Sometimes the most basic things in life are the most beautiful.

Patek Philippe’s Calatrava 5196 does not have a chronograph, a perpetual calendar, or even a date function. Yet, it exudes the same attention to detail as the most complicated timepieces in the collection. It has the understated elegance that Patek Philippe timepieces are world-renowned for, in the purest form — as a manual wind, time-only wristwatch.

Patek Philippe Calatrava 5196G

Reference 5196, which was introduced in 2004, is the predecessor to the Calatrava Ref. 96 (first introduced in 1932). It’s considerably larger than the original Calatrava (which was 31 mm), yet it’s still sleek at 37 mm by 8 mm. And while it does not utilize the same case or movement as Ref. 96, it does have similar dauphine shaped hands, faceted and polished applied indexes and tiny polished dots that make up the minute ring. Further, while the small seconds display originally had a defined circular ring around it, the current version has an even cleaner look with no ring.

Patek Philippe Calatrava 5196G

An 18K white gold case, which is polished on the top and the crown, with satin-finished sides, is particularly striking with the silvery-gray dial. The time is easy to read — even though everything is in white gold — thanks to the contrast between the polished hands and markers, and the satin-finished dial.

Patek Philippe Calatrava 5196G wristshot

A slightly domed sapphire crystal protects the front. While the case back is in solid white gold, which has been satin finished, and that has no markings. Concealed underneath, is caliber 215 PS, a hand-wound movement that beats at 4Hz, has non-hacking small seconds, a 44-hour power reserve, 130 total components, and is stamped with the prestigious Patek Philippe Seal.

Patek Philippe Calatrava 5196G crownshot

The Patek Philippe Calatrava reference 5196G-001 is paired with a glossy clear lacquer black alligator strap and a white gold pin buckle. Retail is $23,600. In today’s always-connected world, something as simple as reading just the time — with no interference — is so refreshing.

Posted by:Jason Pitsch

Jason is the founder of Professional Watches and specializes in writing about and photographing timepieces.