• Important Watches auction at Christies

    Sale 1376

    Important Watches

    15 November 2010, Geneva

  • Lot 284

    Audemars Piguet. A very fine, large and rare 18K gold chronograph wristwatch

    SIGNED AUDEMARS PIGUET, GENEVE, REF. 5522, NO. 49'676, MANUFACTURED IN 1950

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Audemars Piguet. A very fine, large and rare 18K gold chronograph wristwatch
    Signed Audemars Piguet, Geneve, ref. 5522, no. 49'676, manufactured in 1950
    Cal. 13''' VZAH nickel-finished lever movement, 21 jewels, silvered dial, applied gold baton and Arabic numerals, outer black five minute divisions and blue tachymetre scale, three engine-turned subsidiary dials for constant seconds, 30 minutes register and 12 hours registers, large circular case, snap on back, two rectangular chronograph buttons in the band, case, dial and movement signed
    40 mm. diam.


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    With Audemars Piguet contemporary burgundy presentation box.

    According to the Archives of Audemars Piguet, the present watch was manufactured in 1950.

    Audemars Piguet's vintage chronographs are exceptional timepieces but even amongst this category exists a hierarchy placing some ahead of the others. The present reference 5522 is doubtlessly one of these "leaders", remarkable for a variety of details, most notably its incredible size - the astounding diameter of 40 mm. projects it right to the pole position of the largest postwar chronograph wristwatches ever made. Not only bigger than any other vintage Audemars Piguet chronograph wristwatch, it exceeds all other protagonists in the league of oversized 1950s chronographs.

    Extensive research reveals two astounding facts: one, in 30 years of international auctions and anywhere in horological literature, no one recalls ever having seen or heard of the existence of this model. Secondly, thanks to the immensely kind support given by Audemars Piguet's archives, a black and white photograph was found showing the original reference 5522. Painstaking analysis and visual comparison of the present watch with the original archive image let any experienced scholar conclude that the watch offered here for auction is most likely the one and only shown on the illustrated period photograph. These two facts combined underline the immense rarity of this model and it is not at all unreasonable to presume that this chronograph remained the only one ever made.

    Of very large size for a wristwatch from the 1950s, it represents the perfect combination of mechanical complexity, attractive design composed of a highly elegant case and superb dial with the blue tachymetre scale, outstanding original and crisp case condition and the extreme rarity, lifting this trophy to the elite of 20th century watchmaking and collecting of the world's finest chronographs.

    Special Notice

    Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.