Patek Philippe - The New York Watch Auction: EIGHT New York Saturday, June 10, 2023 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: 1952
    Reference No: 2481
    Movement No: 701’742
    Case No: 668’409
    Model Name: "Pristine Forest"
    Material: 18K yellow gold and enamel
    Calibre: Manual, calibre 27 SC, 18 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Crocodile
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K yellow gold Patek Philippe buckle
    Dimensions: 36.5mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with “pristine forest” cloisonné enamel dial in 1952 and its subsequent sale on May 15th 1954, 2014 Patek Philippe service estimate, and original presentation box.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Phillips is honored to offer this previously unknown and extraordinary Patek Philippe wristwatch with cloisonné enamel dial. Consigned by the family of the original owner, the watch has remained in the family for nearly 70 years since its purchase in 1954. The vibrant colors and workmanship displayed on the spectacular dial’s scene, referred to by the brand as “tropical landscape”, “forêt vierge”, or “pristine forest”, exemplifies the absolute mastery of craft that places Patek Philippe at the apex for collectors worldwide.

    Patek Philippe’s reference 2481 is one of Patek Philippe’s most iconic time-only watches of the mid 20th century. At 36.8mm in diameter, it is affectionately known by collectors as “King Size”, and when introduced into the market in 1950, it was one of the largest wristwatches ever made by the brand. The model is instantly recognizable due its case design. Realized by Bernard Dubois, it features elongated claw lugs and a concave bezel, giving the watch a remarkable presence on the wrist – a modernist departure from the reserved and classic proportions of the Calatrava wristwatch. The reference 2481 is powered by the legendary caliber 27SC, which was considered to be amongst the very best wristwatch movements with center seconds of its era. The reference was not only available with the standard silvered dial but also, on extremely rare occasions, with cloisonné enamel dials, depicting various motifs such as landscapes, like the present watch, maps, and even portraits of renowned personalities.

    Cloisonné enamel is considered one of the finest and most complex dial fabrication techniques in high horology. Fine gold wires are first placed on a metal base to define the subject of the enamel. The sections created with the wire are then filled with powdered enamel colored by metal oxides and fired, which then solidifies the enamel, resulting in a beautiful work of art.

    Compared with modern enamel, vintage enamel dials feature colors which are especially deep, glossy, and translucent. The skilled artisans who created these exceptional scenes worked with mercury, lead and cyanide, which in the 1940s and 50s, were not known for their dangerous health effects, but were subsequently banned by governments. Due to their cost and the limited number of skilled artisans capable of such work, cloisonné enamel dials were made in small numbers and very few were sold during the mid-20th century.

    Confirmed on its Extract from the Archives, the “pristine forest” cloisonné dial depicts a tropical setting with palm trees and fruits. Its colors, ranging from a deep cobalt blue, to an intense yellow, are stunning and iridescent – enhanced by its perfect state of preservation. Sparing no expense, all dial graphics including the outer minute track and brand logo are raised hard enamel. Applied gold Roman numerals and dot index hour markers, gold feuille hands, and a blued steel seconds hand complete the elegant and timeless aesthetic.

    The present watch is preserved in outstanding condition, and the dial is free of any restorations. The case is incredibly crisp, with strong hallmarks and its original factory finishing and proportions still present. From our research, it is believed to be one of only 10 examples produced with this dial type.

    The importance of this model is well recognized by the brand itself: two similar, 18 karat yellow gold examples with the “Tropical Landscape” dial motif are housed in the Patek Philippe museum. That represents approximately 20% of the total production of reference 2481 believed produced with this tropical landscape theme.

    Phillips is delighted to present this truly breath-taking and important cloisonné enamel wristwatch. It has been nearly a decade since a previously unknown cloisonné enamel reference 2481 has appeared on the market, making the present example a truly rare opportunity for the discerning connoisseur.


  • 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. 2481
An exceptional, fresh-to-market, and extremely well-preserved yellow gold wristwatch with cloisonné enamel “pristine forest” dial with center seconds and presentation box

36.5mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed

$600,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $1,117,600

Contact Specialist

Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas
+1 (212) 940-1293
Isabella Proia
Head of Sale, New York
+1 (212) 940 1285

The New York Watch Auction: EIGHT

New York Auction 10 - 11 June 2023