Patek Philippe Ref. 2499, 1971
It's easy to praise Patek Philippe's Reference 2499. Mention those four numbers to any collector and prepare to find yourself trying to out-hyperbole each other over an argument that never was: You both would do anything to have one. The ref. 2499 is the perpetual calendar chronograph from the perpetual calendar chronograph maker.
Patek Philippe introduced its first perpetual calendar chronograph in 1941. The reference 1518, like the historically important and rare version in stainless steel that sold for more than US$11 million last November in Geneva, was a revolutionary watch. The first of its kind made in a series, Patek would make approximately 281 models during a 13-year production run. More than anything, it would define the look of all subsequent perpetual calendar chronographs, starting with the reference 2499, which was built using the same Valjoux-based movement.
Reference 2449 would be the largest Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph of the 20th century.
Reference 2499 was introduced in 1951 and it confirmed the strength of the original design. The dial's layout remained intact, but the case was significantly larger than its predecessor and much bolder too, with stepped lugs adding to the watch's presence on the wrist. In fact, reference 2449 would be the largest Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph of the 20th century, bigger even than the reference that replaced it, which is one of the reasons collectors typically focus on the ref. 2499 over other models in the lineage.
The other reason is that, despite a production run stretching over 35 years, the ref. 2449 remains a highly exclusive reference in the company's history. A total of 349 pieces were made. That's more than the reference 1518, but not much more. They were made in yellow, rose and white gold, and two were made in platinum, and all of them are desirable — not to mention expensive — but some stand out as being a cut above.
While the majority of ref. 2449s were made in yellow gold, pink gold versions are very rare.
Case materials matter, especially with Patek Philippe. While the majority of ref. 2449s were made in yellow gold, pink gold versions are very rare. And that's why, besides being an exceptional beautiful watch, this present example is also historically important.
This watch, as some of you may have already figured out, is part of the very rare third series — we know of only six like it. It has round chronograph buttons, applied baton numerals, and no tachymeter scale on the dial. But there's more. This isn't a typical third series dial. Most have four-sided baton markers. Not this one.
Instead, it has two-sided baton markers and large pyramid indexes at 3, 5, 7 and 9 o'clock. This is a known dial configuration, but it has only been seen once in another model, a twin, if you can call it that.
And there's the condition of the watch. The case of the present watch from The Geneva Watch Auction: SIX has never been polished, as evidenced by the large proportions of the case. There is no sign of oxidation and the reddish tone remains perfectly warm. The stepped lugs are strong, the dial is pristine with the raised hard enamel writing perfectly intact and crisp. Needless to say, it would be unwise to pass on this third series 2499 because we do not know if a third example even exists, and we are certain that if it did, it wouldn't be in better condition than the present example.
This exception rose gold Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 from the upcoming Geneva Watch Auction: SIX has an estimate of $1,550,000 to 3,100,00.