Patek Philippe - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: SIX Hong Kong Monday, May 28, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: 1959
    Reference No: 2438/1
    Movement No: 888'175
    Case No: 2'619'214
    Material: 18K pink gold
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 27 SC, 18 jewels, stamped twice with the Geneva seal
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather strap
    Clasp/Buckle: Patek Philippe 18K pink gold pin buckle
    Dimensions: 37mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and pin buckle signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Patek Philippe Certificat d'Origine et de Garantie dated April 4, 1970, envelope, original purchase invoice dated April 4, 1970, fitted presentation box and outer packaging. Furthermore delivered with Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1959 and its subsequent sale on April 4, 1970.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The three decades stretching between 1940 and 1970 are considered the “golden age” of wrist horology. This is because enough time had passed since the inception of wristwatches to the general public (which happened during WWI) for the market to gather momentum and grow to the point of having enough clients to justify the high production costs involved with complicated timepieces. The advent of quartz watches and the consequent crisis will put an end to this idyllic period.

    During this time, Patek Philippe serially launched six perpetual calendar models: in the 1940s, reference 1526 and its chronographic counterpart reference 1518; in the 1950s, center seconds reference 2947 and its chronographic non-center seconds brethren reference 2499, and in the 1960s, automatic reference 3448.
    All these models are considered absolute masterpieces, grail watches in their own right, given the historical importance for the brand, extremely high quality, and very scarce production ranging from little more than 100 pieces (ref. 2497) to less than 600 pieces (reference 3448)

    In production from 1952 to 1963, it is the waterproof twin of reference 2497 and by far the most elusive serially produced perpetual calendar model made by the brand during that time. The reference is so rare that it hardly ever shows up at auction and it is not yet well known by the public at large. However, in the eyes of some high-end Patek Philippe collectors, it is considered possibly the most collectible of them all, not only in virtue of its rarity, but also of its aesthetics, movement and case design, especially the last two setting it well apart from other perpetual calendar models.

    In 1946, Patek Philippe launched the center-second calibre 27SC, considered now the best of its generation. The company then decided to create a perpetual calendar with moon phases version of it, and in 1952 cal. 27 SCQ was born. The importance of the movement for the company is underlined by the fact that all movements 27 SCQ made are sequentially numbered: from 888’000 to 888’179 - and thus the movement housed in the present watch is the fourth last to be made. This does not happen with any of the other perpetual calendar references of the time.

    With the exception of movement 888’000 - which was used for a unique piece - the movements were used in reference 2497 (about 115 examples), and indeed in reference 2438/1. Consequently, reference 2438 is the rarest Patek Philippe serially produced vintage perpetual calendar: its circa 65 pieces production makes it nearly twice as rare as reference 2497 (the second rarest model), and more than five times scarcer than reference 2499.

    Aesthetically speaking, the looks are virtually identical to those of reference 2497, which in turn is basically a "chronograph-less" version of reference 2499, hallowed without reserves as one of the most successful and inspired designs to ever bless the watchmaking industry. The case maker which executed this masterpiece is Wenger, one of the best case makers of the time, identified by the hallmark featuring the number 1 inside a key.

    Rarity however is only part of the appeal of the watch: the historical importance of the model in the history of the brand - and of watchmaking - is simply paramount. The reference is a living contradiction, featuring a two-piece water-resistant case with screw back. Patek Philippe has always been the champion of very complicated dress watches. Before the introduction of the Nautilus in 1976, no sport’s or diver’s watch was made by the company. The only waterproof vintage models serially made are simple time only watches (such as reference 565), or at most chronograph pieces (ref. 1463). The concession of making a waterproof perpetual calendar is absolutely mind-blowing, and it can be explained by the increased interest of the public into recreational diving. In fact, the idea of a waterproof perpetual calendar wristwatch was a the time so over-the-top that the 65 examples of reference 2438/1 appear to be the only such pre-1970 example: if one wants a golden age waterproof perpetual calendar, there is simply no other option. This also means that the model is the first serially produced waterproof perpetual calendar wristwatch in history.

    To the remarkable history and impossible rarity of the reference, the present watch adds the fact that it is a pink gold example. It is estimated that the overall production of pink gold 2438 was extremely limited, probably stopping at little more than 10 examples. After all, if a waterproof perpetual calendar was already perplexing for the public in the standard yellow gold configuration, it is no surprise for the exotic pink gold version to be scarce beyond words.
    This is a level of rarity comparable to the most coveted timepieces in the world, such as reference 1518 in steel or first seres 2499 in pink.

    Finally, this absolute masterpiece is offered together with its original Certificate and even the original purchase invoice, documenting its acquisition at the Geneva Salon on April 4, 1970 for the amount of 6’490 CHF, a 5% discount from the original 7’340. It is interesting to note how, while the invoice correctly mentions the pink gold case, the certificate bear mention of a yellow gold case: it would appear that even in Patek Philippe, sometimes, mistakes were made.

    Combining absolute rarity, landmark historical importance, a “full set” condition and impeccable design, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the farsighted collector to acquire what can be described without exaggeration as one of the most important wristwatches of the past century.

  • 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 highly important, very fine and extremely rare pink gold perpetual calendar wristwatch with center seconds, moon phases, screw back, Certificate, invoice and box

37mm diameter
Case, dial, movement and pin buckle signed

HK$3,500,000 - 7,000,000 

Sold for HK$4,540,000

Contact Specialist
Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2030

Ziyong Ho
+852 9386 2032

Jill Chen
+852 2318 2033

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: SIX

Hong Kong Auction 29 May 2018