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Review: Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 6006G

Hands-on analytical review with high resolution live photographs.
by Frank Chuo on June 12, 2017

Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 6006G

It all started when Patek Philippe presented the Ref. 5000 featuring a seconds sub-dial between 4 and 5 o’clock. One might think that in 1991, a watch with such an unorthodox design would be shunned. Fortunately for Patek, that was not the case, as the distinctive Ref. 5000 was well-received and in fact, sold well. Inspired by this, Patek Philippe then released the Ref. 6000 in 2005 which borrowed designed cues heavily from its predecessor but with the added functionality of a radial date display. The Ref. 6000 was also up-sized from the Ref. 5000 (33 to 37 mm) to suit the size preference of the noughties. Now, in 2017, Patek Philippe has unveiled what will soon replace the Ref. 6000: the Ref. 6006G. Here, we bring you the details and our thoughts on the new Calatrava Ref. 6006G.

 

The case, dial, and hands

Just as the Ref. 6000 grew from the Ref. 5000 to get with the times, the incoming Ref. 6006G that will be taking on the mantle from the Ref. 6000 has also been enlarged by 2 mm to a more modern 39 mm in diameter. While there may be gnashing of teeth amongst traditionalist enthusiasts, we feel that this increase in size is most appropriate (and diplomatic). It ensures that the watch does not become a proverbial shrinking violet on the wrist while still maintaining an elegant dress profile. The dressiness of the watch is further enhanced by the fact that it is only 8.84 mm in thickness. In this era of increasingly oversized dress watches (a bit of an oxymoron there), the restrained 39 x 8.84 mm size of the Ref. 6006G is a breath of fresh air. Rendered in white gold, the case is somewhat utilitarian albeit beautifully polished. The generously domed bezel allows a dress cuff or a tight sleeve to easily ride up and over the flank of the case, permitting the watch to fulfil its purpose as a dress piece unhindered.

 

The case diameter of the Ref. 6006G is 39 mm, 2 mm more than its predecessor. Even then, the watch remains complementary and not overbearing on the gentleman’s wrist.

 

What really sets the Ref. 6006G apart from its Calatrava brethren is its dial design. The Calatrava has, for a long time, been viewed as the Patek Philippe flagship as well as a paragon of tradition and elegance. The Ref. 6006G (as well as its predecessors) does without the playbook and opts for a largely contemporary dial design with its two-tone graphic concept, bold Arabic numerals, inboard minute track and off-centre seconds sub-dial. Breaking off from tradition inevitably resigns this reference to a “love it, hate it” relationship with collectors and enthusiasts. What we were most impressed by on the dial was the variety of surface finish present that would probably go unappreciated by the uninitiated. The centre of the dial where the company marquee sits is black and glistens with its sunburst finish, while the silvery minute track is intricately guilloched. The outer edge of the dial is black as well but has two different textures: the date circle has a sunburst pattern, the hour circle has (very) fine guilloche. The silver seconds sub-dial that dwells in the 4 and 5 o’clock position also features a concentric guilloche pattern and is suitably indicated by a black stick hand for maximum contrast.

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The number of different finishes expertly applied to the dial is impressive, even if it can only be fully appreciated under a loupe. In fine watchmaking, detail is king.

 

The most notable differences between the new Ref. 6006G and the old Ref. 6000 (apart from size) are found on the hour, minute and date hands. In the outgoing Ref. 6000, the white-lacquered, baton-style hour and minute hands are fine and solid, and the date hand tipped with a red crescent. Meanwhile, in the novel Ref. 6006G, the hour and minute hands have been enlarged but also hollowed so as to not be overbearing; the date hand is now tipped with a red arrow instead. Overall, we believe that the subtle aesthetic changes implemented on the Ref. 6006G are positive and complementary.

 

The new hands on the Ref. 6006G suits the look that the watch is going for – modern and a little bit playful.

The movement

Inside the Ref. 6006G beats the Calibre 240 PS C, which is based off of the legendary Calibre 240. This year, the Calibre 240, whose career began in 1977 when it was tasked to power the ultra-thin Ref. 3738 Golden Ellipse, celebrates its 40th anniversary. The Calibre 240 PS C retains the original DNA of the base movement but has, in many ways, been optimised. The movement still beats at a stately 3 Hz but now with the manufacturer’s patented Spiromax balance spring and signature free-sprung Gyromax balance. A 22 karat gold, unidirectional micro-rotor winds the 191-part, 27-jewel movement to provide a maximum of 48 hours power reserve. The view of the Calibre 240 PS C from the case back is satisfying. The polished bevels on the bridges feature a multitude of sensuously rounded angles that are pleasing to the eyes. They do however lack interior angles, which require a higher level of dexterity and skill to create. On the surface, the bridges are textured with Côtes de Genève and decorated with the company marquee and the Patek Philippe Seal by means of gold-filled engravings. The recessed micro-rotor is also finished with Côtes de Genève and embellished with an engraved Calatrava cross, the brand’s logo. Also worth mentioning is that the Calibre 240 PS C is precise and has a rate tolerance of between -3 and +2 seconds per day. After all, what use is an attractively decorated movement if it doesn’t keep good time? Overall, the Calibre 240 PS C is a reliable movement with quality albeit no-frills finish that continues to do the true and tested Calibre 240 proud.

