Geneva – On 9 November, Christie’s Geneva esteemed evening auction, Patek Philippe 175, realised a total of SFr. 19,367,000/$19,731,099, selling 98% by lot and establishing 9 new world auction records, after a 3 hour bidding battle for the majority of the lots. The average price paid for any of the lots tonight reached nearly SFr.200,000.This themed auction of 100 wrist and pocket watches offered only the most important and historic examples to illustrate the breadth of the world’s foremost watchmaker, Patek Philippe, upon their 175th anniversary.
All 125 seats in the sale room were already reserved 48 hours ahead of the auction and over 300 collectors and watch enthusiasts attended the event. The highest total of registrants for any watch sale ever at Christie’s was achieved when 320 clients registered for bidding from across the world. The sale attracted interest from a total of 30 countries.
The top lot of the evening was a pink gold Reference 2499 First Series, which sold for SFr. 2,629,000 / US$2,678,425. Manufactured in 1951, this First Series of the Reference 2499 was one of only four examples in pink gold known to the market.
Patek Philippe. A pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases, ref. 2499, manufactured in 1951. Estimate: SFr: 1,600,000-2,600,000. Price Realised: SFr.2,629,000. Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2014
SIGNED PATEK PHILIPPE, GENÈVE, REF. 2499 FIRST SERIES, MOVEMENT NO. 868’249, CASE NO. 665’025, MANUFACTURED IN 1951
Cal. 13 »’130 Q mechanical movement, 23 jewels, silvered dial, applied pink gold Arabic and dot numerals, pink gold feuille hands, railway Arabic five minute divisions combined with fifth of a second divisions, outer tachymetre scale, two windows for day and month, three subsidiary dials for constant seconds, 30 minutes register and phases of the moon combined with date, circular case, stepped downturned lugs, snap on back, 18K pink gold Patek Philippe buckle, case, dial and movement signed – 36.2 mm. diam.
John Reardon, International Head of Christie’s Watch department, proudly commented: “This sale has exceeded our expectations in every way. With 69 lots sold above estimate, this sale sets a new benchmark for thematic sales and shows the amazing strength of the Patek Philippe market. On a personal level, I cannot overstate how impressed I am with the Christie’s international team in their commitment to making this sale a success as well as the passion and energy of the watch collecting community in participating in this sale. Collectors swarmed the room in a fury of excitement to earn the right to own one of the 100 watches on offer. Our team was particularly impressed by the performance of the 2499 First series sold for an impressive SFr.2,629,000. Also, the reference 530 manufactured in 1939 realised SFr. 593,000 against a presale estimate of 200,000-400,000”.
The Property from an Important American Private Collection
Notes: With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1951 and its subsequent sale on 17 April 1956. Furthermore delivered with a Patek Philippe presentation box.
TOP LOTS OF THE PATEK PHILIPPE 175 SALE
Patek Philippe. A gold wristwatch with single button split- seconds chronograph, made especially for William E. Boeing, ref 130, manufactured in 1930. Estimate: SFr.400,000-800,000 – Price Realised: SFr. 485,000. Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2014
13 »’ CCR nickel-finished jewelled lever movement stamped PXP, silvered dial, applied gold Breguet numerals, gold feuille hands, minute hand painted with three red stripes, outer minute track, two subsidiary dials for 30 minutes register and constant seconds, circular case, concave bezel, snap on back, downturned lugs, case signed by maker and hand-stamped with Cartier reference no. 8949, dial signed by maker and retailer, movement signed by maker – 33 mm. diam.
William E. Boeing (1881 – 1956)
A wealthy Seattle timber man, William E. Boeing led a life driven by passion. With a great interest for yachting and horse breeding, his outstanding career in aviation influenced the events of World War I, the prohibition era, as well as the Great Depression. An American aviation pioneer and a true entrepreneur, Boeing reached for the skies when few others dared and created a global enterprise.
Born in Detroit to Wilhelm and Marie Boeing in 1881, William’s father Wilhelm was a German soldier who immigrated to the United States when he was just 20 years old and it is clear that William inherited his adventurous spirit. After a brief amount of time at school in both Vevey Switzerland as well as Yale, in his early 20’s William decided to branch out like his father before him and began a new life in Grays Harbor, Washington, where he began to add to the wealth he had inherited from his family by buying timberland and outfitting expeditions to Alaska.
