Nuke, Dino & Frills: I take your point regarding value for money; part of why in my own acquisition plans I've concentrated on manufactures like Lange, AP or JLC, rather than on Patek. For 37K, you're entering Lange 1 territory; a watch that I simply love and a true modern icon. For a bit more, you're looking at an 1815 Chronograph (or, "baby" Dato). I suppose my question was more about the relative merits of the 5297 (sector dial or not) versus the 5227. I also wondered after watching the (promotional) videos how difficult it really was to design and craft the hunter's case back. A delightful anachronism, but is really that challenging to design and make?
Agreed with the other guys; buying a new Calatrava just isn't appealing compared to what else is available for that money. You're not the only one who's skeptical about the alleged difficulty of producing that caseback. I call bullshit on the "two years to develop" thing referred to in this Hodinkee advertorial; it's a just a damn hinge, not to mention the fact that hinged backs have been on pocketwatches basically forever. I recently got to play with one on an old Lange pocketwatch and it was freaking exquisite — I can't see this being significantly new or improved. On the other hand, if it actually does take them two years to design something that already exists, then it would explain a lot about some other aspects of certain recent efforts.
Regrets, but I don't care for either the 5297 or the 5227. I find that a date display is poorly-suited to Calatravæ, especially when it looks as dumpy as the one on the otherwise-lovely 324SC movement. For me, the central seconds and the date are out of place on what's supposed to be a dressy watch, and give it more than a hint of entry-level-Seiko flavour. If I was going for that look, then I'd just get a basic Seiko and put the difference toward a less-boring watch that's not as afflicted with identity issues. (Not meant as an insult to Seiko, by the way; their basic watches are unbeatable for the buxx.) The stark whiteness of the date wheel background seems especially lazy against an off-white dial, and the uninspired and unsuited choice (if it even was a conscious choice) of typeface completes the asleep-at-the-drawing-board impression.
Why Patek can't seem to get their shit together with these details is beyond me; on a watch like that, it's the equivalent these shoes....
...worn with a suit.
So if forced to choose, I'd go with the (flawed) sector dial, simply because its more-casual look suffers less on account of the date-display issues. But I see both as fundamentally-compromised choices and I personally would choose something else entirely.
On the plus side, the current Calatrava I don't mind is the 5196 range, especially the platinum version with the gorgeous Breguet numerals:
Again, it would be difficult to justify for the cost, but at least it's not confused about what kind of watch it's trying to be. Strangely enough, even though it's a dressier watch, it would dress down better than any of the current Calatarava-with-date options, which (to me) just look kinda dorky no matter what the context. The 5196 is a good-looking watch that I think will age gracefully, despite the seconds subdial's placement making it a bit obvious that the movement is undersized for the case.
I suppose the way to be satisfied with some of these newer Pateks is to lower your expectations.
I honestly wish I could think of something more positive to say, and I realize it's unfair to single these ones out in a world that includes the likes of Hublot, Romain Jerome and Bremont's gimmick editions. Still, the more I think about it, the more an utter mediocrity like the 5227 makes me wonder why I even bother with watches in the first place. So I will stop giving a shit about that one. It's certainly not the worst watch ever, and it'll probably retain its value in the short to medium term simply due to being a Patek... but I have a feeling that in the future, much of the current range will be considered to be a bit of a historical low point. Let's hope they make a turn for the better.
OK, moving on...
BP makes a really good watch, but they just aren't something I'd pull the trigger on. I've tried on a few versions of the 50 Fathoms, and I always come away thinking for that amount of $$$ there are other watches I'd rather own. That, and I find them (particularly the one above), a bit stodgy and boring. I don't have any AD's near me now, but years ago when I did they couldn't give them away...you could buy it new from an AD with a 40% discount. They just aren't my thing, but they do make a good watch.
Je ne suis pas fan du Bathyscaphe, non plus. Although presumably designed as a complete watch, it ends up looking like a parts-bin mess. Without getting into too much detail on the subject, that bezel is a prime example of how Arial lameifies everything it touches. (Seriously — it looks like it's straight from some nerd-forum-hawked "microbrand" that either isn't educated enough to know any better, or is stuck with the el-cheapo default font selection of the cut-rate factories that churn their stuff out, and correctly figures that their mall-ninja clients won't notice anyway.) Everything about the date indicator (positioning, alignment, ETA-clone typeface) is just an eyesore, and the elements that constitute the dial and hands seem random and disproportionate. I'm sure the movement's fine, at least. I suppose don't mind the red tip on the seconds hand, either.
Sorry, I just really can't take this thing seriously. It's again unfair to single this one out, as there are certainly far more egregious examples out there, but meaningless pap like this bums me out about the industry. Again, I will resolve not to give a shit. If someone actually likes the look or something, and isn't concerned with servicing costs or long-term appeal, then rock on — it'll tell the time just fine.
Hey, Don't Knock Plexi! It's got an appeal of its own... plexi (Click to show)
Best look away if you don't like Plexi. plexi (Click to show)
Plastic has its place. plexi (Click to show)
I don't see acrylic as a drawback at all. It's tough in its own way, and I find that it just plain looks better on some watches — especially the type I tend to like.
Plexi is sexi. Sapphire is sterile.