When Eros shoots his arrow, you have no choice but to fall hopelessly in love.
That’s what happened to me the other night when I went to an event at the New York Public library hosted by Patek Philippe, ostensibly to meet the Swiss watchmaker’s new U.S. president, Lisa Jones. I promptly found my pulse racing and drawn against my will to a pretty little thing, demurely winking at me from a glass box.
It was the 5220P Alarm Travel Times, which looks like a wristwatch Captain Haddock from the Tin Tin comic books would wear. It’s what they call a Pilot watch, and had the usual smooth and glittering edges of a hand-buffed and -polished platinum case done in that unique Patek Philippe style; an ebony-black dial with white-gold hands and luminesce numerals that were all redolent of 1930s Berlin spies; and four studly push-buttons that allowed you to track different time zones.
Patek Philippe’s theme this collection were travel watches with self-winding movements, which means automatic watches that allow you to keep local time during foreign travel (through the solid white-gold hand) as well as the time at home (via the skeletonized hand,) all activated through the push-buttons thrusting out around the bezel. The white “local” dot and the blue “home” dot at three and nine o’clock inform you the times indicated by the hands are day or night. The subdial at six o’clock indicates the calendar date.
But here’s what really got me all hot and bothered – this seductive watch also housed my favorite of all grand complications: an alarm (the time you set your alarm can be seen in the apertures at 12 o’clock) and a lively chime created by a tiny hammer striking a classic gong (seen through a sapphire-crystal window on the back of the case.) The alarm’s striking mechanism produced four new patents for Patek. It’s terribly difficult to produce a rich tone from a miniature hammer and gong in a compressed space on a wrist. Only the best watchmakers can do so.
A life with this gorgeous creature would cost you $226, 805.