In 1908, William moved to Seattle to establish the Greenwood Timber Co. It was at this time that Boeing’s interests in yachts and airplanes grew. Boeing became acquainted with Thomas Hamilton, later founder of Hamilton Metalplane Co. (acquired by Boeing in 1929), as well as U.S. Navy Lieutenant G. Conrad Westervelt. Boeing and Westervelt had joined flyer Terah Maroney on rides above Lake Washington and after close inspection of the plane they decided they could improve on it to build a better one.
Building planes as well as flying them himself, in 1915 Boeing purchased one of the first Martin seaplanes. Although Boeings interests were magnificently varied, at this time he was sure of his future in aviation and he began designing the first Boeing plane. After incorporating Pacific Aero Products, the company was soon renamed Boeing Airplane Company in 1917. A fast growing company, the first international airmail to reach the United States was achieved. To promote the idea of commercial aviation, In 1919 Boeing and pilot Eddie Hubbard used Boeing’s personal C-700 to deliver 60 letters from Vancouver to Seattle as part of the Canadian Exposition.
In competing for the Chicago to San Francisco airmail route, he realized that air cooled engines should be used on the Model 4OA mail plane instead of traditional water-cooled engines. He won the bid and Boeing was granted 26 airplanes in operation by July 1st, 1927. William Boeing was moving into the new business of commercial aviation, and this pioneering business endeavor would soon expand into one of the largest corporations in America.
On February 1, 1929, Boeing Airplane and Transport Corporation became United Aircraft and Transport Corp. and included several airlines, aircraft manufacturers, engine and propeller manufacturers, and a school for pilots and maintenance personnel in California.
On December 15, 1966, Bill Boeing was memorialized in the Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, « for outstanding contributions to aviation by his successful organization of a network of airline routes and the production of vitally important military and commercial aircraft. »
Property from the Descendants of the Original Owner
« We are embarked as pioneers upon a new science and industry in which our problems are so new and unusual that it behooves no one to dismiss any novel idea with the statement that ‘it can’t be done! » William E. Boeing
Notes: With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with silvered dial, raised Breguet numerals in gold in 1930 and its subsequent sale on 9 June 1939.
This unique round single button split-seconds chronograph wristwatch by Patek Philippe is important not only for its exceptional provenance, but also for its absolute rarity in terms of Patek Philippe’s production. Only a handful of early split-seconds chronographs are known and the discovery of this watch is exciting for both the watch world and the aeronautical world. This watch is a piece of history for both Americans and the Swiss and represents the ultimate height of technology of the watchmaking and race for air dominance in the early 20th century. No watch of this historical importance has ever been discovered before and no watch of this historical importance will ever be found again.
The split-seconds chronograph mechanism allows its wearer to time two independent events at the same time while operating the stop functions via the crown and the second button in the band.
Many of these split-second watches are actually only known through literature and archival images. Only nine other examples of single button split-seconds chronograph wristwatches by Patek Philippe are known to have survived, one of them is on permanent exhibit at Patek Philippe’s own museum in Geneva. Of the nine known early splits, only three are in round reference 130 style cases and the discovery of the Boeing watch is the 10th known early split-seconds and the 4th known cased in a reference 130.
Of these four watches, only one other has a Cartier signature and no others are made with Breguet numerals without tachymeter scale. Furthermore, Patek Philippe watches by Cartier New York are exceptionally rare. Cartier had a unique relationship with Henri Stern Agency (Patek Philippe USA) from the 1930s until the late 1950s when the relationship ended. Finding a timepiece with a Cartier and Patek Philippe signature is especially rare on complicated wristwatches and rarely seen today.
The Cartier numbers under the top left lug are an exquisite detail that further confirms the Cartier provenance of the watch. These numbers were applied by Cartier in order to be able to track down the details of the item in stock, such as location, year and origin. There are examples of such numbers either hand engraved or, such as in this instance, stamped. It is conceivable that the numbers were stamped, a more complex procedure but yielding better and longer lasting results, only on important pieces.
It is interesting to note that on 13 November 2001, Christie’s Geneva sold a similar watch with a case number only one digit away from the Boeing for CHF999.750. Previously, this same watch sold as lot 234 in The Art of Patek Philippe, Antiquorum, Geneva, 9 April 1989. This timepiece has the movement number 198’405, case number 617’297, and the Cartier reference number 8703, and was made in 1930, as the present lot, and sold in 1938.
