‘Pink on Pink’ 96 Patek Philippe Calatrava
When asked by journalist how he might go about uniting France in wartime, Charles de Gaulle famously replied, ‘How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?’ His response perfectly encompasses how I feel about the Patek Philippe Calatrava, a fundamentally good thing which has endured the inevitable slide toward decadence through proliferation. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of varieties. My friend Tony has mentioned that he might try and bring together a reference points on the matter. I would encourage this effort, as it would be extremely arduous and make my life much easier with literally no work. Until then, I’m just going to recommend everyone buy a ref. 96, the paired-back, bold, aged gruyère of three-handers.
The gruyère metaphor actually runs pretty deep. It’s been made since the 12th century, is simple on the surface, and is a neutral palette that can be aged and altered in a variety of manners. Gruyère can go in fondue or be aged in a cave and sold at $100 per pound, depending on how hard you want to go. This pink on pink 96 is definitively the latter, an exercise in restraint and minimalism, elevated through choice of materials. And it’s unarguably the quintessential 31mm dress watch today.
The 96 was a Bauhaus-influenced wristwatch for an era when wristwatches weren’t actually all that common. It was introduced by brothers Jean and Charles-Henri Stern after purchasing a controlling interest in Patek. The model was aimed to revitalize their dress line and that it did. The 96 was offered in yellow, pink, and white gold, platinum, and steel. While steel is probably universally the most desirable in Patek for rarity, pink on pink is right up there. After this start of the Calatrava Patek branched out endlessly in design and materials. I wasn’t exaggerating, there may be thousands of iterations. But I quite like where it started, here: an elevated take on the the very essence of what is needed to make a wristwatch, nothing more. With some fancy material choice and dry cave ageing (probably).
The dial on this example is great. The text is just slightly raised but all is as it should be. The case has been worn but retains sharp lugs and deep hallmarks. It comes from a well-regarded Shanghai retailer.
Find this PInk on Pink 96 here from Woohoo Time for 27300 USD.