Opinion: The Patek Philippe 2526

It is difficult to deny the beauty of the vintage Patek Philippe Calatrava 2526, or any Calatrava for that matter. In my opinion, the greatest variant is in yellow gold with a cream or black Grand Feu enamel dial. The timepiece marks an important transition in wristwatch design for Patek Philippe. Previous Calatravas were distinctly similar to pocket watches. The cases were geometric and dare I say, crude! Not in a bad way, however, but slightly rudimentary.

The 2526 departs from the styles of pocket watches. The case is gorgeously sculpted and fluid. It is practically molten in that it wraps around the curvature of the wrist beautifully. Moreover, the dial design and layout is elegant and shows stark resemblance to previous Calatrava dials, and the color sublimely contributes the whole of the timepiece.

Credit: Matthew Bain Inc. - Under Fair Use Guidelines

Credit: Matthew Bain Inc. - Under Fair Use Guidelines

The true beauty of this watch lies in the contrast between the dial and case. The unsung hero of this watch, and other great watch designs is the way in which masculine and feminine design elements contrast and meld together to create harmony. In this example, the case is flowing and without form. This contrasts with the angular structures of the dial furniture. Furthermore, yellow gold is, in my opinion, the best metal for this watch. However, white gold is great for the person who values a pure, clinical aesthetic. The watch was also produced in pink gold, but that is simply not my preference. From my perspective, it throws off the design off balance.

One of my grievances with watchmaking, especially in modern times, is the production of complications for complication’s sake. I am proud to say that striking beauty can be obtained with three hands and a well finished, accurate caliber. And the Patek caliber 12-600 AT is worth mentioning, too. It is widely considered to be an extremely accurate and groundbreaking caliber. You can read more about it here.

It’s worth stating that this watch is a dream for most collectors, and a wild one at that! It is definitely one of those “grails.” However, the modern 5227 or its predecessors may suffice if you can get over the laquered dials, altered case, modified dial, and date window. It really gets on my nerves that brands will change designs for the worse just for the sake of “newness".”

Colin CarpenterComment