The case of the present timepiece was realized by Emile Vichet, as can be deduced by the stamp of a key with inscribed the number 9. This is the unique identification stamp of Vichet, the key meaning it is a Genève based case maker (other location had different symbols, such as the hammer for the Neuchatel canton). Vichet was one of the most appreciated case makers of the first half of the century. Specialized in extremely high end jobs, his relationship with Patek is profound, and his genius is behind many of the most beloved Patek Philippe vintage references such as, of course, reference 130, but also references 1518 and 1526, to name two well-known examples, and many others as well.
The ébauche (the base movement of a watch before it is assembled and properly finished) of the offered lot was made by Victorin Piguet & Co. of Le Sentier. During the 1920s the company made most of the èbauches for complicated movements, including single button and split seconds chronographs, mainly for prestigious firms like Patek Philippe.
The minute hand of this watch has the unique feature of having three parallel red stripes painted on it. Based on our research, there are a number of possible theories on why these stripes were placed on this hand at Mr. Boeing’s request. In all likelihood, these stripes were added in New York by Cartier at the same time the Cartier signature was added to the watch.
Considered that among Mr. Boeing many interests there was also horse racing, scholars have formulated the hypothesis that this watch was intended to assist the owner in this passion of his. After all, horse and car racing are the main reasons that prompted the realization of the split second complication. Furthermore, Patek Philippe is no stranger to the world of horse racing, having realized another unique split second wristwatch reference 1436 (movement no. 862’274) for one of the most successful jockey of the time: Wendall Eads. That timepiece was sold by Christie’s New York in December 2012.
– The three stripes could refer to the airline pilot uniforms that were introduced in the early 1930s which had three stripes for first officers
– The red stripes may represent the American flag. The blue steel chronograph hands help to make up the nation’s colors
– It is possible that the red stripes represent the Model 40 plane that Boeing built for US mail delivery. Red stripes are a key feature to the plane’s top tier. The Boeing Model 40 A first flew on 20 May 1927
– The red stripes could represent Mr. Boeing’s interest in nautical racing and yachting. The signal flag for starting a code at sea is a triangular white flag with three red stripes
– Most compelling of the theories is that the red stripes were added to celebrate the connection between Mr. Boeing’s first factory, the famous Red Barn (formerly Heath’s shipyard in Seattle, Washington). The Red Barn features prominently three red parallel stripes that represented the early branding of his new company
Boeing’s perfectionism is paralleled in this unique Patek Philippe single button chronograph, manufactured in 1930. Chronographs were very popular with aviators as they allowed them to make rapid calculations and conduct precise timing. The demand for chronographs grew along with the aviation industry in the early part of the 20th century. The single-button chronograph mechanism remains among the most complex and sophisticated developments of time measurement. Whereas the standard chronograph is activated and reset through two buttons in the band, the single-button chronograph controls all of these functions solely through one button. According to current research, Patek Philippe produced single-button chronograph wristwatches between 1924 and the late 1930s in approximately only thirty examples, the majority encased in the timeless round « Calatrava »-style case like the present timepiece. The rarity and exclusivity of this watch is furthermore underlined by the fact that since production of single button chronographs ceased in the late 1930s, Patek Philippe has never resumed production. Single-button chronographs remain rare today as they are an archaic form within the world of mechanical chronographs. Patek Philippe’s accessible work of interactive craftsmanship as well as that of William E. Boeing makes this watch perfectly suited to its original owner.
The case of the watch is engraved, ‘W.E. BOEING, SEATTLE, WASH.’ It was common to put one’s name and city on a watch at this time, here pertaining to Boeings triumph in buying Heath’s shipyard in Seattle on the Duwamish River, which later became his first airplane factory as well as Boeing becoming incorporated in Seattle in 1917.
Patek Philippe. A gold two crown world time wristwatch with 24 hours indication and blue enamel dial, ref. 2523, manufactured in 1953. Estimate: SFr.1,500,000-2,500,000. Price Realised: Sfr.2,225,000. Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2014
Cal. 12 »’400 HU movement stamped twice with the Geneva seal, 18 jewels, gold baton and Roman numerals on engine-turned gold chapter ring, translucent Royal blue enamel centre, stylized gold hands, inner revolving ring calibrated for Arabic 24 hours divided into diurnal and nocturnal hours, outer silvered revolving ring with names of 41 cities from around the world and adjusted by the crown at 9, large circular case, faceted lugs, snap on back, 18K gold Patek Philippe buckle, case, dial and movement signed – 35.5 mm. diam.
