A very rare, well-preserved, and important yellow gold perpetual calendar wristwatch with moon phase, center seconds and screw-back case

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  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: 1955
    Reference No: 2438/1
    Movement No: 888'137
    Case No: 2'602'737
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 27 SC Q, 18 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K yellow gold
    Dimensions: 37mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, and buckle signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1955 and its subsequent sale on July 11th, 1958.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Vintage Patek Philippe perpetual calendars (either simple or associated with a chronograph) are not only considered by the cognoscenti as being the most beautiful in the world, but also are easily recognizable thanks to their elegant, taut lines and easy legibility, due to the day and date apertures at 12 o’clock on the dial.

    References 2438/1, with a screw down caseback, and 2497 with a snap-on caseback, were launched in 1951. They were the world’s first perpetual calendars with center seconds. 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 second series that launched at about the same time.

    The references 2497 and 2438/1 replaced the reference 1526, which was introduced in 1941 as the world’s first serially-produced perpetual calendar wristwatch. The two new references were markedly different, with larger cases over the 34mm diameter of the 1526. While the reference 2438/1 was released shortly after the 2497, featured a screw back for water resistance, making it a robust timepiece perfect for an active lifestyle that was truly decades ahead of its time. Of all the serialized complicated Patek Philippe watches from this era, the 2497 and 2438/1 are the rarest with a combined total of approximately 179 examples.

    Amongst these, it is believed that only 35 examples of references 2438/1 in yellow gold were produced of which 28 are known. Reference 2438/1 is generally divided into two different series:

    •first series with applied Arabic numeral and feuille hands

    •second series, like the present watch, with applied baton numerals and dauphine hands

    The present 2438/1 is well preserved with a Wenger case that remains in wonderful overall condition with sharp hallmarks and crisp bevels intact on all of its sloping, downturned lugs. The factory finish to the screw back is similarly crisp, and there are no marks visible to the notches from careless handling. The dial is completely original with the pleasingly aged varnish still present. With no signs of ever having been cleaned, washed, or restored in any way, the underlying silvered dial retains all of its original, raised, hard enamel printing with no losses. The watch features an English calendar with rectangular applied baton hour markers.

    The caliber 27 SC Q was the most exclusive of mechanical movements with superb, hand-finishing and decoration throughout, as attested by the Geneva Seal stamp. Appearing for only the second time at public auction, it originally came to market consigned by the family of original owner when first sold in 2011. When the reference 2438/1 was first released it was a revolutionary timepiece for its large size and technical movement – so ahead of its time, it’s perfectly sized for today’s tastes. Along with its companion piece the 2497, these two Patek Philippe watches are amongst the most classic mid-20th century timepieces. The present lot isvnot only wonderfully well-preserved and exceptionally rare but it remains to date the only Patek Philippe vintage perpetual calendar with a screw down caseback making it an outstanding choice for the discerning collector.

  • Maker Bio

    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 very rare, well-preserved, and important yellow gold perpetual calendar wristwatch with moon phase, center seconds and screw-back case

1955
37mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, and buckle signed

Estimate
$200,000 - 400,000 
CHF199,000-398,000
€181,000-363,000
HK$1,560,000-3,130,000

sold for $262,500

Contact Specialist
Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas & International Strategy Advisor
Senior Vice President
+1 212 940 1293
pboutros@phillips.com

GAME CHANGERS

New York Auction 10 December 2019