By Rebecca Doulton
The Calatrava collection from Patek Philippe has been a staple since 1932. Its origins coincide with the year that two Stern brothers bought the company, which is now in the hands of a fourth generation Stern. Christened Calatrava in honour of the cross that appears on all Patek Philpipe watches, the collection is perhaps the most understated and minimalist of the grand Swiss Maison, and also the most eloquent spokesperson of the Patek Philippe style.
The sober yet elegant aesthetics of the two Patek Philippe Calatrava watches for women presented this year ensure the continuing good health of this particular branch of the family, impervious to the changing fashions of the day. The 33mm white gold model has a beautiful guilloché silvery grey dial with powdered gold hour markers, and a bezel set with 72 diamonds. Turning the watch over, a sapphire crystal caseback reveals the manual-winding movement - calibre 215 - with its Patek Philippe seal of quality applied to the movement and case.
The new 34.6mm Calatrava ladies’ watches are my favourite, and feature a supple rose gold bracelet and a classically styled dial with legible Breguet numerals. Slimmer in height than the white gold model, these Patek Philippe watches are equipped with an ultra-thin automatic movement - calibre 240 - and you can see the mini gold rotor swinging in the movement through the crystal caseback.
In 1976, Patek Philippe defied its very own conventions and presented the Nautilus watch - a bold muscular sports watch for men made in stainless steel - as opposed to the customary use of gold - designed by Gérald Genta, the same designer behind the revolutionary 1972 Royal Oak watch from Audemars Piguet. The enfant terrible of Patek Philippe watches with its oversized dimensions of the day - 42.8 x 41.8mm - the timepiece was styled like a porthole and was water-resistant to 120 metres. Needless to say, it has gone on to become a Patek icon and happens to be Brad Pitt’s favourite watch.
Ladies got their very own Nautilus watch in 1980 and, this year, two models - one in rose gold with 56 diamonds on the bezel, and a classic stainless steel version with a blue opaline dial - cater to women who appreciate these iconic men’s watches presented in a feminine 35.2mm case.
The dials of all three Patek Philippe Nautilus watches feature the hallmark stripey pattern, which has become more undulating over the years, in keeping with the sporty maritime spirit of the watch. An automatic movement - calibre 324 S C - keeps the hours, minutes, central seconds and date window at 6 o’clock in sync, and for increased visibility in the dark, the hour markers, numerals and hands have a luminescent coating.