Remaking a classic is never easy. Do too much and purists balk. Do too little, and, well, what’s the point? Patek Philippe got the balance just right with its new Calatrava “Clous de Paris” timepiece.
When you picture the archetypal watch, the Calatrava comes to mind, with its round case and a clean white dial that’s focused on time — hours, minutes and seconds, nothing more. The model’s original Ref. 96 debuted in 1932, designed to keep with the Bauhaus principle of form following function. That, perhaps, explains its longevity as a favorite among watch lovers, with several evolutions over the ensuing decades.
The latest edition (Ref. 6119; available for $29,570 in 18-k rose or white gold), draws on the original model as well as Ref. 96D. That D stands for decor, referring to the guilloché-engraved hobnail pattern known as “Clous de Paris” (literally “nail of Paris”) embellishing the bezel. Patek took that signature motif and revived it with more oomph — giving it a wider and sharper presence framing the dial. Those ancestors also influenced the faceted gold applied hour markers and dauphine-style hour and minute hands. The 6119’s curved lugs, which enhance comfort on the wrist, can also be traced to the original Ref. 96 edition, as well as to automatic Calatravas from the 1990s.
But it’s not all about the past. Fresh design tweaks have infused the flagship line with contemporary flair. For starters, the new Calatrava has been slightly upsized to a very timely 39 mm — not too big and not too small for today’s tastes.
Legibility is underscored with a railway-track minute scale around the periphery of the dial, and the small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock has been updated with a four-quarter design.
Beyond aesthetics, this next-gen Calatrava has a new manual-winding engine, the Caliber 30-255 PS, which delivers an extended 65-hour power reserve and is equipped with a stop-seconds feature that lets you set the time with one-second accuracy.
In an era dominated by brawny steel sport watches, the Calatrava “Clous de Paris” glides onto the scene, oozing past, present and future elegance like a supreme arbiter of style.