Patek Philippe - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XIV Hong Kong Friday, May 27, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: Circa 1974
    Reference No: 866/26
    Movement No: 932'253
    Case No: 433'568
    Model Name: “Retour du Verger”
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 17”’170, 18 jewels
    Dimensions: 47mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by a blank Patek Philippe Certificate of Origin, product literature, sales tag, archival image and presentation box.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Enamelling has always been an important craft for timepieces, especially at Patek Philippe. Without a doubt one of the highest forms of watch decoration, the inherent artisanal character of this technique, it is a natural consequence that some enamellers have risen as “champions” of their fields given their superior skills.

    The present Patek Philippe open face pocket watch ref. 866/26 in yellow gold features an exquisite miniature enamel painting of “Retour du Verger” or “Return from the Orchard” by Spanish painter Francisco Ribera Gómez from the early 20th century, it was reinterpreted by master enameller Mrs. Hélène May-Mercier at Patek Philippe in 1974. Mrs Hélène May-Mercier was an enamel miniature painter at Patek Philippe in Geneva from the 1970s until the 1990s. During her career she embellished around 20 watches as well as some cloisonné enamel Dome clocks.

    Extremely impressive, the miniature enamel scene on the caseback required various techniques to execute. The difficulty in the execution of this miniature led in the composition of the palette for the colours of the skin of the model. Face and arms are drafted on white ground, then painted in the soft colours salmon/brick-red. With an admirable precision the cheeks have been slightly shaded. Regarded by many as one of the most talented, precise and demanded miniature enamellers. Prior to applying the colours onto the relevant object, Mercier creates small colour platelets which she uses as colour palettes for further studies and trials.

    Offered in excellent overall condition and accompanied by its full set of accessories including a Certificate of Origin confirming the miniature enamel painting and an archival image of the present timepiece, this is a fantastic opportunity for collectors of fine pocket watches and enamelled timepieces to acquire an important work of art by one of the greatest enamellers, Mrs. Hélène May-Mercier.

  • 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. 866/26
A very fine and unique yellow gold open face pocket watch with small seconds, miniature enamelled “Retour du Verger” after F. Ribera signed by Hélène May-Mercier, Certificate of Origin and presentation box

Circa 1974
47mm diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

HK$625,000 - 1,250,000 

Sold for HK$2,772,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia 
+852 2318 2031

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XIV

Hong Kong Auction 27 - 28 May 2022