PATEK PHILIPPE’S 2023 watches are a window into the modern-day attitude of the watchmaker. As you would expect from one of the ten oldest watch brands in continuous production (established in 1839), its connection to the past is something it takes very seriously, but it’s also a brand at the forefront of horological innovation.

It takes heed of Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare fable when it comes to renewing its collections – slowly and steadily rolling out new colours, complications and references at a carefully managed pace.

For Patek, new watches aren’t launched, they’re gently placed into the stream of production.

When you’re undisputed watchmaking royalty it pays to be a little circumspect, but don’t mistake the brand’s conservatism for complacency. Its latest watches still generate column inches and shape trends more than just about any other brand.

In that regard, Patek Philippe is unchanged from what it’s always been: a leading light in the pursuit of creating the world’s finest watches.

Here’s what 2023 has in store…

Calatrava 24-hour Travel Time 5224R

Straight off the bat, this watch is a real charmer: the 24-hour display, the gorgeous gold appliqué markers, the dual-time zone functionality. It was instantly the watch I was most looking forward to seeing from Patek at Watches & Wonders and it more than delivered when I got to strap it to my wrist.

We’ve already mentioned Patek’s storied history and here it is in full effect: the latest addition to the Calatrava lineup takes its inspiration from the No. P-527 pocket watch made for Brazilian retailer Gondolo & Labouriau in 1905. The Patek Philippe Chronometero Gondolo pocket watch featured a distinctive 24-hour dial and, more than a century later, it’s this rather lovely mechanism that has made its way onto a Calatrava for the very first time.

Patek has made the Travel Time complication, also known as dual-time complication, a recurring signature in recent years and, here, the pairing of local and home time using two central hands has great legibility on this 24-hour display. It’s a clever solution for your everyday frequent flyers.

Really, though, the beauty of this watch is in the execution. The sunburst blue finish and contrasting white chapter rings, the circular finished central dial and snailed small seconds, the 44 hand-applied gold Arabic numerals and cabochon five-minute markers (the most Patek have on any watch, I’m told) each of which is filled with lume. It’s a feast.

I do need to get one bugbear out of the way: Patek’s decision to place noon at the usual 12 o’clock position, as opposed to midnight being at the top of the dial, feels awkward to me. I’ve heard differing explanations for this, ranging from this being an aesthetic move (“12 belongs at the top of the dial” etc) to others suggesting this is a practical decision (“why would you have the early hours of the morning at the top of the dial?”), both of which are justifiable arguments. Personally, however, I find it a little odd reading 12/13/14/15 as the first numbers on a watch, rather than the traditional 12/1/2/3/4. Call me old fashioned, but that’s my gripe about a watch I otherwise adore.

For the movement, Patek has plumped for its new-ish Calibre 21-260 PS FUS, which features a patented three-position crown that handily allows you to set the local and home time in either direction in one-hour increments. Using the same base calibre as the In-Line Perpetual Calendar from 2021, this lets you to set everything via the crown rather than cluttering the aesthetic with pushers.

This is Patek firing on all cylinders: a watch informed by its past, chock full of the latest tech, and finished to exemplary standards. If this doesn’t make you smile, then watches simply aren’t for you, sir.

Calatrava 6007G

The Calatrava is in many ways the distilled essence of Patek Philippe’s watchmaking ethos: a timepiece that first debuted in 1932 that continues to find new relevance year after year. It’s a story of remarkable posterity but also one of reinvention, as we can see in the contemporary guise of the new Ref 6007G.

Sharing a reference with the limited-edition 6007A released in 2020, but this time in white gold as opposed to steel, this is a decisively sportier look than we’re used to from the world’s most recognisable dress watch, with carbon-effect finishing on the black dial and matching embossed calfskin strap. For good measure, there’s three different accent finishes to choose from – yellow, light blue, or red – adding a pop of colour on the second hand, the subdivision of the minutes scale, and on the strap stitching.

Ticking along beneath the surface is the calibre 26-330 S C, offering a 45-hour power reserve at a frequency of 28,800 beats per hour, which is roughly what you’d expect.

I’ll admit to being unsure of where this watch fit into Patek’s lineup when the images first circulated online, but this is one of those timepieces that really needs to be seen in the metal for all of those smaller details to really look their best. →

Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar 5261R

The Aquanaut was launched in 1997 as the kid brother to Patek’s iconic Nautilus. Originally, it was designed for a modern audience that perhaps didn’t resonate so clearly with the 1970s stylings of Gerald Genta’s creation and wanted something, dare we say, ‘younger’.

Well, in recent years baby brother has grown up quite considerably with several new complications added to its collections in the spirit of offering broader options to its huge fanbase. I would argue that its latest addition [pictured right] might just be the best yet.

The Aquanaut Luce Annual Calendar is really quite a fabulous little watch. And I say ‘little’ deliberately. At 39.9mm, one of the first things that jumps off the spec sheet is the fact this is a full 2.3mm smaller than the Aquanaut Jumbo models.

Patek being the master and inventor of the annual calendar complication – a mechanical watch that only needs the date adjusted once a year in February – it’s perhaps no surprise the watchmaker has managed to work its signature complication into such small confines, but it’s nonetheless impressive.

The brand required a new movement in order to achieve this and has created the 26-330 S QA LU – the same base calibre as the 6007G already mentioned, and with the same stats to match.

The ice blue or blue steel colour dial and matching composite strap is absolutely killer against the rose gold case.

Aquanaut Chronograph 5968R

Elsewhere in the Aquanaut collection, the Chronograph 5968 gets the rose gold treatment for the first time and is contrasted against a chocolate brown sunburst dial.

Inside you’ll find the same self-winding flyback chronograph CH 28-520 C powering the watch, boasting a column wheel movement and modern vertical disk clutch, while on the dial itself there’s the Aquanaut’s typical 60-minute counter. [Pictured below.]

Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Chronograph 5924G

The Pilot Travel Time first made a splash in 2015, not least because no one was expecting a new Patek aviation watch, but because the brand made some curious design choices.

Inspired by its 1930s aviation watches, Patek decided to place the two lock-down pushers (used to advance the dual-time complication forwards and backwards) on the left hand side of the case. But, while the watch had plenty of merits, the aesthetics looked out of kilter with other modern day Pateks.

For 2023, Patek has now made a number of aesthetic updates and, as an added bonus, armed it with the first-ever flyback chronograph in the collection.

The fact that the watchmaker has reverted to the traditional right-side orientation for the pushers feels like a sensible thing to do, and the addition of the chronograph only adds to its sporty credentials.

Two excellent colourways, steel-blue and a khaki green, are the cherry on top. Patek is onto another winner here, I wager. 

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