• IMPORTANT WATCHES Including A  auction at Christies

    Sale 1369


    16 November 2009, Geneva

  • Lot 220

    Patek Philippe. An extremely fine and rare 18K gold openface keyless lever tourbillon watch with Guillaume balance, Breguet numerals and Bulletin d'Observatoire


    Price Realised  


    Patek Philippe. An extremely fine and rare 18K gold openface keyless lever tourbillon watch with Guillaume balance, Breguet numerals and Bulletin d'Observatoire
    Signed Patek Philippe & Co., Geneve, movement no. 198'017, case no. 623'743, movement manufactured in 1925, encased and sold in 1942
    Cal. 19''' nickel-finished Extra lever movement engraved PXP, numbered twice and stamped twice with the Geneva seal, 18 jewels, Guillaume balance with gold poising screws, polished steel three arm one minute tourbillon cage by Hector Golay, central jewel carried in gold screwed chaton, blued steel hairspring, gold cuvette, silvered matte dial, applied gold Breguet numerals, gold moon-style hands, subsidiary seconds, circular plain case, hidden hinges, case, cuvette, dial and movement signed
    53 mm. diam.

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    With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the movement of the present watch in 1925. It was sold with silvered dial and raised gold Breguet numerals on 15 April 1942. The Extract furthermore confirms that the Geneva Observatory First Class certificate was obtained in 1931/1932. Furthermore delivered with contemporary Patek Philippe fitted wooden presentation box.

    The present watch is amongst the most impressive tourbillon watches by Patek Philippe ever offered at auction. It was conceived by the celebrated watchmaker, inventor and engineer Hector Golay, then delivered to Patek Philippe in Geneva and finished by the highly skilled watchmakers in their workshops.

    Between the years 1931 and 1947, the watch participated at several Geneva Observatory Category B timing contests and achieved the first prize in 1929 (see Reinhard Meis Das Tourbillon, p. 352) and according to the accompanying letters and copies from the Geneva Observatory also in 1931 and in 1947. Its movement had been prepared and adjusted by the gifted and prominent precision adjuster François Moudoux.

    The tourbillon watch offered here for auction combines all aspects of requested by the demanding collector: one of the most discerning complications, the tourbillon regulator, fitted in a state of the art gold case with hidden hinges and a much sought after dial with Breguet numerals.

    The Tourbillon
    On 10 November 1801, horological legend Abraham Louis Breguet (1747-1823) received a patent for his ingenious tourbillon invention. Breguet designed the tourbillon (or whirlwind) to compensate for fluctuations and errors in time measurement caused by the position a watch is placed in. For example, watches with traditional movements may keep excellent time when resting on a desk horizontally, but when that same watch is placed vertically in a pocket, gravity affects the frequency or rate of the escapement and thus its accuracy.

    Breguet's invention compensated for these gravitational effects by placing the escapement in a revolving carriage. As the tourbillon carriage revolves (usually one entire revolution per minute), its position constantly changes and consequently the fluctuations in rate caused by gravity are averaged out. Once a tourbillon watch is properly adjusted, the effects of gravity are essentially nullified, regardless of how it is positioned.

    Precision timekeeping has always been vital to the scientific community, and in 1873, the first annual chronometer competition was held at the Geneva Astronomical Observatory. Rigorous quantitative internationally recognized testing standards were established. The testing, which initially lasted for 40 days, consisted of placing the watches in various positions and temperature conditions. The prestigious watchmakers Patek Philippe were awarded First Prize in the competition as early as 1884.

    Pre-Lot Text



    Listed in Das Tourbillon by Reinhard Meis, p. 352.