A Happy Medium

One of the newest pilot’s watches around is now also the most popular. This year’s version is one of its most versatile.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

One of the newest pilot’s watches around is now also the most popular. This year’s version is one of its most versatile.

The world’s most established watch brands can credit their longevity to playing to their strengths. That usually involves expanding on collections that sell well. Patek Philippe has successfully applied this strategy to pillars like the Calatrava and Nautilus, so it was a little surprising when it released the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, its first serially produced pilot’s watch, in 2015.

When the original Ref. 5524G Calatrava Pilot was launched, it was such a hit that the brand soon followed on with a rose gold version, a time-only model and even a reference with an alarm function.

At the Watch Art Grand Exhibition held in Singapore last year, it released the collection’s first steel version: the Ref. 7234A. This 37.5mm comes after the rose gold edition launched in 2018.

Now, Patek Philippe introduces the Ref. 7234G – in white gold with a navy dial. It's a smaller version of the 41mm Ref. 5524G. Recognising the growing desire among male buyers for smaller timepieces, the brand is positioning the novelty as a happy middle for both genders. Everything else about it is familiar. The same automatic calibre 324 SC FUS provides the time, date, second time zone and day/night indicators. What’s more, this isn’t a limited edition, making it an easy luxury sports watch to add to your collection.

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The Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour Le Merite” was the star of A. Lange & Sohne’s 2017 novelties and, indeed, one of the most spectacular watches to debut at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie that year. It was a combination of a split-seconds chronograph, tourbillon and an ultra-precise moon phase that also enjoyed a fusee-and-chain transmission for added accuracy.

Such extraordinary watchmaking deserves an encore, and it has returned as part of a commemorative trio of watches to celebrate the brand’s 175 years in Saxony, this time in the proprietary honey gold. Now known as the Tourbograph Perpetual Honeygold “Homage to F.A. Lange”, the 43mm timepiece is encased in Lange’s exclusive gold alloy, typically reserved only for its most distinguished models, and features a dark, grained rhodium dial. The bridges on the calibre L133.1 are rendered in a similar gold shade with inscriptions in matching rhodium. Limited to 50 pieces.

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Last year marked the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the first spaceflight to land humans on the moon. Apollo 13, the seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space programme, celebrates its 50th this year. Both momentous events are dear to Omega as it provided its Speedmaster watches for those historic missions, which is why collectors have had a ball collecting limited-edition Speedmaster Moonwatches in recent times. 

The latest is the Speedmaster "Silver Snoopy Award" 50th Anniversary. More surprising is the fact that it’s neither limited nor dissimilar to previous Silver Snoopy editions with the canine icon also appearing on one of the chronograph subdials. This reference is distinguished by white and blue livery as well as an animated caseback that has Snoopy travelling in a Command and Service Module (CSM), thanks to its attachment to the chronograph’s seconds hand.

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It’s been a decade since tennis star Rafael Nadal teamed up with Richard Mille to make watches of increasing lightness and toughness. The RM 27-04 Tourbillon Rafael Nadal is a culmination of all their past efforts. Weighing in at an unbelievable 30g – including the strap – the RM 27-04 shows off its skeletonised movement through a tennis racquet-inspired lattice held in place by gold-coated titanium hooks. Contributing to its (lack of) weight is a case made of TitaCarb, a carbon composite consisting of 38.5 percent carbon fibre. It looks slightly precarious, but the watch can resist shocks and forces up to 12,000Gs – a new record for the brand. Only 50 pieces were made and you'll have to fork over a cool US$1.05 million (S$1.4 million) for one.