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  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: 1957
    Reference No: 2499
    Movement No: 868'613
    Case No: 696'525
    Material: 18K pink gold
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 13''', 23 jewels, stamped twice with the Geneva Seal
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K pink gold Patek Philippe pin buckle
    Dimensions: 37.5mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1957 with silvered dial and raised gold indexes, and its subsequent sale on October 31, 1961.

    • Catalogue Essay

      Every 2499 is what horological dreams are made of, for any collector. Early examples of the reference in particular, such as second or first series pieces, are considered the Olympus of collecting. When however a second series example comes dressed in pink, it can be considered the absolute apogee of high-end vintage wristwatch collecting.

      The reason behind such a legendary status is multifaceted, with roots in the aesthetics of the watch as well as in its execution and production history.

      HISTORICAL CONTEXT

      Reference 2499 is the second - and last vintage - serially produced perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moonphases model launched by the brand. Introduced in 1950, it succeeded (and partly overlapped with) reference 1518 (1941-1954). Mechanically, it shares the same 13 lignes 130 chronographe calibre with the addition of the calendar/moonphase module, based on a Valjoux ébauche heavily modified in-house. With this movement, Patek Philippe “institutionalized” an aesthetic language that has been since then employed on virtually all the models with this complication: an extremely balanced three-counter, two-window architecture which manages to convey the wealth of information given by the watch without feeling overly encumbered.

      So entangled is this line of timepieces with the history of the company, that it is the only line which has been in continuous production from its inception until nowadays, with five main models so far (1518, 2499, 3970, 5970 and 5270).

      The technical supremacy of a company who manages to serially manufacture perpetual calendar (not even considering the additional complications!) timepieces beginning from the 1940s is beyond praise: to put it in perspective, the only other company to try something similar was Audemars Piguet with perpetual calendar (no additional complication) reference 5516. That model was in production for about 4 years (1955-1958), for a total output of 9 pieces. By then, Patek had already made all the 281 examples of ref. 1518, and production of ref. 2499 had been on for six years.
      This also helps us to understand the, already back then, incredible power of this brand. It is important to take note of the fact that reference 1518 (and its chronograph-less counterpart ref. 1526) was launched in 1941 amidst the full swing of WWII. Patek Philippe clientele was however so selected that the war had virtually no impact on the sale of the watches - with actually waiting lists already back then. The same situation occurred - magnified by the peace time - with reference 2499.

      STYLE CONSIDERATIONS


      While technically superb, part of the charm of the reference is to be attributed to its design. It would be only slightly hyperbolic to state that the design of this model is to be considered the pinnacle of watchmaking design - all ages, all brands, all timepieces included. While this might be arguable - and in fact scores of watch enthusiasts already had such an argument - it is undeniable that the design of the model is a lesson in balance and elegance.

      Its progenitor ref. 1518 was a son of its time - a wartime - and thus the design was highly inspired by the Bauhaus aesthetic mantra “form follows function” (today reinterpreted as “less is more”): an extremely elegant and compact, no-frills timepiece which is still today considered a champion of Patek Philippe’s understatement.

      Reference 2499 was instead designed after wartime, and the promises and hopes of such a vibrant era are apparent in its design. The diameter was enlarged from 35mm to 36mm (and later 37.5), a major departure from the restrained aesthetics codes so far employed. The architecture of the case manages to achieve what might have seemed an impossibility: a perfect balance of flair and restrain. The watch feels incredibly luxurious and peculiar, possibly even borderline flamboyant, but never in slightest excessive or overdone. The case architecture is extremely complex: the concave bezel is contrasted by a convex bad. Edges and curves abound everywhere. The lugs - possibly the most iconic detail of the reference - feature a sculpted groove to the outer edge which manages to impart a feeling that is both imposing and airy at the same time. Many of these details have been employed on later models and some references - going as far as ref. 5016 and 5004, in production until the early 2010s - still feature virtually the same case, with minor adaptations.

      TECHNICAL DETAILS AND PRODUCTION.

      The first examples of ref. 2499 date back to 1949/1950, and the model was discontinued in 1985. The total production adds up to 349 pieces in yellow and pink gold, and 2 additional “extra series” platinum pieces. The existence of an extremely restricted number of white gold pieces has been speculated but never confirmed.

      As mentioned, the movement was based an a Valjoux ébauche modified and finished to the highest standard, and sometimes stamped with the Geneva Seal (but not always: there seem to be no logic in regard to which examples bear the Seal and which ones do not).