The Genius of Louis Cottier and the Heures Universelles
With increased mobility in the late 19th century, travelers were confronted with the dilemma that each region had its own local time. Sandford Fleming (1827-1915) solved this problem. In 1876, the Canadian railway engineer recommended a universal time system in which the globe was divided into 24 time zones.
During the International Meridian Conference in Washington D.C. on 1st November 1884, it was agreed to establish international zones according to his system. GMT, Greenwich Mean Time, was considered « time zero » and twenty-four standard meridians marked the centers of the zones. The International Dateline was placed along the 180-degree meridian in the Pacific Ocean. Around the world, clocks were reset to adapt to this new system of timekeeping.
This challenging problem for watchmakers was solved by Louis Cottier, who in the early 1930s, invented an ingenious system for universal or world time indication. Patek Philippe immediately commissioned Cottier with the development and production of a series of « World Time » watches, using the celebrated « HU » or « heures universelles » calibres (see lots 55 and 64 in this auction), followed by the « Travel Time » wristwatches with either two or three hands (see lot 69 in this auction). Made in exceedingly small series, these timepieces are today highly sought after collectors’ watches.
Different examples of Patek Philippe’s « World Time » pocket and wristwatches are illustrated and described in Patek Philippe Museum – Patek Philippe Watches – Volume II, p. 334-353, chapter « World Time and Jump Hour Watches and Louis Cottier Prototypes ».
Louis Cottier (1884-1966)
Born in 1894 in Carouge, Geneva, Cottier inherited the talents of his father Emmanuel, a renowned maker of watches and automata. Emmanuel invented a World Time system in 1885 which he presented to the Société des Arts and which, some forty years later, served as inspiration to his son.
Louis studied watchmaking at Geneva’s horological school and distinguished himself as a highly talented student. At a very young age Louis Cottier received several prizes, including two from Patek Philippe. Following his studies, he worked as a watchmaker for Jaeger’s Geneva branch before opening his own business. Cottier’s career started in the back room of his wife’s book and stationary shop at Carouge’s 45 rue Vautier where, during 13 years, he manufactured fine desk clocks, pocket watches, wristwatches and prototypes. In 1931, he introduced his highly practical and elegant invention « heures universelles », featuring a central local time with hour and minute hands, linked to a rotating 24 hour ring, and bordered by either an independently revolving time zone bezel or outer dial ring (both manually adjusted). By aligning the local time zone with the 12 o’clock point of the local time dial, the watch would display the correct time in both hours and minutes, night and day, for every time zone in the world simultaneously, all on a single dial and while allowing easy accurate reading of local time.
Following the success of this ingenious system, Cottier specialized in complicated world time watches and invented models of remarkably pure design for the most prestigious Geneva brands, notably Patek Philippe.
In 1950, he invented the World Time system with two crowns, regarded by many one of the most practical innovations of 20th century watchmaking. In addition to a greater security and precision in the choice and maintenance of the city of reference, it offered greater protection against shocks and wear on the bezel bearing the city names. The ability to print the city names rather than incising them, thanks to the protective glass, resulted in greater legibility.
Patek Philippe entrusted Cottier with the development and fabrication of the greatest number of complicated watches, resulting in the invention and production the celebrated « dual time » wristwatch in 1954 featuring a single movement. This solved the problem of synchronizing the minute hand, a problem often found in twin movement watches by other manufacturers. This Two Time Zone movement with two or three hands, developed in collaboration with Patek Philippe’s specialists, is amongst his most successful inventions. Finished in 1957, the prototype was patented by the firm in 1959 (no. 340191).
Louis Cottier was one of the organizers of the famous annual exhibition « Montres & Bijoux », which each year presented new creations. Even though he was considered a living legend and despite his incredible reputation he had earned in the world of horology, the ever active and brilliant Louis Cottier remained a modest and humble man.
He would certainly have been surprised to know that, after his death in 1966, his workshop was given to Geneva’s Musée d’Horlogerie et d’Emaillerie where it can still be seen today. A similar tribute was made following his death when the citizens of Carouge paid homage to the man and his contributions by naming a square after him.
Today, Louis Cottier’s timeless design are the standard used for mechanical world time watches.
