Patek Philippe Calatrava - When is less most definitely more.

Posted by Waecce Watches on

Patek Philippe Calatrava - When is less most definitely more. 
How do I own a piece of watch history without breaking the bank?
With its iconic status and minimalist Bauhaus aesthetic the Patek Philippe Calatrava has changed little in appearance since first entering stage left in 1932.
Created by David Penny it encapsulated a move towards a more minimalist style and understated  luxury, forged in the changed landscape and collective conscience of the Great Depression. 
At this time pocket watches were still very popular, and the wrist watch or “wristlet” watches, as they were then still widely referred to, were just coming into their own.
The name Calatrava, is reference to the 12th century Calatrava Knights of Spain and Portugal (and is in keeping with the fact Patek Philippe had already registered the Calatrava cross design as its trademark in 1887).
The original drawing by David Penny below.

So how you do you judge a classic as being a classic? Perhaps the fact the design aesthetic has not changed much in over 90 years is a pointer.

Long and widely regarded as a standard for time-only or time and date only dress watches, the Calatrava was at the spearhead of a new era for Patek Philippe at the time brothers Charles and Jean Stern were at the bridge. The Calatrava was in stark contrast to the earlier exuberant styling of models like the Gondolo and was the watch that many say saved Patek Phillippe from a very uncertain, even precarious position. A true modern classic. Less is more. Form in harmony with function.

Elegant and minimalist and ever popular with multiple generations of discerning watch buyers.

Back in 1932 the company was realising its goal for central seconds. Virtually all movements back then had a subsidiary seconds with the gear train ending at the six o’clock position to drive it.

As well as multiple automatic references there were two quartz references; the 3744 movement (no date, and no second hand) and 3944, with date and second hand.

In the words of Patek Philippe themselves:

“As a pioneering company that always remains faithful to its philosophy of excellence, Patek Philippe was among the very first watchmakers to explore the potential of electronic timekeeping in 1948. It has every reason to be proud of its high-precision quartz movements whose plates, bridges and wheel trains comply with the same high quality standards that apply to its mechanical movements.”

A well made high end quartz movement is a technical feat of modern engineering and every bit as intricate as its manual wind counterpart.

Patek Philippe Caliber e23sc


In other words there are quartz watches and quartz watches. Think Rolex Oysterquartz, Cartier’s high efficiency quartz movements, and the Grand Seiko Sport GMT SBGN023 with its 9F movement.

The Calatrava is considered by many to be timeless, understated perfection. 

So how do you avoid paying $642,000 dollars for one as did the buyer in New York at auction in May 2018 (with a Tiffany signed dial). Well, you set your sights nearer to home and have a long look at the example we are lucky enough to have on offer.

The example we have on offer dates from c1985, which is the year the 3944J reference was launched. It benefits from being housed in an 18ct yellow gold case and having the “Clous de Paris” signature hobnail bezel, and original Patek Philippe crown. An elegant and timeless edition to any collection or a very special gift for a loved one.



18ct Gold Calatrava Ref 3944J on offer from Waecce

At less than £6,000 we believe it’s a golden opportunity (excuse the pun) to acquire a piece of watch making history, that will still look good when it’s passed on, as Patek Philippe are so fond of saying, to the next generation.

You can view and purchase the Watch: here