While not historically known for their tool watches, Patek Philippe surprised the world in 2015 with their Calatrava Pilot Travel Time ref. 5524G. For years the Calatrava collection had been simple, elegant, and classical – a hallmark of Patek Philippe's own identity. The Pilot Travel Time took all of these design choices that one might expect from a Patek and delivered on them in a rather bold way, with their first commercial foray into pilot's watches. Ultimately proving to be controversial, the new Travel Time grew in popularity thanks to its status as a tasteful marriage between Patek's typical refined elegance and the rugged reliability of a pilot's watch. Since then, the Genevan giants have expanded the collection on multiple occasions, with one such occasion being the ref. 5524R that I have here.
Released in 2018 to expand upon the original model, the ref. 5524R is technically identical to its white gold sibling – with just a change of dial color and case material. Featuring a warm brown sunburst dial with large gothic applied numerals to match its cathedral hands, the ref. 5524R is remarkably legible thanks to its pilot watch DNA, yet staggeringly stylish, as Patek themselves would ensure. Featuring a pointer-date subdial at 6 o'clock with a white skeleton hour hand that synchronizes with the home-time AM/PM aperture on its right that mirrors the local time's AM/PM aperture on the left, the ref. 5524R's dial is clean, symmetrical, and entirely useful for the well-traveled amongst us.
With its 18kt rose gold case sporting two mushroom-style screw-down pushers on the left at 8 and 10 o'clock (which adjust the second time zone forward or back), the ref. 5524R's 42mm construction is quite balanced on the wrist as its standard crown at 3 o'clock intersects the line between the two pushers. Driven by the cal. 324 S C FUS movement, the ref. 5524R displays the finest of Patek's craftsmanship beneath its exhibition caseback, in keeping with Patek's legendary standards of craftsmanship, artistry, and detail. An excellent example of pushing boundaries and exploring unchartered routes, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time ref. 5524R is an incredible watch that provides an alternative to the brand’s more traditional and understated pieces.