Patek Philippe - The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV Geneva Friday, November 5, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: 1952
    Reference No: 2499
    Movement No: 868'340
    Case No: 687'756
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 13''', 23 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: 18K yellow gold Gay Frères bracelet, max length 185mm
    Clasp/Buckle: 18k yellow gold deployant clasp stamped SYL 1.57
    Dimensions: 37.5mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed, dial, case and clasp further stamped for Serpico y Laino
    Accessories: Accompanied by Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1952 and its subsequent sale on March 2, 1956.

  • Catalogue Essay

    A truly landmark discovery happens very rarely in one's lifetime. To be able to unearth an object, the best of its kind, after having been cherished in a safe for many years is any specialists' wildest dream come true. It has often been thought that there are no longer watches "in the wild", that everything to be discovered has already been found. Yet, the present watch defies such common belief. Having resided in a safe for over sixty years, its groundbreaking discovery in 2020 not only changes Patek Philippe scholarship, but provides an opportunity for collectors to acquire a mythical trophy timepiece. Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo is humbled and thrilled to be entrusted with the sale of the present watch, a first series reference 2499 retailed by Serpico y Laino, which is replete with its original, heavy and beautiful bracelet also stamped by the retailer. Founded in the late 1920s by Leopoldo Serpico and Vicente Laino, Serpico y Laino is no longer in business today but has had the privilege of stamping its name on some of the most important Patek Philippe and Rolex timepieces of the 20th century.

    The story of the Patek Philippe reference 2499 is well known today among collectors and scholars. Launched in 1951, the model replaced its predecessor reference 1518 and was made for a period of 34 years until 1985, in four different series. A total of 349 pieces were made, making this a highly exclusive reference in the company’s history. The model can be generally divided by the following characteristics:

    First series, like the present example: Square chronograph buttons, applied Arabic numerals and tachometer scale.

    Second series: Round chronograph buttons, either applied baton or applied Arabic numerals and tachometer scale, of which the present lot is an example.

    Third series: Round chronograph buttons, applied baton numerals and outer seconds divisions.

    Fourth series: Round chronograph buttons, applied baton numerals, outer seconds divisions and sapphire crystal.

    Originally, Patek Philippe had chosen Vichet to make cases for the brand new reference 2499, but then, shortly after, switched to Wenger. The Vichet cases are known to have more pronounced and elongated lugs than those produced by Wenger. It is commonly accepted that the very first reference 2499 with Wenger case bore the movement number 868'341 - this timepiece was discovered in 2018. Yet, the discovery of this fresh-to-the-market timepiece forever alters the history of Patek Philippe timepieces: with a movement number of 868'340, it is definitively the earliest reference 2499 with a Wenger case ever known. Even more stunningly, the present timepiece is most notably the "big brother" of the aforementioned reference 2499 discovered in 2018. One movement number apart, both timepieces are almost identical as they share the exact dial configuration and Serpico y Laino signature, with this timepiece retaining its original Gay Frères bracelet stamped 1.52 and stamped SYL for the retailer. Most interesting, research shows that both watches were delivered on the same day - March 2, 1956. In total, only two examples of reference 2499s are known to bear this retailer's signature, making this timepiece one of the most important reference 2499s ever in existence.

    Its quality is unparalleled and can only be described as spectacular. Displaying full, crisp and strong case, the fluting to the lugs are all crisp and visible. The side of the lugs display the original factory satin finish. A hallmark is visible to the lower right of the case, and the outside case back is stamped S.&L., along with "18K" which is correct for watches exported to South America. Even the inside of the lug is stamped "756", referencing the case number of the timepiece. Such untouched and original timepieces rarely come at auction, and when they do, it is a noteworthy event.

    The dial too, is preserved in excellent and extraordinary condition. It has not seen any tampering throughout its lifetime, and all hard enamel graphics are present. The lacquer on top of the dial has never been disturbed, and the watch boasts a warm, golden-like tone on the dial. The bottom of the dial is of course the most groundbreaking detail as it proudly displays "Serpico y Laino Caracas". Furthermore, the back of the dial is engraved with the movement number 868340. Barely displaying any signs of aging, it is the best-preserved version of its kind. The timepiece even retains its original crystal with very minor "crackling" on the surface, showing its originality and never-touched state of preservation.

    Even rarer still, the heavy and luxurious yellow gold bracelet is also stamped SYL for the retailer. Manufactured by Gay Frères, the clasp is stamped 1.57 for the first quarter of 1957. One can conclude the bracelet was ordered by the client as a special addition to complement the beautiful wristwatch.

    Such spectacularly preserved examples hardly ever grace the market. Yet, to have one, retailed by Serpico y Laino and further accompanied with a retailer-stamped Gay Frères bracelet, is virtually unheard of. Indeed, the discovery of this timepiece is history-changing, giving the collecting community so much in terms of both scholarship and collectibility.

  • 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. 2499
An extremely important, astonishingly well-preserved and fresh-to-the-market yellow gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with retailer-signed bracelet, retailed by Serpico y Laino

37.5mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed, dial, case and clasp further stamped for Serpico y Laino

CHF2,000,000 - 4,000,000 

Sold for CHF3,539,000

Contact Specialist

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

The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV

Geneva Auction 5 & 7 November 2021