Reference 2526 and its successor 3428 are undisputedly amongst the most elegant and distinguished vintage watches ever made.
Reference 2526 was introduced into the market in 1952 and was Patek Philippe's first self-winding watch ever made, starting with movement number 760'000 (delivered in July 1953 to Mr. J.B. Champion, one of Patek Philippe's faithful clients. This watch, fitted with a gold bracelet, is today the pride of a discerning collector). The model features the legendary calibre 12-600 AT which was granted Swiss patent No. 289758 in 1953 for "a self-winding mechanism for a wristwatch movement using the energy supplied by a rotary mass causing an eccentric part to transmit a swinging movement to an organ of the mechanism". The first 500 examples of reference 2526 were fitted with the earliest version of calibre 12'''600 without ball bearing, rendering these watches particularly rare and collectable.
The majority of reference 2526 was cased in yellow gold, a small series in pink gold and an exceedingly limited number in white gold and platinum.
Mainly fitted with enamel dials with applied gold baton numerals, the white gold and platinum examples were also available with silvered metal dials with diamond indexes.
Few models of this legendary wristwatch are known to exist to date with different dial colours, materials and layouts, possibly made to special order for the first owner of the watch. Rather sensationally, this auction offers a variety of reference 2526 models fitted with such "exotic" dials:
Lot 219: the only reference 2526 in gold with black dial and luminous numerals, retailed by Serpico y Laino, known to exist
Lot 220: one of only four recorded references 2526 with enamel dial and applied Breguet numerals
Lot 221: a very rare version of a white gold reference 2526 with enamel dial and applied baton numerals
Lot 222: the only reference 2526 in pink gold with unique dial layout featuring baton and Arabic numerals
A paragon of understatement and timeless class combined with a state-of-the art movement, reference 2526 has significantly influenced the popularity of wristwatches featuring enamel dials.
In 1960, reference 2526 was replaced by reference 3428, equipped with the second generation self-winding movement, calibre 27-460 (see lot 218).
Reference 2526 is illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, first edition pp. 168-169, second edition pp. 213, 216-217.