Patek Philippe Debuts A Rugged Pilotís Watch Thatís Anything But Precious

And it's wrist-friendly.

BY Stephen Watson | Oct 17, 2017 | Feature

There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots,” the saying goes. It’s not quite true. Patek Philippe has two in its archives—striking pilot’s watches from the ’30s (one of these was showcased at Patek’s Art of Watches exhibition in New York). Now you can get the next best thing: the Ref.5522A, a limited-edition stainless-steel timepiece inspired by the vintage originals.

The first pilot’s watches were essentially oversized tool watches, a design that falls outside Patek’s dressier métier. But early reviews suggest there’s a big luxury market for a less-than-dressy watch. The Ref.5522A brings a contemporary American sensibility to those ’30s pilots: the original 56mm case has been reduced to a more wrist-friendly 42mm and paired with a rugged brown leather strap. Arabic numerals and baton-style hands also recall the original models, while a new navy-blue dial matches the colour of fighter planes from the same period.

There’s more to that old quote (from pilot E Hamilton Lee): “Never be too proud to turn back.” In Patek’s case, there’s no shame in building on past successes—it’s the brand’s boldest move in a very long time.

This article was first published in the print edition of Esquire Singapore, October 2017.