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Something Truly New: The Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

When we think of Patek Philippe, a general image of timeless designs with high-end touches tends to come to mind. On one hand, a “timeless” design can also make you think of a watch that is boring, either from an aesthetics or watchmaking perspective. To disabuse us of that prejudice, one simply needs to look at a watch like the Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time.

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

History

The Patek Philippe Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time was introduced at Watches & Wonders in early 2022. At shows, when a watch brand touts a “new” design, sometimes it can be something as simple as a new dial color, or perhaps a new material for the case. Other times, it can be a watch that truly sets the bar for what we consider new. With this release, Patek Philippe did something it had not done in its watches before — combine an annual calendar complication with a GMT complication. Individually, these are practical — and highly useful — complications to have in a watch. With their powers combined, we believe that they’ve truly accomplished something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

With the individual complications, Patek Philippe has a long and storied career. They created their first ever perpetual calendar in 1925. To be clear, an annual calendar – which this watch is – is not the same as a perpetual calendar, but it sets the starting point in our mind. While perpetual calendars can keep track of the months (and the pesky February) straight for years on end, the Patek Philippe annual calendar needs setting but once per year, when February gives way to March. That style of movement is something that Patek introduced in 1996. So, definitely newer than the perpetual calendar, but something that has had two-and-a-half decades to be refined.

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

For the GMT movement, we would point to 1937, as that is when Patek introduced their first world time watch. Again, though, that’s not quite the same as a GMT movement that introduces an additional hand (world time relies on a disc with 24 hours printed that align to world city names). For a simpler GMT approach — known as Travel Time within the Patek collection — we find ourselves back in 1997, and has subsequently been used in designs like the Aquanaut Travel Time (this is a more recent reference). To that end, we find a delightful bit of happenstance there, with two complications being introduced within a year of each other now coming together.

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

Design Details

If you are familiar with the prior Patek Philippe Travel Time watches, the Patek Philippe Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time will look somewhat familiar, with indications on the dial for day/night at both your local and home time zones, and the GMT hand that takes the same shape as the main hour hand. After that, however, the watch is very much its own. The dial is done in a dark gray that has a very grainy texture, which further reinforces the vintage look that the creamy luminous paint filling the numerals and handset gives. This is set into a 41mm case that has been polished on the lugs and bezels, while a hobnail pattern takes up residence on the sides of the case. The texture provides visual interest, and also allows the four recessed pushers to hide away, furthering the look that the watch is controlled by just the single crown.

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time
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Inner Workings

The movement of the Patek Philippe Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time is more than just simply putting together two different complications. Along with being able to package the components together, the watchmakers had to work out how to cleanly have the parts interact with each other. In practice, this means that the Annual Calendar (and all of its component displays) are driven by the local time on the watch. What this means is that, once you land in your destination, when you correct your timezone, the calendar will also reflect where you are. Written like that, it sounds quite simple; in practice, it was quite a technical challenge for them to overcome.

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

For instance, in a regular annual calendar the date displays normally change at midnight, and could take up to 90 minutes for each component to get to the correct spot. Which means if you landed in that window and wanted to adjust the time, you could end up with some problems. To help address this, the day/month/date changeover was shortened to happen within 18 minutes.

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

This movement — the Patek Philippe caliber 31-260 PS QA LU FUS 24H — also makes for a more user-friendly operation. While you’ll need to use the recessed pushers should you need to adjust the calendar components, adjusting the time is much simpler. Pull the crown to the first position, and you’re setting the local time in 1-hour increments. Fully extend the crown, and you’re adjusting the home time; simplicity at its finest.

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

If you turn the watch over, you’ll see that movement — along with its platinum micro-rotor — through a large exhibition case window. The bridges here spiral out in a manner that reminds us of a fractal pattern, and all elements that you can see are finely finished. While the movement runs at 4Hz, your power reserve is on the lower side, estimated to be between 38 and 48 hours.

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

Versus The Competition

Given that the Patek Philippe Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time is a unique combination of complications, direct analogs are going to be more difficult to come by. If you find yourself leaning more towards the Travel Time capability (and want to stay within the Patek Philippe family), we’d suggest a watch like the Patek Philippe Aquanaut. This presents the same local and home time tracking, along with a simpler date indication in the subdial at 6 o’clock.

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

On the other hand, if it’s the merging of functions that you would not expect to see in a watch, then you could look at the Patek Philippe World Time Chronograph. With this design, not only can you keep an eye on time all around the world, all while keeping tabs on how long ago it was you put the steak on the grill.

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

If you would instead prefer to head outside of the hallowed halls of Patek, we might also suggest the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin. Along with a very slender case, this particular example gives you a calendar — and moonphase — that does not need to be adjusted until the year 2100. That feature, along with lovely blue-and-steel looks, are just some of the many good reasons to have this watch constantly on your wrist. 

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

Personality

If you were to judge the Patek Philippe Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time solely on its looks, how you view nouveau vintage finishes will prejudice how you view the watch. For us, the dial and aged lume hue start to put us in mind of a pilot’s watch, while a closer examination shows a more modern approach hiding there, with the applied indices and heavily textured dial. The movement of the hobnail pattern from the bezel (as was done on the 1985 Patek Philippe Calatrava) to the case sides also gives us that vintage throwback while still moving the piece to the future. In the end, we’d say that this design (technical accomplishments aside) is less a vintage-look watch and more a forward-looking design that gives nods to design elements of the past.

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Patek Philippe 5326G Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time

Final Thoughts

As we were describing the personality, we realized that “hidden” is another good way to think of the Patek Philippe Calatrava Annual Calendar Travel Time. The dial and overall functionality of the watch says, yes, this is a solid, no-nonsense everyday sort of a watch. And yes, it is precisely that. Flip the watch over, and the movement is lovely and well-finished, but nothing seems particularly amiss. It’s when you take a step back and reconsider what that movement is doing, and what it’s indicating up front, that you realize the watchmaking that is hiding in plain sight. For us, that is the best sort of technical accomplishment: something that can get the job done, day after day, while still giving the curious mind something to ponder when it realizes just what, precisely, is going on behind the curtains.

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