When Patek Philippe launched the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time (Ref. 5524G) in 2015, nobody knew what to make of it. Here was a vintage aviator-styled timepiece that didn’t exactly fit in with the rest of its brethren in the Patek family.
But it didn’t take long for the watch fraternity to realise that being different wasn’t all bad, and the 5524G quickly became a firm favourite. So much so that it even spawned a (smaller) women’s version last year. It’s known as a women’s piece, but really, the 37.5mm case (compared to the original 42mm) would look just as good on a slim-built man’s wrist.
Riding on the 5524G’s popularity, Patek is now introducing the 5520P, the Alarm Travel Time. Adding a mechanical alarm wasn’t so easy, though; the watchmaker had to engineer a new movement that integrates this function. And it took five years of R&D to accomplish. But accomplish it did, and how accomplished it is: The new calibre has four patents pending.
What makes the 5520P so impressive is the quality of its alarm. The alarm is sounded by a hammer and gong, and has a silent governor – components typically found in high-end minute repeaters, not mechanical alarm watches. This puts it on par with Patek’s repeaters, which are universally recognised as one of, if not the best, in the industry.
In terms of construction, the gong is attached to the platinum case, not the movement, so as to amplify the sound. The alarm time is indicated in two small windows under the ’12’. A tiny bell symbol above those windows lets you know whether or not the alarm has been set – white for ‘on’ and black for ‘off’. Beneath the windows, a dot signals whether the alarm is set for AM or PM – white denotes daytime (6am to 6pm) while blue denotes nighttime.
How do you set the alarm? Well, first you give it some juice. The mechanism comes with its own barrel – i.e. its own power source, separate from the one that keeps the timekeeping function humming along. Wind it up via the crown at 4 o’clock. Then, using the same crown, set the alarm time in 15-minute increments. Finally, use the crown at 2 o’clock to activate or deactivate the alarm. (There’s a bell symbol on this crown in case you forget which one to use).
The travel time function is just as easy to use. The skeleton hand shows the home time, while two dots (one at 3.30 and another at 8.30) indicate whether its day or night in your current location and at home. To adjust the local time, use the crown at 8 o’clock to advance the solid hand clockwise in one-hour jumps, and the crown at 10 o’clock to move it in the opposite direction. Again, there are “+” and “-” symbols on the crowns, lest you forget.