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.
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 find.
This reference 5026G is encased in white gold, with a deep blue dial. The dial is subtly finished with a sunburst pattern, and is brushed outwards from the centre. The watch also features printed Roman numerals in white, with sword-shaped hands in the same colour, adding to the overall understated appearance. 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.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Patek Philippe Calatrava will be subject to 20% VAT