Patek Philippe - The Geneva Watch Auction: XVIII Geneva Friday, November 3, 2023 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: 1955
    Reference No: 2438-1
    Movement No: 888'165
    Case No: 2'619'204
    Model Name: "Secondi al Centro"
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 27SCQ, 18 jewels, stamped three times with the Geneva Seal
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K yellow gold Patek Philippe pin buckle
    Dimensions: 37mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming the production of the present timepiece in 1955 and its subsequent sale on the 7th May, 1963.
    Literature: The present watch is prominently illustrated in Armband Uhren by Giampiero Negretti and Franco Nencini, pages 164 and 165.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Reference 2438/1 is without a doubt one of the most important models ever made by Patek Philippe and, ironically, also one that is still mostly undiscovered by the larger community.

    With a production of about 60-70 pieces in yellow and pink gold, it is by far the rarest perpetual calendar model ever made in series by the brand - consider that the better known references 1518 and 2499 were made respectively in about 281 and 349 examples.

A waterproof model, such rarity is dictated by its unusual positioning in the Patek production: the brand was known for high-end complicated evening pieces, not tool watches. Thus, an enormously costly gold perpetual calendar watch with waterproof capabilities made quite little sense to their clientele.

    In fact, the model is the very first serially produced waterproof perpetual calendar wristwatch. highlighting how little the market was ready for such a wristwatch, considering that no similar proposal will be made by any brand after its discontinuation. Collectors had to wait the 1980s with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak to see another serially produced waterproof/resistant perpetual calendar wristwatch.

    Together with its non-waterproof sibling ref 2497, it was launched in 1951 and remained in production until 1963. As an added layer of interest, they were the world’s first Patek Philippe perpetual calendars wristwatches with center seconds. No such complication has been then produced by the Swiss manufacturer until 1993, when reference 5050 was launched. Aesthetically, reference 2438/1 is a gem of horological design with its balanced symmetry, spectacular curves, and large case size. It is very similar to that of the iconic reference 2499 that was launched at about the same time - and was actually made (with few exceptions) by the same casemaker: Wenger - in fact sharing the exact same ethos bar the presence of the chronograph module and the removal to the center of the running seconds at 9 o’clock.
    It is believed that only 35 examples of references 2438/1 in yellow gold were produced and is generally divided into two different series:
- First series, with applied Arabic numerals and feuille hands. Second series, such as the present watch, with applied baton numerals and dauphine hands.

    It is important to point out that the addition of the center seconds could not be achieved by re-working the movement of reference 2499 (cal. 13’’-130), thus Patek employed 179 consecutively numbered (888’000 to 888’178) calibers 27SC - the best center seconds movement of the time - and created a perpetual module for them birthing cal. 27SCQ (Second au Centre Quantième). The consecutive numeration of movements is in itself extremely unusual for Patek Philippe (non other perpetual calendar models present it), thus highlighting how special of a project this was to the company’s management at the time.
    The present watch actually offers an additional quirk, never seen before: it’s Geneva Seal-marked movement is stamped not once or twice, as usually seen, but actually there times with the Seal. Most likely a production mistake, it makes the present movement a “one-of-a-kind” intellectual quirk which will delight the connoisseur.

    With its highly complicated movement and sporty waterproof case that was decades ahead of its time, one can only be mind blown by Patek Philippe's thinking out of the box, at a time where it was unimaginable to wear such complicated timepieces whilst partaking in activities requesting intense efforts. Offered in stunning condition, enormously attractive, marking the debut to the world of waterproof perpetual calendars and remaining the rarest perpetual calendar model ever serially made by the brand, this timepiece is destined to a place of utmost prominence in any of the most important vintage watch collections.

  • 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. 2438-1
A supremely scarce, highly collectible and very important yellow gold perpetual calendar wristwatch with center seconds, moonphases and screw-down caseback

37mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed

CHF250,000 - 500,000 

Sold for CHF533,400

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The Geneva Watch Auction: XVIII

Geneva Auction 3 - 4 November 2023