Patek Philippe - The Geneva Watch Auction: XII Geneva Saturday, November 7, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: 1954
    Reference No: 2523/1
    Movement No: 724'317
    Case No: 313'051
    Material: 18k pink gold
    Calibre: Mechanical, 12'''400 HU, 18 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Alligator
    Clasp/Buckle: 18k pink gold PPCo pin buckle
    Dimensions: 36mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the movement in 1954 and subsequent sale of the watch on May 17, 1973.
    Literature: Different Patek Philippe World Time watches are illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, pp. 240-247.
    An identical timepiece is part of the collection of the Patek Phililppe Museum and illustrated in Patek Philippe Museum, Volume II, p. 346

  • Catalogue Essay

    There are watches that are icons, and there are watches that are milestones. Patek Philippe world time watches are of the rare breed that proudly combine the two and set the benchmark.

    Legend has it that it was in 1876 after missing a train in Ireland that Scottish railroad engineer Stanford Fleming began to look for a way to standardize time. Speaking before the Royal Canadian Institute in Toronto in 1879, he proposed to divide the Earth into 24 time zones of 15° each, one hour apart with a universal time for each individual zone. However, as with most revelations that threaten to change the world, his idea was met with considerable resistance from governments and scientific communities. Fleming’s persistence paid off and his idea was finally adopted in 1884 in Washington, when the 25 nations taking part in the International Meridian Conference decided that the prime meridian of 0° longitude would pass through Greenwich, England.

    However, surprisingly a watch that would indicate multiple timezones seemed of little interest to watchmakers until genius watchmaker Louis Cottier designed a pocket watch movement featuring a local time with hour and minute hands at center, linked to a rotating 24hour ring, and bordered by a fixed outer dial ring with the names of different cities inscribed on it. The city of choice (local time zone) was placed at the 12 o'clock position with the hours/minutes hand set at local time, the watch would then display the correct time in both hours and minutes, night and day, for every time zone in the world simultaneously, all the while allowing easy and accurate reading of local time, and all on a single dial.

    Cottier miniaturized his invention in the late 1930s which first appeared in the Patek Philippe reference 1415, a single crown model with its bezel engraved with cities to be switched manually.
    Needless to say that Patek Philippe made Cottier’s invention a staple in their collection creating a variety of models in different case shapes, pocket and wristwatches with simple dials to enamel or lavishly guilloché like the present example.

    Launched in 1953, the reference 2523 featured a new two-crown system, one for winding the watch and the other at 9 o’clock controlling the city disc. Two versions were available, reference 2523 with larger lugs sitting above the bezel and reference 2523/1 with a slightly larger diameter and thinner lugs no longer sitting above the bezel.

    When introduced to the market this new double crown world time was not a commercial success resulting in very few pieces manufactured. In fact the movement of the present watch was made in 1954 but only cased in 1966 and finally sold in 1973.

    The present piece is one of the most breathtaking specimens of the iconic reference 2523/1, by far the most appreciated, elegant, collectible and sought-after world-time model ever produced by any manufacturer.

    Beyond the appeal of the reference in itself, this example sports two extremely remarkable features.

    First and foremost, its case is preserved in absolutely unspoiled condition. It preserves its original polished and brushed surfaces. Furthermore the characteristic angular and faceted lugs are perfectly crisp. The model responds particularly badly to polishing, as even the lightest intervention dulls its sharp angles.

    Second, its dial is fitted with superb guilloché pattern. It is one of only 4 known pink gold 2523/1 with guilloché dial (one being in the Patek Philippe museum).

    The distinctive faceted lugs, the case with its polished and brushed surfaces and the superb dial make the present lot one of the most desirable watches to have left the ateliers of Patek Philippe, and to be able to behold - let alone to own - such a spectacularly preserved piece truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

  • 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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Ref. 2523/1
A spectacular, extremely rare and incredibly well-preserved pink gold dual crown worldtime wristwatch with guilloché dial

36mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed

CHF2,000,000 - 4,000,000 

Sold for CHF4,991,000

Contact Specialist

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

41 79 637 1724

The Geneva Watch Auction: XII

Geneva Auction 6 - 7 November 2020