      No relevant modification the the movement has been implemented throughout the entire production cycle.

      Case and dial instead present a marked evolution, and four series are recognised. The present pink gold example belongs to the second series. Second series cases are markedly different from those belonging to the first series: the square chronograph pushers of the first series (inherited from ref. 1518) are abandoned and in their place we find round pushers, more modern and in tone with the then-current fashion.
      Scholarship was hesitant on whether cases with round pusher were made exclusively by one casemaker - Wenger. Some Vichet examples were rumoured to have appeared in the past, but no consensus had been reached. In December 2019 the question was finally closed with the appearance at Phillips New York of an example with case made by Vichet but with round pushers.

      The details of the dial remain the same between first and second series (most notably, the presence of the tachymeter scale), but second series dials are known with either Arabic or baton numerals rather than just Arabic as found in first series specimens.

      Second series pieces were made, like first series examples, for about a decade between the mid 1950s and mid 1960s circa. The present 1953 specimen is one of the earliest second series made.

      The second series pink gold production is extremely rarified, with 8 examples with Wenger case known from the market. Scholars agree that the total production should be at most 10 pieces.

      While any 2499 is rightfully to be considered a dream watch, pink gold examples are empyrean timepieces, object which collectors spend decades striving to acquire, and often with no success. It is not just an economic problem: the innate rarity of these watches - with a combined total output estimated at between 30 and 40 pieces: about 10% of the production - coupled with the attachment collectors feel for them, mean they hardly ever appear on the market, furthermore in such attractive condition.

      Without a doubt one of the best preserved 2499 cases to appear on the market, the present example perfectly preserves its original proportions, and the presence of an extremely crisp hallmark to the outer side of the lugs - a highly sensitive location for an hallmark - is a telltale sign of the honesty of the piece. If that was not enough, the watch features a hardly ever seen detail: the Helvetia poinçon, gold title and Wenger's Poinçon de Maître (number 1, inscribed into a Key) lightly stamped to the outside of the caseback. This location would be very sensitive not only to polishing, but to normal wear (the wrist rubbing against the back) as well. The fact that these stamps are so well preserved indicates that the watch was truly scarcely used.

      The dial as well is in absolutely honest condition, without a trace of restoration. A subtle ivory dial patina enhances the warmth of the pink gold case; the calendar windows present sharp edges, and all engraved/enamelled graphics are absolutely present and unmolested.

      An additional highly distinguished trait of this watch is the very short and transparent history of its owners. The piece remained in the same German family until its sale in 2010, and the buyers at that sale is now offering this watch making it a two-owner piece. The German heritage of the original owners perfectly matches the German calendar found on this timepiece. In fact, the present pink gold second series is the only known featuring this exotic detail.

      Undeniably, this watch is a true trophy which would be counted among the proudest possession of any of the most important Patek Philippe collectors worldwide.

    • Artist Biography

      Patek Philippe

      Swiss • 1839

      Since its founding in 1839, this famous Geneva-based firm has been surprising its clientele with superbly crafted timepieces fitted with watchmaking's most prestigious complications. Traditional and conservative designs are found across Patek Philippe's watches made throughout their history — the utmost in understated elegance.

      Well-known for the Graves Supercomplication — a highly complicated pocket watch that was the world’s most complicated watch for 50 years — this family-owned brand has earned a reputation of excellence around the world. Patek's complicated vintage watches hold the highest number of world records for results achieved at auction compared with any other brand. For collectors, key models include the reference 1518, the world's first serially produced perpetual calendar chronograph, and its successor, the reference 2499. Other famous models include perpetual calendars such as the ref. 1526, ref. 3448 and 3450, chronographs such as the reference 130, 530 and 1463, as well as reference 1436 and 1563 split seconds chronographs. Patek is also well-known for their classically styled, time-only "Calatrava" dress watches, and the "Nautilus," an iconic luxury sports watch first introduced in 1976 as the reference 3700 that is still in production today.

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208

Ref. 2499
A superlatively fine, rare and important pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moonphases and German calendar

1957
37.5mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
CHF1,500,000 - 3,000,000 
€1,360,000-2,720,000
$1,630,000-3,270,000

Sold for CHF2,450,000

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East

41 79 637 1724
[email protected]

 

 

The Geneva Watch Auction: XIII

Geneva Auction 8 - 9 May 2021