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    Sale 1348

    Important Pocket Watches and Wristwatches

    12 November 2007, Geneva

  • Lot 223

    Patek Philippe. An extremely important and unique stainless steel water-resistant perpetual calendar wristwatch with indirect sweep centre seconds, phases of the moon and luminous indexes


    Price Realised  


    Patek Philippe. An extremely important and unique stainless steel water-resistant perpetual calendar wristwatch with indirect sweep centre seconds, phases of the moon and luminous indexes
    Signed Patek Philippe & Co., Geneve, ref. 1591, movement no. 864'470, case no. 635'565, manufactured in 1944
    Cal. 12'''120 SC Q nickel-finished lever movement stamped with the Geneva seal, 20 jewels, bimetallic compensation balance, the silvered dial with luminous Arabic numerals, luminous hands, indirect sweep centre seconds, two windows for day and month, subsidiary dial combining date and phases of the moon, in circular water-resistant-type case with screw back, contemporary stainless steel Patek Philippe buckle, case, dial and movement signed
    35 mm. diam.

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    Accompanied by Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with silvered dial and luminous numerals in 1944 and its subsequent sale on 27 November 1944.

    This watch was unknown to literature and the market until 1996 when first offered at auction. Not only was it a sensation to scholars and collector’s of rare Patek Philippe wristwatches, it also brke the then world-record for any stainless steel wristwatch ever sold at auction. According to tradition, this watch was the pride of a Maharaja who enjoyed wearing the robust timepiece occasionally when playing polo. It was then given as a present to the man in charge of organizing the Maharaja's wedding. This information is supported by the fact that the watch was retailed by Favre-Leuba, Patek Philippe'’s agent for India at the time of its manufacture.

    This watch is believed to be the only stainless steel reference 1591 ever made and one of only two examples of this model known to exist to date; the second example is cased in yellow gold. Reference 1591 was the first centre seconds perpetual calendar wristwatch with water-resistant case ever made by Patek Philippe, rendering it the direct predecessor of the celebrated reference 2438/1. Interestingly, the present watch was eight years ahead of its nearest follower: it was only in 1951 that Patek Philippe started regular production of wristwatches with perpetual calendar and centre seconds, reference 2497, and another year later with screw-back case, reference 2438/1.

    The ébauche of the movement is based on Victorin Piguet's distinguished calibre 12''' S.C. with indirect centre seconds to which the perpetual calendar mechanism was added. At the time of production, the official designation for this movement was 12''' SC Q (seconde au centre quantième or centre seconds perpetual), still today a unique specification, which leads to the conclusion that the two movements were custom-made just for these two watches.

    Although early scholarship suspected that 12 examples of reference 1591 were made as of 1944, extensive research has resulted in the discovery of only these two examples, furthermore featuring consecutive movement numbers 864'470 (the present watch) and 864'471, both made in 1944. The movement numbers preceding and succeeding these two numbers do not match the specifications and it can therefore be safely assumed that the manufacture of reference 1591 remained at the experimental stage of only two examples.

    The present watch is most certainly the only stainless steel perpetual calendar wristwatch by Patek Philippe ever cased in a water-proof case. In fact, the case of this watch is genetically clearly associated with the famous reference 1463 - the only chronograph with screw-back case ever made by the Geneva firm. It features the same diameter and shape and its association becomes evident when comparing the shape of the lugs. Ref. 1591, also fitted with an inner soft-iron cap protecting the movement from magnetic fields, is slightly thicker, due to the higher construction of the movement. The luminous numerals, confirmed by the Extract of Patek Philippe's archives, are closely associated to military and explorer's watches - as are the centre seconds.

    Patek Philippe's production of stainless steel watches was always extremely limited, for obvious reasons. Wristwatches with perpetual calendar in stainless steel are virtually unknown and today only six examples are known to the market: Four references 1518 (perpetual calendar with chronograph), one reference 1526 (perpetual calendar with subsidiary seconds) and one reference 1591 - the present watch. They all represent the ultimate value in collecting wristwatches, from a historical, esthetical and technical standpoint.

    The present watch is a mile-stone in the history of complicated wristwatches by Patek Philippe and must be considered one of the finest and rarest trophies for the discerning collector to appear in public to date.

    Special Notice

    On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in lots consigned for sale which may include guaranteeing a minimum price or making an advance to the consignor that is secured solely by consigned property. This is such a lot. This indicates both in cases where Christie's holds the financial interest on its own, and in cases where Christie's has financed all or a part of such interest through a third party. Such third parties generally benefit financially if a guaranteed lot is sold successfully and may incur a loss if the sale is not successful.