A Historic Lineage
First introduced in 1932, the Calatrava reference 96 was one of the earliest wristwatches ever released by Patek Philippe. The manufacture had just been purchased by Charles and Henri Stern, and this was the first model they unveiled, with the intention of breathing a new life into the Genevan brand.
Designed by David Penney, who was heavily influenced by the Bauhaus school of art, the Calatrava design favoured simplicity – a significant departure from the excess of the Art Deco era. Meanwhile, the name "Calatrava" and the familiar Patek Philippe Calatrava Cross were styled after the medieval Order of Calatrava, an organisation of knights that originated in Spain.
Looking back, this original design is considered by many as the ultimate blueprint for a time-only dress watch. Since its inception, the Calatrava has taken on many different forms, including with this reference 5026, which is part of a four-piece set created in 2001 to honour the Millennium year. Only 130 sets were ever created, making this watch a rare piece in its own right.
This Ref. 5026R is encased in rose gold, which provides a soft contrast to the grey dial, which is brushed outwards from the centre, giving it the appearance of a sunburst. The watch also features printed Roman numerals in white, complementing the overall colour palette. The sword-shaped hands are rendered in the same colour, providing the same understated impression. Rather unusually, the seconds sub-dial is located in place of the 4 and 5 o’clock index markers, giving a modern touch to what otherwise is a rather classic design.
The watch is signed with “PATEK PHILIPPE – GENEVE” in sans serif font, directly below the 12 o’clock marker, further highlighting the piece’s modern origins. Despite its relatively small size – the piece is only slightly larger than a Calatrava Ref. 96 – it wears larger on the wrist than its dimensions would suggest, thanks to its elongated lugs. The crown also bears the customary Patek Philippe Calatrava Cross.
This watch is powered by the calibre 240 PS, an ultra-thin, self-winding movement that was first launched in 1977, with the 3739 Golden Ellipse. It was also used in Patek Philippe’s ultra-thin perpetual calendars, notably the reference 3940. When viewed through the sapphire caseback, the beautifully finished movement can be seen, with fine Geneva stripes, as well as exquisite chamfering on all angles.
The movement is also inset with 27 jewels a 48-hour power reserve, and a 22k gold rotor. It bears the Geneva Seal, a mark of excellence given only to watches with the highest quality by the city of Geneva, and which was first established in 1886.
This Calatrava Ref. 5026R is accompanied by its original outer and inner boxes, in addition to several pieces of product literature, ranging from a list of distributors and a separate “Collector’s Library” pamphlet to a booklet describing the movements available from Patek Philippe. Further to this, the piece also has a leather booklet and a Certificate of Origin.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Patek Philippe Calatrava 5026R will be subject to 20% VAT.