calatrava and without a doubt the most expensive one that Patek makes. Based on my research, despite being still in production and having been made since 2004, the number of these produced is very low with not many available on the market. This is the ultimate modern Calatrava and one that respectfully pays homage to its past while remaining relevant to modern tastes and sensibilities.