The wait had become very long and watch enthusiasts were impatient. The health context and the cancellation of the 2020 edition of Baselworld had prevented Patek Philippe from presenting any new product since the start of the year. And then on June 18 came the Calatrava 6007A-001. I imagine that other novelties will be unveiled during the year at a pace that only the Geneva brand knows. However, this Calatrava is already an important event for three main reasons. First of all, its case is made of steel. Then it is released in the context of a limited edition of 1,000 pieces. And finally, it embodies a new stylistic approach which provides indications on the brand's strategic directions.
The Calatrava 6007A-001 commemorates the completion of the new production building of the Patek Philippe Manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates, which explains the limited edition. In fact, the words "New Manufacture 2019" are written on the glass on the back of the watch. 2019 ... and not 2020: given the context, it was better to rely on 2019, what is ultimately fun for a watch that comes out at the end of the first half of 2020. But I can't blame Patek Philippe because everyone will want to forget any detail which will remind us the year 2020 afterwards.
What is interesting to note is that the size of the limited edition is important (1,000 pieces) and that Patek Philippe has chosen a simple watch (hours, minutes, date) with a steel case, all for a price lying in the lower range of the brand: 25,720 euros. There was therefore a clear desire to make this watch "accessible" to the greatest number of fans of the brand while retaining a strong appeal linked to the rare use of steel. In fact, I consider this Calatrava as a strategic watch. Given its rather casual style accentuated by the calfskin strap with a technical texture, it aims to dust off the image of the Calatrava collection. Patek Philippe's great strength is to know how to manage its catalog. Today the brand has only one obsession: that of reducing the influence of the Nautilus to avoid ending up in a situation of dependence. But it also knows very well that the tastes of customers are changing with their lifestyles. Work from home and the "New Way of Working" are developing and the time spent with a suit tends to be reduced significantly. I also live this experience: I spend a lot more time today with sneakers on my feet, including in a professional context than 5 years ago. And this has an impact on our watch purchases: the traditional dress watch with a leather strap responds less to the characteristics of our lifestyles and we are now more interested in versatile, more casual watches. So how can Patek Philippe meet this demand while giving weight to the Calatrava collection? Well, by energizing it and making it less formal. The Calatrava 6007A-001 is in my opinion a response to this ambition.
Obviously, it was not for Patek Philippe to distort the Calatrava and certain criteria of elegance had to be respected. Besides the reference 6007A-001 remains in known territory: the diameter of 40mm is the same as that of the case of the other recent Calatrava in steel, the 5212A. On the other hand, this diameter is a millimeter larger than that of the case of the 6006G or the 5227. And a millimeter in diameter can significantly modify the size perception.
It is especially the stylistic atmosphere that changes. The Calatrava 6007A-001 offers a traditional dial organization (peripheral scale, row of numerals, inner graduation and decorated central area) but with a resolutely contemporary approach. The applied numerals and hands are luminescent which may surprise for such a watch and the dial uses a palette of "blue-gray" colors which I find refined, attractive and above all very "up to date". The other detail which energizes the dial is the decoration of the central zone which uses a "carbon" type motif, making it a sort of checkered pattern with two different intensities. This theme has already been used by Patek Philippe in the past with two watches presented in the context of Only Watch: with the 5004T but in this case the motif was used on the entire dial and with the 5208T whose central decoration is closer to the Calatrava 6007A-001 pattern. Close in spirit but not in execution since the central area of the 5208T was engraved while the Calatrava one is embossed.
I consider the Calatrava 6007A-001 dial to be its strong point. I really liked the colors range, the applied numbers and the different textures and undoubtedly the rendering is much more energetic with a sporty touch while remaining elegant. In addition, the dial is anything but flat: the flange is slightly inclined, the numerals bring their subtle relief effect and the central area contributes to this feeling. On the other hand, I would have much preferred this watch without the date display which seems totally superfluous to me and which breaks the pretty succession of applied numerals. For a limited edition, I think it would have been better to do without it and it would have also made it possible to silence criticisms of the resemblance of this Calatrava with certain Memovox / Amvox by reinforcing its own identity which is nevertheless real.