Notes: With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with blue enamel to the centre, revolving ring with 41 cities and applied gold indexes in 1953 and its subsequent sale on 9 July 1956.
Certain wristwatch models are unanimously considered landmarks of horology: the first serially produced perpetual chronograph, Patek Philippe’s reference 1518, is one example. Other examples are the two-crown models produced by Patek Philippe at the beginning of the second half of the last century, the celebrated World Time references 2523 and 2523/1, of which the timepiece here on offer is a remarkable specimen.
These wristwatches combine all the characteristics rendering a vintage watch attractive. First of all, their aesthetic appeal is simply stunning. At 35.5mm, the case is not excessively encumbering or ostentatious, and yet the concentric rings layout of the dial, coupled with the generous bezel, grant these timepieces a presence on the wrist far exceeding that of other watches of similar size. The second crown at 9 o’ clock mirrors the usual one at 3 o’ clock and imbues the overall look of the piece with balance and symmetry. The deep blue enamel is a feast for the eyes, its color constantly changing and dancing according to how the light strikes it.
The apparent beauty of the case and dial design is matched by the beauty and complexity of the inner workings of the watch, the revolutionary world time system – or Heures Universelles– designed and patented in the early 1930s by legendary watchmaker Louis Cottier.
Last but not least it is important to mention the extraordinary rarity of Patek Philippe’s two crown world time wristwatches. Scholars assume that an exceedingly small series of calibre 12 »’400 were upgraded by Cottier on behalf of Patek Philippe to become the revered 12 »’400 HU (Heures Universelles) version used for reference 2523 (and later 2523/1), rendering the model one of the firm’s rarest, if not the rarest, serially produced wristwatch. The watches were fitted with a variety of different types of dial centres, including engine-turned gold, cloisonné enamelled discs depicting maps or monochrome translucent blue, such as the present watch, in fact the rarest of all versions: as a matter of fact, only two other yellow 2523 are known with this dial configuration.
As it so often happens in the world of vintage watch collecting, such a limited production is due to the poor reception the model received when first launched. It took decades for the taste of the public to evolve and eventually appreciate these masterpieces, which are consequently as rare as they are sought after.
It is no surprise that on rare occasions examples of these ultra-rare timepieces appear at auction, they never fail to stir the market as well as the hearts of collectors. However, a specimen such as the present one is bound to capture the imagination of Patek Philippe lovers all over the world even as it is one of the best preserved examples to appear at auction in recent years. One of the « signature » characteristics of reference 2523 is its faceted lugs. A true masterpiece of design, the lugs present 3 facets: top, side and a third one inclined at 45 degrees, their sharp edges extremely sensitive to polishing. The present example however showcases angles in near mint condition, testimony of the care and reverence the watch has been treated with by its previous owner and a near impossible find for the true connoisseur looking for the ultimate gem for his or her vintage Patek Philippe collection. The fascinating dial does not show any signs of cosmetic enhancement, the royal blue colour beautifully harmonizing with the gold case material, further enhancing the incredible look of this unmatched timepiece.
Patek Philippe. A white gold perpetual calendar wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, phases of the moon and bracelet, ref. 2497, manufactured in 1953 Estimate: SFr. 1,000,000-2,000,000. Price Realised: SFr. 2,045,000. Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2014
Cal. 27 SC Q mechanical movement stamped twice with the Geneva seal, 18 jewels, silvered dial with applied white gold Breguet and dot numerals, sweep centre seconds, two apertures for day and month, subsidiary dial indicating phases of the moon combined with date, the large circular case with down turned fluted lugs, snap on back, 18K white gold Patek Philippe bracelet signed Gay Fréres, case, dial and movement signed – 37 mm. diam.
The Property of the Descendants of the Original Owner
Notes: With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of this watch in 1953 and its subsequent sale on 17 February 1954.
When Patek Philippe launched with enormous success reference 2499 in the early 1950s, they soon followed such acclaim with the release of another wristwatch. A cleaner model, both in case and dial, which traded off the chronograph feature in exchange for sweep centre seconds. In Patek’s catalogues from 1951 to 1963, this model was produced in even less examples than its cousin reference 2499. We are of course talking of the present lot: reference 2497.
The Patek Philippe enthusiast will immediately recognize the many similarities between the two references. The case is virtually the same as that of reference 2499, the only difference being, obviously, the disappearance of the chronograph buttons in the band. The bezel, case main body and, especially, the famous shaped lugs are all details that the two models share. So similar is the genesis of the case for the two references that in fact reference 2497, like reference 2499, may present two different kinds of case backs: flat in the earliest models and rounded in later examples.
