Patek Philippe is a watchmaker in the same way that SpaceX is a freight haulier. The normal rules just don't apply when the first question around the release of a new watch is who will be allowed to buy it. The recently released Calatrava Ref 6007A is a limited edition of 1,000 pieces, which in Patek terms is practically mass production, but expect something of a fight if you want to get your hands on one any time soon, not least because it is cased in steel rather than gold or platinum as normal.
The watch is intended to mark the opening of Patek's new £500 million factory extension in Geneva, a building that comprises 1,438,596 sq ft of space with a volume it helpfully estimates as equivalent to seven Airbus A380s. Being Patek Philippe, the purpose of this vast new building is not to increase production above the near 62,000 watches made annually, but to allow for a growth in complicated watches and a fast-growing service demand (Patek has made well over a million watches since the current factory was opened in 1996).
The moment news emerged of a steel Calatrava being released and in such an untraditional guise, the brand's followers were swift to condemn such an innovative treatment of what is Patek Philippe's most iconic watch. It is certainly a little fussier than you might expect from a Calatrava, but it follows the aesthetic pioneered by the successful Pilot Travel Time Ref 5524 of a few years ago.
More to the point, however, is that Patek has always been a company that innovates - it was a pioneer in the development of quartz-based wristwatches in the 1960s, while two of its five case shapes came directly from the pen of the industry's most radical designer, the late Gérald Genta. And in any case, there is no 'typical' Calatrava; it has always evolved with the times.
The centre holds
One of the more surprising watches in Omega's catalogue is the De Ville Central Tourbillon, which has just had an upgrade, incorporating the brand's Master Chronometer suite of materials. It's a reminder that Omega's heritage includes an incredibly strong reputation for accurate timekeeping. The original version of this piece was intended to underline - ahead of the company's centenary - that Omega has always been in the precision game.
Also eye-catching are the design tweaks to a watch that's evolved only slowly since its 1994 debut. Where that model was overtly, perhaps excessively, classical, the new version has a pared-back feel to both dial and case that's more like Omega's debut, almost clinically severe, tourbillon wristwatch from 1947 (one of the very first wrist tourbillons made).
The result is a watch that's much closer to the output of contemporary independents such as H Moser & Cie or MB&F than you would expect from the big beast of the Swatch Group.
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