The two main hands are extremely legible and their bâton (stick in French) shape is adapted to the aesthetics of the dial. The central second hand is also welcome in this more relaxed style.
The steel case is hardly surprising, but it is very well made with very fluid lines, giving the watch a slender look. The watch is rather thin with a thickness of 9.07mm which makes it very comfortable to wear. I think Patek Philippe has found a good balance. The high ratio between diameter and thickness accentuates the perceived size while the thickness of the bezel controls it. This is the reason why, beyond the diameter that we can qualify today as standard, the Calatrava 6007A-001 can be worn by both men and women without worry. The lugs seem long but they are fortunately well curved and the bracelet, very flexible, is located very close to the case. The watch is thus suitable for all wrists and is worn with great comfort.
The Calatrava 6007A-001 is powered by the well-known 324SC caliber. I must admit that on this point, I am a little surprised. I would have waited, even hoped, for Patek Philippe to use the latest 26-330SC movement in the context of a commemorative watch which celebrates the new production building. I find that the symbol would have been strong and would have perfectly supported the message. Afterwards, I understand that as this is a new movement, Patek Philippe prefers to reserve it at this stage for watches with more limited production than with this 1,000 piece reference. Thus, the technical features of the movement are not surprising: the caliber 324 SC offers a power reserve of around forty hours for a 4hz frequency. Its presentation is identical to what we know very well with a gold winding mass adorned with a Calatrava Cross.
The caseback is transparent which allows to appreciate the caliber. And here I address my main criticism about this watch. Beyond the fact that clients already know the caliber 324SC by heart, I think that a solid caseback with an engraved message would have been much more elegant and suitable than the inscription on the glass. Admittedly the visual rendering of the back is better in real life than on the press pictures. But the words and the immense Calatrava Cross annoy more than anything else and you give the opportunity to observe the movement, you might as well do it without constraint. The solution implemented disappointed me and I think there was better to do.
I know very well that this will not prevent this Calatrava from meeting with great success and the number of requests already greatly exceeds the 1,000 pieces. But Patek Philippe is for me the reference in the segment and I am still expecting from them the most elegant, flawless solutions to be used.
I don't forget, however, that the objective pursued by Patek Philippe has been achieved. The watch is very comfortable on the wrist and the sport / chic atmosphere works very well thanks to the color reflections and the subtle reliefs of the dial. Even if the waterproofness is modest (30 meters), the Calatrava has a versatile design that makes it easy to wear in all circumstances. This precise point is important because Patek Philippe really wanted to take the Calatrava collection out of a kind of niche in which it risked locking itself. In a sense, the reference 5212A-001 initiated this move.
But the ambition assigned to the Calatrava 6007A-001 may be broader. It also aims to rejuvenate the image of Patek Philippe. I almost wrote "to renew the clientele" but I changed my mind. Because this watch, like the Lange & Söhne Odysseus , can be presented as having this objective but let's stop dreaming: allocations will be given in priority and not to say exclusively for the loyal customers of the brand. How could it be otherwise? In the end, there will be no new customers for Patek Philippe in the same way that Lange & Söhne will not have new customers with the steel Odysseus, at least in the early days. On the other hand, it is a means of capturing attention and arousing interest among an audience distant from the brands. Unfortunately, new customers are primarily interested in the iconic / most appealing pieces and if at the end of the day, they can't access what they are looking for, they will leave as quickly as they came. This is the challenge today for a brand like Patek Philippe: succeeding in renewing its customers base without disappointing loyal customers. Balance can be difficult to find, but in a way, everything will depend on whether this Calatrava foreshadows a more marked stylistic orientation or not. If it anticipates future watches in the permanent collection that will have the same spirit, this renewal can take place. Otherwise, it will have had a nice dust extracting role without any concrete impact on the structure of the clientele.
+ a versatile watch from an aesthetic point of view
+ the very pretty dial colors
+ the subtle relief effects
+ the comfort on the wrist
- a date window which is useless in this context
- the limited edition message on the glass: a solid engraved caseback would have been much more elegant
- the use of the caliber 26-330SC would have been welcome in the context of the celebration of the new building