Patek Philippe: a face like no other


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May 2023

Patek Philippe: a face like no other

Patek Philippe, which already boasts a remarkable array of watches featuring the exclusive Travel Time dual time zone complication, is expanding its collection with a new Calatrava showcasing a striking 24-hour time display.


atek Philippe’s dual time zone system, known as Travel Time, owes its extraordinary success to its ease of use and exemplary legibility. When the wearer is not travelling, the two central time hands are neatly concealed behind one other. To display two time zones, the wearer simply adjusts the hidden hand forwards or backwards, allowing it to indicate the second time zone.

In recent years the manufacture has offered this incredibly practical complication in a variety of guises, including the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, the Nautilus Travel Time Chronograph and the Aquanaut Travel Time. It can also be found in the Aquanaut Luce Travel Time for women, as well as the Grande Complication Alarm Travel Time and the Annual Calendar Travel Time. This spring, Patek Philippe is also introducing a brace of new Calatrava Pilot Travel Time chronographs (refs 5924G-001 and 5924G-010). That gives some indication of the immense popularity of this user-friendly and versatile system.

Calatrava 24-Hour Display Travel Time Reference 5224R-001
Calatrava 24-Hour Display Travel Time Reference 5224R-001

Historical inspiration

Up to now, every Travel Time watch has sported a traditional 12-hour dial. To prevent any confusion between day and night, a discreet day/night indicator was included. However, with a 24-hour dial, this element becomes unnecessary.

Throughout its illustrious history, Patek Philippe has introduced several 24-hour displays, most notably for the Chronometro Gondolo pocket watches made at the turn of the 20th century at the request of Brazilian retailer Gondolo & Labouriau. This model, dating back to 1905, can be seen at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.

Chronometro Gondolo Inv. P-527 (1905), Patek Philippe Museum
Chronometro Gondolo Inv. P-527 (1905), Patek Philippe Museum

Drawing inspiration from this watch and others like it, with two hands and small seconds register, Patek Philippe’s designers have given the Travel Time complication and its 24-hour display a fresh, contemporary look. They’ve made a significant departure from previous 24-hour displays by moving noon from 6 o’clock to the 12 o’clock position. This unconventional choice allows for a clear visual distinction between daytime on the top half of the dial (from 6 am to 6 pm) and nighttime on the lower half (6 pm to 6 am).

Clearly, an intuitive analogue reading of the time is no longer possible on a 24-hour dial. Nevertheless, this beautifully minimalistic dial, now unencumbered by the day/night display, provides a perfectly accurate reading of the time, with no risk of confusing local time, which is read off the luminescent hour and minutes hands, and home time, on the secondary openworked hour hand.

The dial’s exceptional readability is further enhanced by a double railroad track scale for the hours and minutes. The 24-hour display combines Arabic numerals with baton markers to avoid overcrowding the dial’s outer edge. Cabochons around the minute track mark each five-minute interval.

A single crown for all adjustments

To preserve the dial’s clean design and the case’s slender bezel, which maximises visibility, Patek Philippe’s engineers have replaced the traditional twin correctors, used for adjusting local time in one-hour increments, with a patented correction system operated via the crown. When pulled out to the intermediate position, local time can be adjusted in the same way by turning the crown clockwise (forward) or anti-clockwise (backward), without affecting the watch’s precision.

Home time is set in the conventional way, with the crown pulled out to its fullest extent. A “balance stop” feature halts the second hand, allowing for precise time setting. This function is activated only when the crown is fully extended, to prevent stopping the movement and to ensure accuracy while changing time zones. Lastly, upon returning home, the wearer can use the crown to align both hour hands in the same position, where they appear as one once more.

The new 31-260 PS FUS 24H calibre
The new 31-260 PS FUS 24H calibre

Relentless pursuit of technical improvement

The new 31-260 PS FUS 24H automatic calibre, which powers the Calatrava Travel Time 24H, exemplifies the continuous technical advancements that enhance usability, comfort, and performance across various models. The crown adjustment mechanism, highly convenient for everyday use, incorporates improvements made in 2021 for the Aquanaut Luce Travel Time (ref. 6269/200R-001) and the Annual Calendar Travel Time (ref. 5326G-001) of 2022.

The 24-hour and Travel Time mechanisms were integrated into the base calibre 31-260, an ultra-thin self-winding movement. Originally introduced in 2011 with the Annual Calendar Regulator (Ref. 5235), this movement was reworked in 2021 for the In-Line Perpetual Calendar (Ref. 5236P-001). At that time, it was bumped up to a frequency of 4Hz (28,800 vph), and given a 20% increase in barrel torque, a platinum mini-rotor (heavier than gold) to enhance its winding power, and a “reduction wheel” or declutch wheel to minimise wear when hand-winding the automatic movement.

In 2022, the movement was once again refined for the Annual Calendar Travel Time (Ref. 5326G-001), incorporating numerous innovations that resulted in eight patent applications. Three of these enhancements, aimed at optimising performance, precision, durability, safety and usability, have been implemented in the new 31-260 PS FUS 24H calibre.

Purposefully timeless elegance

All these optimisations – a concentrated blend of technical innovations designed to enhance performance, reliability and usability – are housed in a rose gold case with a diameter of 42 mm and a depth of just 10.2 mm. The case is entirely hand-polished and directly inspired by the Calatrava Weekly Calendar (Ref. 5212A-001) launched in 2019. Its minimalist aesthetic, evident in the curved, double-ridged lugs, underscores its timeless and enduring elegance.

Fitted to a navy blue calf leather strap featuring a Nubuk finish and contrasting cream topstitching, with a rose gold prong buckle, the slim case complements the navy blue dial and its refined finishes. The circular brushed centre, circular satin-finished hour ring and finely azured small seconds subdial with rose gold accent all create captivating plays of light. Additionally, 44 rose gold appliques, all polished together to achieve the same lustre, are topped by three rose gold “syringe” hands.

Owing to its unique yet intuitive display, the Calatrava 24-Hour Display Travel Time (Ref. 5224R-001) holds a special place within the elegant and ingenious Travel Time family of the prestigious Geneva house. Collectors and travellers – take note!

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