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The Calibre 240 PS C is beautifully finished in accordance to the standards dictated by the Patek Philippe Seal.

The competitive landscape

The price for the new Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 6006G in white gold is USD30,619. The ransom is steep for such a simple piece but is typical of what the brand charges for similar watches. With respect to the design of the timepiece, it is quite simple: you either love it or hate it, as mentioned earlier. Many will undoubtedly opine that the Ref. 6006G and its ‘avant-garde’ design taints the heritage and dignity of the Calatrava line. On the other hand, those who aren’t afraid to make hamburgers out of a sacred cow welcome the modern take on the Calatrava. We at Deployant are on the fence on this matter. We feel that there is nothing wrong in having a spirit of adventure when it comes to watch design, even for old maisons like Patek Philippe. However, the design of the Ref. 6006G (and the Ref. 6000 before it) does come off as a little too eccentric for the brand – the watch would in fact look more at home in a Nomos catalogue. Make no mistake, the Ref. 6006G is still objectively a finely crafted timepiece. But its dial design will continue fuel arguments for years to come.

 

The Ref. 6006G is a departure from what the Calatrava is normally about – old-school elegance. Dial design notwithstanding, the Ref. 6006G remains a timepiece of great quality.

 

It is nearly impossible to find another timepiece that is absolutely comparable to the Ref. 6006G, what with its off centre seconds sub-dial, hollowed hands and radial date display. We did, however, find two 2017 novelties that will indubitably challenge the new Calatrava for the hard-earned coin of watch collectors. The first candidate is the new Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date, a watch that is similar yet different to the Ref. 6006G in many ways. Look at the dial of the Master Control Date and you will notice that it too has hollowed hands, Arabic numerals in similar font, and a dial of multiple sections and types of finish. Indeed the Master Control Date has hollowed syringe-style hands and a two-toned dial whereby the outer section in silver is circular grained while the white inner section is matte. It has a date function as well, although in the more conventional form of a date disc displayed via an aperture at 3 o’clock. The Jaeger-LeCoultre novelty also has a central seconds function instead of small seconds. The finishing on the Master Control Date, movement or otherwise, is attractive but not outstanding. It does not hold a candle to the meticulous and superlative finish of a timepiece that bears the Patek Philippe Seal. However, it must be said that this is all fine, especially given that the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control Date in stainless steel is only USD5,700 – more than 5 times less than the price of the Ref. 6006G. What the Master Control Date offers that the Ref. 6006G cannot is value for money. The reworked dial design of the Master Control Date has received unanimous praise and also gets our seal of approval. On the flip side, what the Ref. 6006G offers that the Master Control Date can’t is high horology finish and craftsmanship, which understandably accounts for a notable proportion of the timepiece’s heavy price tag.

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The Master Control Date represents ultimate value. Its dial design is cohesive and attractive, and the movement is very reliable. The finishing may not be awe-inspiring but is still attractive given the watch’s price point.

 

A bit further up the ladder, we have another Baselworld 2017 release that can also be considered somewhat eccentric, although in a more universally palatable form: the Breguet Classique 7147. Much like the Ref. 6006G, the Classique 7147 has an off-centre small seconds at 5 o’clock. But instead of a regular sub-dial, the small seconds hand dwells within a ‘dimple’ on the single-piece grand feu enamel dial that traces the shape of a sub-dial! The black painted Breguet numerals, fleur de lys and asterisk markers around the dial are what can only be described as quaint while maintaining an air of class. Needless to say, the heat-blued steel, open-tipped hour and minute hands and the ornately counter-weighted, stick-style seconds hand are a delightful sight as well. Flip the watch over to its back and one’s attention will immediately be drawn towards the guilloched micro-rotor (less ‘micro’ than the one in the Patek though) that winds the movement. While the movement finishing in the Classique 7147 is better than that in the Master Control Date, it is still somewhat lacking compared to the Ref. 6006G. But for USD21,000, or USD9,000 less than the Patek Philippe, it may well be a fair trade off, especially when the front of the house is luscious grand feu enamel. In short, we prefer the dial of the Classique 7147 but the movement of the Ref. 6006G.

 

If you look closely, you will see the dimple at 5 o’clock that forms the seconds sub-dial. The blued hands contrast spectacularly against the pristine white enamel dial.

Concluding thoughts

Being the quirkiest of the Calatravas, the Patek Philippe Ref. 6006G will no doubt be very polarising as its predecessor was. What everyone will agree on, though, is the quality of the timepiece. The Ref. 6006G is powered by a movement that is as reliable as it is well-finished, though the same could probably be said of all current Patek Philippe timepieces. With the new Ref. 6006G, Patek Philippe continues to sustain its iconic Calatrava line while showing that it is not averse to going off the beaten path.

 

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