Continuing my quest for the perfect Patek Philippe Calatrava, I turn to the other main branch of the family. In 1973, Patek Philippe added “Clous de Paris” guilloche to the bezel of a straight-lug Calatrava and a new legend was born. Today, many people think of this Ref. 3520 rather than the clean, flowing original when they hear the name. But is this the perfect Calatrava?
Calatrava “Clous de Paris” Automatic, Ref. 5120
My desire for an automatic movement and a display back makes me skip many worthy references, including lots of Clous de Paris Calatravas1. But it does leave the door open to Ref. 5120, a wonderfully-wearable example of the “hobnail” offshoot line, with a thin and light 35 mm case. It comes equipped with Patek Philippe’s excellent micro-rotor Cal. 240. Apart from lacking any seconds hand at all, it’s almost perfect.
There are quite a few Ref. 5120’s for sale at any time. I picked this one because it was in good condition, came with box and papers, and is listed well below the others for €12,500 (about $13,650) from a private seller on Chrono24. It’s poorly photographed, and that gives pause, but it looks like the real deal.
Calatrava “Clous de Paris” and Enamel Ref. 5116
Another option is the modern Ref. 5119, which does have a display back to show its hand-wound movement. But I’d pick the similar Ref. 5116, which is differentiated by an enamel dial. If you love the “hobnail” Calatrava and are happy with a hand-wound movement, Ref. 5116 is the one to get!
I located an excellent Ref. 5116 at European Watch Company in Boston for $17,900. It’s a complete set in perfect condition with box and papers dated July 2013. That’s almost $10k off retail!
My Quest Continues
I love these watches, and they’d make someone an excellent life-long dress companion. But I asked for the perfect Calatrava and these hobnail watches just aren’t that. Plus, neither combines my ideals: Small seconds and an automatic movement. Next, my quest takes me into the rarified space of the fabulous Ref. 5227!
- Even Patek Philippe uses the term, “hobnail”, today, but “Clous de Paris” is the original name ↩