It never serves to be complacent. As much as Rolex or Omega, Patek Philippe is a Baselworld stalwart and is as protective of its ‘novelties’ as any. Moreover, Patek Philippe is as conservative and ultra-Swiss as any brand can be, so sneak previews are not expected. And yet, for 2018, the Grand Lady of Geneva has used social media to drive enthusiasts to check the health of their bank statements.

There’s something else about Patek Philippe that one shouldn’t take for granted, which is the assumption that the aforementioned conservatism defines them. For years, the company resisted producing facsimiles of certain museum pieces which were out of character for the brand, the Calatrava Pilot Travel Time Ref 5524 watches that stole the show in 2015. Inspired by navigators’ models in their museum, they proved divisive.

Tool watches are not a Patek Philippe forte, but these managed to transcend the criticisms in the same manner that the Nautilus showed how the company could produce a sport watch in steel and create a cult. (This year ought to see hot new Nautilus and Aquanaut models, which have become perennials for Patek.) But so in demand are the Calatrava Pilots models, they can command a premium over list price. 

Rendering of the Patek Philippe stand at Baselworld 2018 © Patek Philippe

For 2018, the existing 42mm white gold model will be joined by a rose gold version with brown dial and – more earth-shattering for PP-watchers – a version for the ladies, the Ref. 7234R sized at 37.5mm. Also fitted with the self-winding cal. 324 S C FUS movement, the smaller watch is, ironically, the same size as a typical man’s watch of 20 years ago. Which makes it more ‘unisex’ than simply ‘ladies’. And at a time when wage parity and other matters between the genders are hot topics, the smaller model couldn’t be more timely. How so? Reverse psychology. Some men simply don’t have big enough wrists for rocking a 42mm watch…