Patek Philippe revived a little-known facet of its watchmaking history in 2015, launching the first Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, a watch inspired by historical aviator watches the manufacture produced in the 1930s. That model spawned an entire collection, which expands this year with the introduction of the new Ref. 7234G-001, cased in white gold and slimmed down in diameter, from the original model’s robust 42 mm to a more unisex 37.5 mm.
Like its predecessors in both sizes — the first 37.5-mm “Medium” model debuted in 2018 in a rose-gold case — the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time includes a practical second-time-zone system, patented in 1959 and 1996, that Patek says is especially useful for travelers. Here’s how it works: when the wearer uses the two pushers at 8 and 10 o’clock 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, preventing the degradation of the balance’s amplitude and allowing it to continue oscillating at a regular rate — meaning the watch will run with the usual accuracy while using the mechanism. The movement providing this user-friendly functionality is Patek Philippe’s automatic Caliber 324 S C FUS, made in-house and on display behind a sapphire caseback.
The movement is composed of 294 pieces and powered by a heavy central rotor made of 21K gold. Possessing a minimum power reserve of 35 hours (and a maximum of 45 hours), it 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.
Like the first Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, the new “medium-sized” model features a dark navy blue dial designed, says Patek, to evoke the body paint of 1930s American fighter planes. The big, applied Arabic numerals are in the same white gold as the Calatrava case and the baton-shaped, local-time hour and minute hands are in blued white gold; the hands and markers are all coated in Super-LumiNova. A skeletonized GMT hand indicates the second time zone subtly: it’s placed behind the main hour hand and thus hidden when the wearer is home rather than abroad — i.e., 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 date subdial at 6 o’clock that displays the date in three-day increments to avoid clutter.
The white-gold case has a flat, slightly inclined bezel and its time-zone pushers (at 8 o’clock to advance the hour, at 10 o’clock to retract it) are equipped with a patented safety lock that prevents unintentional adjustments. The watch is mounted on a shiny navy blue calfskin strap reminiscent of the leather belts worn by military pilots; the white-gold pronged buckle continues the theme, in the style of harnesses used by aviators to keep gear such as parachutes and survival kits easily deployable. The Ref. 7234G-001 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, which Patek says is intended “to fit both men’s and ladies’ wrists,” retails for $48,495.
For a hand-on review of the Calatrava Travel Time in a rose-gold case and brown dial and strap, click here.