Longines has been going back to their roots, making heritage pieces from their vintage designs. This is widely agreed to be “pretty good”. Patek has done the reverse, discontinuing the Nautilus people loved, and introducing a Calatrava that looks, well, like an imitation Longines.

The newly announced 5226 Patek Calatrava for 2022 Watches and Wonders is without question, vintage inspired.

The dial is textured, which looks similar to vintage watches that have been exposed to water. The lume is cream-colored to imitate vintage tritium. The dial is gray with a black minute ring, untextured.

The date wheel has even been considered, a custom one with black background and cream numerals printed on top to match the dial coloration.

So what went wrong?

It’s a Patek because it has the movement and the name on the dial, for the same reason that the Omega x Swatch MoonSwatch is an Omega. It wears the name on the dial.

But the styling is all Longines. Specifically, the Longines Spirit https://www.longines.com/en-us/watch-longines-spirit-l3-811-1-53-6

Here’s the thing. I think Patek missed in a few ways:

The dial numeral font is bad. The 6 and 9 are more rounded and don’t match the 0 in 10. The minute ring numerals are microgramma or eurostile font, and feel out of place on a watch with cream lume, even though the font does date from 1952. And to make matters worse, the numerals on the custom date wheel are Helvetica-ish.

Patek are supposed to be the best of the best. One of the great difficulties of making a watch is being opinionated, and knowing what characteristics make your watch identifiable, even if the brand weren’t on the dial.

You can spot a Moser from 20 feet away and know it’s a Moser. Looking at this, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s Longines or Tissot, both of whom could have made this watch.

ByVictor Marks

sometimes described as "The best bang since the Big One."

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