Patek Philippe Ref. 5524, a Vintage-Inspired Pilots’ Watch, Debuts at Baselworld 2015


Patek Philippe Ref. 5524What a difference a year makes. At last year’s Baselworld, Patek Philippe left many watch aficionados underwhelmed, rolling out only a few new models while saving the headliners for the brand’s 175th anniversary celebration in the fall. This year, however, the quintessential Swiss luxury brand already has tongues wagging about a decidedly unconventional new release: the Patek Philippe Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref. 5524, a white-gold watch inspired by two vintage aviator watches from the Patek Philippe Museum.

As many watch enthusiasts are aware, Patek Philippe’s association with world-time watches goes back a long way: it developed its first “Heure Universelle” timepieces, with famous watchmaker Louis Cottier, in 1930, and was awarded a patent for its original “Travel Time” mechanism in 1959. What fewer may know is that the brand also has a history in aviation, developing notable “siderometer” (or “hour angle”) wristwatches back in the early days of flight, two of which are now on display in Patek’s museum in Geneva and serve as the inspiration for this new model.

The most famous “hour angle” watch was conceived with the input of legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh; a modern version of the watch is today marketed by Longines. Unlike that watch, however, whose navigational function has been made obsolete by modern GPS, Patek’s new Pilot Travel Time includes a practical second-time-zone system (patented in 1996) that it says is especially useful for air travel.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5524 - soldier

Patek Philippe Ref. 5524 - front

Here’s how it works: when you use the pushers to move the local-time hour hand forward or backward in one-hour increments, an isolator uncouples the time-zone mechanism from the going train, which prevents the degradation of the balance’s amplitude and allows it to continue oscillating at a regular rate. The upshot is that the watch should continues to run with the usual accuracy while you’re using the mechanism. The movement that’s equipped with this feature — along with powering a sweep seconds hand and an analog date — is Patek Philippe’s self-winding caliber 324 S C FUS manufacture movement, which is visible through the watch’s sapphire caseback and boasts a heavy central rotor in 21K gold. Caliber 324 S C FUS — most likely a descendant of the movement that debuted in last year’s Nautilus Travel Time — is made up of 294 pieces and meets all of the stringent technical and decorative standards of Patek Philippe’s own in-house quality hallmark (For more on how these stack up to other brands’ criteria, click here). These include a rate accuracy with a tolerance of -3/+2 seconds, chamfered bridges with Geneva stripes, a circular-grained gold rotor, snailed flanks, and other haute horlogerie finishes.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5524 - front-back

The dark navy blue of the dial is said to be inspired by the body paint of 1930s American fighter planes; the big, applied Arabic numerals are made of white gold and the Super-LumiNova-coated baton hands for the local hours and minutes also aid in legibility. The skeletonized GMT hand for the second time zone conveys its information subtly: it’s placed behind the main hour hand and hidden for the times when local and home times are identical. There are separate day/night indicators for each time zone (local at 9 o’clock and home at 3 o’clock), and a brand-new date subdial at 6 o’clock that displays the date in three-day increments.

The white-gold Calatrava-style case measures 42 mm in diameter and has a flat, slightly inclined bezel. Its time-zone pushers (at 8 o’clock to advance the hour, at 10 o’clock to retract it) are equipped with a patent pending safety lock that prevents unintentional adjustments. The strap of the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time is also one we’re not used to seeing on a Patek Philippe watch: made of vintage brown calfskin leather with contrast top-stitching, reminiscent of the leather belts worn by flyboys of yesteryear. Even the buckle (also in white gold) continues the theme, echoing the look of harnesses used by aviators to keep their gear deployable without restricting their movement.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5524 - side

The Patek Philippe Calatrava Travel Time Ref. 5524 is priced at $47,600 and is set for a September 2015 takeoff. Below you’ll find some live shots of the watch taken at Baselworld 2015.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5524 - wrist
Patek Philippe Ref. 5524 - back, live
3 Responses to “Patek Philippe Ref. 5524, a Vintage-Inspired Pilots’ Watch, Debuts at Baselworld 2015”

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  1. I like it. Good move putting the pushers on the left side of the case to differentiate it from chronograph pushers found on the right side of the case.

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  2. Dimitry

    Refering to the statement “Caliber 324 S C FUS — most likely a descendant of the movement that debuted in last year’s Nautilus Travel Time”.
    The 5524 uses the same movement 324 S C FUS as was used in the 5164, the nautilus was a descendant of this.

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