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Patek Philippe - Calatrava

The Patek Philippe Calatrava is a line of watches that has been around since the early 1930s. It’s considered to be the signature model of Patek Philippe & Co., a highly respected Swiss manufacturer established in 1851. 

By the time the Calatrava arrived on the market in 1932, the Patek Philippe brand was already firmly established as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of luxury watches. The company had already been around for more than 80 years. However, the Calatrava represented a culmination of everything Patek Philippe had done up to that point. 

The watch was inspired by Bauhaus, a popular trend in German art, design, and architecture at the time. Bauhaus stressed the value of simplified design forms, which Patek Philippe took to heart with the Calatrava. The watch was a beautiful exercise in minimalism, with a clean face, thin hands, and a focus on perfect fit. Compared with other dress watches on the market, it was refreshingly non-ostentatious. It still had the feel and quality of a luxury watch, but with a simple, un-showy design that made it appropriate for day-to-day wear.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Models

The very first Calatrava model was the Reference 96, which remains one of the biggest “White Whales” in the watch world to this day. Ref. 96 watches are among the most valuable timepieces in the world, often fetching $30,000 or more at auction. While Rolex is the more iconic name in the watch world, a vintage Patek Philippe Calatrava can outstrip most Rolex models in price and value.

Despite its simple elegance, the Calatrava is manufactured using exquisite materials and complex watch movements. The care taken with the design has paid off, as many vintage models continue to tick and turn to this day. The quality is part of the reason that Ref. 96 Calatrava models are still held in such high esteem. It also explains the legendary Patek Philippe tagline: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” When watches are this well-made, they become multi-generational family heirlooms.

The longevity and quality of the original Ref. 96 Calatrava model inspired something of an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” strategy for Patek Philippe. All these years later, the Calatrava has only changed slightly regarding design. One of the most popular Patek Philippe watches today is the 5196, a remake of the original Ref. 96 with a slightly larger case. 

The original Ref. 96 model had a 31mm case, a compact design that contributed to the watch’s reputation for being simple, elegant, and unobtrusive. Over the years, though, men’s luxury watches have become progressively larger. Patek Philippe succumbed to the trend in the 2000s, introducing models like the Calatrava 5119, with a 36mm case. Purists were somewhat upset about the shift, but the Calatrava watches have continued to be extremely popular and highly-regarded among collectors. Both the 5119 and the even-larger 5196—with its 37mm case—are still being manufactured by Patek Philippe today. These watches have kept the legacy of the Calatrava going more than 80 years after its introduction.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Pricing

One need look no further than the pricing for the current models of the Calatrava to know that it has lost none of its luxurious cachet. Today, brand new Calatrava models start around the $19,000 price range. Higher-priced models push up above $30,000. The most expensive Calatrava model currently on the Patek Philippe website, meanwhile, is a white gold jeweler watch set with 702 diamonds and pink sapphires. The total price? $102,060. However, because Wingate’s Quality Watches specializes in finding the highest quality pre-owned timepieces, you can find Calatrava models at tic-tock.com priced under $10,000!

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