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 5026G, which was produced between 1997 and 2002, and a close descendant of the 5000G.
This reference 5026G is encased in white gold, which creates a stark contrast against the smooth black dial. The applied Breguet numerals give the watch a classic look, alongside a variation of the traditional Breguet hands, both of which provide increased legibility against the dial. This aesthetic is reminiscent of the mid-century wristwatches produced by the manufacture, which occasionally featured Breguet numerals and white metal cases, two features highly sought after by vintage enthusiasts.
To give the watch a playful touch of modernity, a seconds sub-dial sits asymmetrically in place of the 4 and 5 o’clock markers, in a nostalgic font which reminds of mid-century watches from the manufacture. A dotted minute track runs around the outermost part of the dial. At 34mm, the reference 5026G is only slightly larger than a classic Calatrava Ref. 96 but wears larger than its dimensions would suggest, thanks to the elongated lugs and expansive, uniform dial. The crown also bears the customary Patek Philippe Calatrava Cross.
The reference 5026G is powered by the caliber 240, a 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.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Patek Philippe Calatrava 5026G will be subject to 20% VAT. Viewings are currently suspended for the time being.