Patek Philippe - The New York Watch Auction: X New York Saturday, June 8, 2024 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Patek Philippe
    Year: 1913
    Movement No: 177’483; stamped “Extra Special”
    Case No: 407’656; inscribed “Esse Quam Videri”
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 19’’’, 21 jewels
    Dimensions: 50mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, cuvette, dial, and movement signed and numbered.
    Accessories: Accompanied by Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with “Extra Special” movement in 1913, and its subsequent sale on September 22nd, 1920. The extract further confirms the watch was issued a Geneva Observatory rating certificate on September 22nd, 1920.
    Provenance: Christie’s New York, December 14th, 2010, lot 79.
    Estate of Marilyn Prescott Graves

  • Provenance

    Christie’s New York, December 14th, 2010, lot 79.
    Estate of Marilyn Prescott Graves

  • Catalogue Essay

    Phillips is honored to offer this wonderful, open-face pocket chronometer owned by Henry Graves Jr. Widely considered one of the 20th century’s most important watch collectors, he is best remembered in the 21st century for his legendary competition with automobile entrepreneur James Ward Packard, to commission some of the most complicated timepieces ever produced. Graves would end up the ultimate victor, having commissioned the “Mona Lisa” of timepieces as described by Stacy Perman, author of “A Grand Complication”, the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication. Delivered in 1933, with 24 complications and requiring over 8 years of development, it was the most complicated timepiece ever made, holding that distinction for over half a century.

    Graves was born in 1868 to a prominent New York City family known for their banking and financial interests spanning railroads and cement – and dynastic wealth. Following in his father’s footsteps, he became an accomplished collector establishing himself as one of the most discerning and influential connoisseurs across genres. Today, Graves is recognized for his keen eye for quality and for sparing no expense to acquire some of the most exquisite timepieces ever made by brands such as Patek Philippe, Jules Jurgensen, and Vacheron Constantin.

    Before Graves’ pursuit of ultimate complications, he sought the highest performing, most accurate timepieces produced by the finest watchmaking brands. Always choosing 18 karat gold or platinum, he specifically requested from brands such as Patek Philippe, the #1 rated movements from annual chronometry competitions held at the Swiss Observatories – each hand-built and hand-adjusted by the brands’ best watchmakers. Equivalent to Formula 1 race cars, these “observatory chronometers” were a nod to Graves’ own pursuit of perfection and excellence. Before delivery to Graves, their cases would be engraved with his family motto, “Esse Quam Videri” - To Be Rather Than to Seem.

    The present lot is certainly one such example. Fitted with an extremely fine movement equipped with a Guillaume balance and designated “Extra Special” on its bridge, the accompanying “Extract from the Archives” confirms the watch was issued a Geneva Observatory rating in September 1920.

    According to research, the present lot was delivered to Bailey, Banks and Biddle on October 14th, 1921, and similar to other known Graves watches, it is engraved with the recognisable family crest and motto “Esse Quam Videri”. The watch first appeared at auction in December 2010 where it was also featured on the catalog’s cover, offered by the then owner who acquired the watch from the estate of Marilyn Prescott Graves (1932-1998), the granddaughter of Henry Graves Jr. She was the daughter of Duncan Preston Graves (1900-1977) and his sole heir.

    Consigned by the winning bidder in that 2010 auction, it has remained unused for the past 14 years and offered in the exact state of preservation as when it last appeared. The case, with hidden hinge, is very well preserved and has no signs of needless polishing with the family coat of arms remaining extremely crisp. Its enamel dial is utterly superb, a gorgeous cream color with black Breguet numerals, it features an up/down indicator at 12 o’clock typical of shipboard chronometers of the era, and is in flawless condition. Patek Philippe pocket chronometers with up and down indication are very rare in the marketplace – and even fewer are known to have been cased in yellow gold versus silver cases most often seen.

    Henry Graves Jr had a passion of horology both as a collector and was deeply involved in the design and customization of his timepieces, often working closely with watchmakers to create bespoke pieces that reflected his unique tastes and preferences.

    Whilst the exact number of Packard and Graves-commissioned timepieces aren’t known, approximately 30 have appeared on the market to-date. Accordingly, any time a Packard or Graves-owned timepiece is offered, the collecting world takes notice. These timepieces, including the present lot, are, without any doubt, the apex of fine watchmaking of the 20th century – the very best watches, made by the best brands for the world’s greatest collectors.

  • 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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An historically important, extremely rare, and exquisitely finished openface pocket watch chronometer with up-and-down indication, made for Henry Graves Jr.

50mm Diameter
Case, cuvette, dial, and movement signed and numbered.

$100,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $279,400

Contact Specialist

Paul Boutros
Deputy Chairman, Watches, Head of Watches, Americas
+1 (212) 940-1293

Isabella Proia
Head of Sale, New York
+1 (212) 940 1285

The New York Watch Auction: X

New York Auction 8 - 9 June 2024