Moving onto the dial, however, the differences are more important: the elimination of the chronographic function prompted a minor revolution of the dial design. The most apparent divergence between the two models is indeed centered upon the two subsidiary dials at 3 and 9, which in reference 2499 display the 30 minutes register and the constant seconds. There is now no need for a minutes register, as this reference is not a chronograph, and the constant seconds have become sweep centre seconds. The lack of chronographic functions prompted another dial modification, more subtle but with an equally momentous aesthetic impact: the outer railway fifth of a second divisions, a detail that is often found on chronometers from the 1940s, are now much smaller, without the railway style. Interestingly, this makes the dial more airy and clean, and actually predates by a decade a trend that will, in time, bring to the public absolutely sparse dials, typical of the 1970s. This evolution can be noticed in the 3rd series 2499s, first seen around the year 1960 bearing a dial layout very similar to the one of reference 2497, and in its final phase: reference 3448, which pushes the boundaries of dial minimalism to the limit.
Incorporating a massive case with an exquisitely 1940s design, elements typical of later fashions – such as the size of the case and the cleaner dial layout – and the extremely useful perpetual calendar function, it is unsurprising that this model is nowadays a collector’s favorite, even for day-to-day use. One of the details that most fascinates scholars, collectors and laymen alike is probably the most subtle of all horological complications: the sweep centre seconds. Modern horology, and the advent of quartz watches, numbed the public’s feeling toward this feature, considered somewhat common or obvious. The true connoisseur knows differently: the constant friction that a sweep centre seconds pinion withstands calls for formidable technical solutions, especially in watches conceived more than half a century ago. It is not by chance that most of the vintage models do not feature such a complication. Patek Philippe itself, after the discontinuation of reference 2497, will not create another perpetual calendar wristwatch with sweep centre seconds until the end of the century, when reference 5050 is released. The constant motion of the hand around the dial is doubtlessly aesthetically extremely pleasing, as it makes the dial « alive ». For the real watch lover, however, it has a nearly hypnotic charm and a deeper meaning: it is a subtle reminder of the incredibly intricate array of gears and escapements that, hidden under the dial, quietly breathes life into the watch.
Reference 2497 is powered by a modified version of the revered 27SC calibre upgraded with the perpetual calendar module. The extreme rarity of this reference has already been mentioned, but in order to grasp its true extent one should consider that only around 180 modified 27SC calibres were delivered to Patek Philippe. Not all of them, however, found their new home in a 2497. Some were destined to the 2497’s waterproof sister reference (2438-1, identical in everything but with a screw back) and a minority in the less known reference 2498. Educated estimates put the total number of movements cased in a 2497 case at little more than 100. This number, however, covers all variations of reference 2497, which is known in yellow, pink and white gold as well as in platinum.
The vast majority of these watches were cased in yellow gold cases, and a couple dozen examples in pink gold cases. With the platinum and white gold versions, however, we venture into the uncharted territories that are home to the most outrageously rare wristwatches ever made. Only two platinum 2497s are known to the market, one with painted breguet numerals (sold by Christie’s in May 2008 for 2.2 million francs), the other with diamond indexes, pink gold hands and bracelet. Until today, that was true for the white gold version as well, with only two other examples known.
It is with pride that Christie’s rewrites history with the introduction to the public of this previously unknown treasure: the third publicly known white gold reference 2497, consigned by descendants of the original owner. In effect, confirming the extreme rarity of this reference in white gold, our research indicates that this watch was part of a batch of 20 pieces. All of them, except the present one, in yellow gold. Furthermore this example, unlike its two other white gold peers, features a white gold bracelet. While originally sold with a leather strap, shortly after the purchase the owner went back to Patek Philippe and demanded a white gold bracelet. In one of the very rare instances in which Patek Philippe agrees to a client’s modification request, the watch was fitted with a bracelet by legendary jeweler Gay Frères. Indeed the bracelet clasp is stamped 2 53, which indicates a production date in the second quarter of 1953, thus a delivery to Patek Philippe sometime in late 1953, just in time to be fitted onto this watch in 1954.
Examples of reference 2497 are prominently illustrated and described in Patek Philippe Museum – Patek Philippe Watches Vol. II, pp. 295