On the subject of unusual Patek Philippe Calatrava references, may I present a very unusual sculpted model: Ref. 5090J from about 2000, also called the “Russian Watch” due to its limited production for that market. I found two examples of this unusual reference for sale, so I thought I would take a moment to talk about it.
The Patek Philippe Calatrava name originally stood for Bauhaus simplicity, where form followed function. The case was round because the movement and gears are round, and that’s how the hands moved. The lugs flowed into the case with minimum fuss because that’s how the case was constructed. The Calatrava is almost a tool watch, if the job at hand is telling the time in an elegant manner.
This isn’t that kind of Calatrava.
The “Russian Watch” stands out from every other reference in the 85 year history of the nameplate with its flamboyant crown, sculpted lugs, fussy strap, and delicate dial. Just look at this thing! Does that say “Calatrava” to you?
To my eyes, it’s the crown that is most attention-grabbing. If any watch part ever deserved to be called a crown, this is it. There’s blue enamel in there. It looks like something from Fabergé, which is apropos in a Russian-market watch.1
The yellow gold case is about as complex as you’ll find at Patek Philippe, with multiple contours and flowing lines. Then there’s the lugs, which actually do have some similarity to Ref. 1491 and Ref. 2592 but mostly look like a duck’s feet. A very beautiful duck’s feet. But still a duck.
The movement is the acceptable if not exciting automatic Cal. 315/190, but no one buying this watch cares about that. They care about the impact of an amazing, sculpted Calatrava like no other.
As mentioned, I found two examples of this reference for sale:
- East Coast Jewelry of Miami has this amazing white-dial example listed for $23,500 with box and papers. That’s the one to buy.
- Essential Watches of Beverly Hills has a (boring) black-dial example listed at $25,500 (wire) with box but not papers. Maybe it’s just photographed badly, but I wouldn’t even have noticed this if it wasn’t for the white dial one above.
- Incidentally, Fabergé was re-unified in 2007 and has restarted “haute” jewelry and watch construction ↩