It’s the big name in watches, one of the most well-respected manufactures of our time, Patek Philippe. Still, a family owned business, Patek Philippe makes some of the most exquisite, most luxurious and most expensive watches around. It’s said that there’s nothing they can’t do in the world of watches, but they choose not to do most things based on their history and their reputation with the elite clientele that can afford them. They perhaps do not have the raw passion for their watches in the same way A.Lange & Söhne does, and they do not have the expansive history of Breguet, but everyone who knows a bit of watches knows of Patek, and most have them on their grail list.
5. Calatrava 5119G-001
This teeny weeny (at least for me) dress watch comes in at number 5 today thanks to its hobnail guilloché bezel and classy manual winding movement. At 36mm in diameter, it might seem small to some, but this is often regarded as the perfect size for a dress watch. I’m undeterred by this and like the watch simply for what it is, even if it’s a little too small for me. White gold is pretty much the best way for this watch to be, it’s a neutral colour on the wrist and more modern and chic than rose or yellow gold. The movement inside the watch has been awarded the Seal of Patek Philippe which, at least in our eyes, doesn’t mean a lot as it’s something no one else can attain for their watches. Still, it means the Patek watch you have has passed all the quality controls inside the manufacture. I must admit though, I don’t think much of the leather strap.
4. Complications 5960/1A-001 Steel
I’ve worn this one for a bit, at least, on the metal bracelet. It’s a highly polished piece, one that will stand out a mile away thanks to the white lacquer dial and that multilink bracelet where, unlike the famous Jubilee bracelet from Rolex, every single link is polished to a mirror, meaning the wearer must be brave not only because of its sheer value but also the fact that it is inherently a magnet for all manner of scuffs and scratches. I like the fact that they squeezed in an automatic winding flyback chronograph and an annual calendar into the watch without overlapping a million subdials into one confusing mess. Giving the calendar windows instead leaves room for the eye to distinguish shapes more easily, and that little power reserve indicator too, I like that.
3. Complications 5131R-011
Known to most simply as the Patek Philippe World Time, this watch makes it onto the list simply because, well, look at it, right? I’m sorry but you can’t help but like this watch, it just looks the absolute part with the world map in the centre of the dial and the oversized Breguet style hour hand. Put into simple terms, this watch just pops. The watch is able to show both time and day/night indications in al 24 timezones around the world, making it the ultimate travel companion. Once set up, it’s all then controlled by the single pusher at 10 O’clock, which allows the wearer to advance the time zones and set the day/night indicators simultaneously. It’s also automatic with a 22K gold micro rotor providing something exquisite to look at.
This, the quintessential dress watch for the modern man. The Calatrava is one of those watches that everyone aspires to at some point in their life, even if they will never be able to afford one or simply lose interest in it. Sure, other manufactures can do some parts better, but there’s nothing quite like this one, my favourite of the Calatrava line. It’s sleeker and more modern than the 5119G I spoke about earlier, with a thicker case, cleaner design overall and an automatic winding movement, it could be a daily wear if you are careful enough. We also like the hidden hunter caseback which adds to the design and allows for more space to engrave. This could well be the ultimate Patek Philippe, it could well be.
1. Nautilus 5990/1A-001
Our top choice for Patek Philippe comes in the form of the Nautilus 5990, or to everyone else, the Nautilus Chronograph Travel Time. Sure, it’s not the thinnest, the most robust or the most practical watch in Patek’s arsenal, but we love it because of how it looks both on and off the wrist. On the wrist, it’s quite large, it stands tall and proud, the bracelet seems to melt into your wrist as you basically cannot feel it. Off the wrist it is equally impressive to behold. All four pushers are very smooth and so easy to use, it’s entirely possible to forget how complex it is in that 40.5mm case given how simple the dial layout is. Pro tip: If you are new to the Patek Nautilus and you are graduating from the likes of Rolex or Omega or some such, you may wish to get a leather strap as the steel bracelet, particularly on this watch, feels very light indeed, almost hollow. That said, it’s a hell of a good looking bracelet, and one that’s right at home on this watch.