Throwback Thursday: Patek Philippe Calatrava

The Patek Philippe Calatrava is the ultimate classic timepiece and the brand’s flagship model – the heirloom that you “never really own.”  The first model, shown here, was the Ref. 96, introduced in the same year the Stern family, owners of Patek Philippe, acquired the company: 1932. The watch is an obvious forerunner of today’s Calatrava references: minimalist dial with simple, applied gold indices, dauphine hands, a small seconds dial at 6 o’clock, the Calatrava symbol on the crown and those gloriously long, tapered lugs. The logo, too, has remained the same. Many of today’s references have a date window as well, but many have neither date nor small seconds. A hobnail patterned bezel is another signature feature of the modern Calatrava, but that is as decorative as it gets. Patek Philippe has made few variations to this winning formula of simplicity and elegance, testament to the kind of continuity when a brand is controlled by a single family for so long. This is probably the world’s most famous non-complicated watch. The Calatrava symbol, by the way, is a Greek cross with fleur de lis tips, and takes its name from the Order of Calatrava, a Spanish Papal military order of the 12th century, whose members were known for their heroic virtue.

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