With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with silvered dial, applied gold hour markers and tachometer scale in 1942 and its subsequent sale on 21 April 1943. Furthermore delivered with the original fitted presentation box.
The perpetual chronograph wristwatch offered here for sale takes a most prominent position in the family of reference 1518 watches. It is not only one of the most interesting discoveries in recent years in the field of complicated Patek Philippe wristwatches but certainly also one of the best examples of this legendary model ever to be offered at auction. The experienced collector will immediately notice its particularity, the designation "CALENDRIER PERPÉTUEL" above the day and month windows, never seen in any other reference 1518. In fact, until May 2007 when a Patek Philippe reference 1526 with a similar feature ("CALEND. PERPÉTUEL", interestingly made a year after the present reference 1518) was sold in this saleroom, such unusual designation was only known from Patek Philippe's 1940s advertisements. One can only speculate about the purport of this rather remarkable inscription. The most plausible theory would certainly be the marketing of the world's first perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch, unquestionably one of Patek Philippe's most important developments instrumental in distancing the manufacture from competitors at the time. Launched in 1941 and discontinued in 1952, a total of only 281 examples of reference 1518 were made in its 13 years of production.
The advertisment hypothesis is supported by the fact that the present reference 1518 is one of the earliest examples of the model ever made, further contributing to its exclusivity and rendering it a historical witness for a period of major social and technical changes.
Purchased by the current owner at auction in 2007 when it was offered by the family of the original owner and not worn since decades, neither by the actual nor the previous owners and hardly used even by the original owner, it shows only very light signs of surface wear. The case is full and retains its original case proportions to the best extent. The dial has never been restored or cosmetically enhanced in any way and displays an incredibly rich patina formed over the years. The hard enamel signature and scales are, consequently, as raised as the connoisseur would expect.
The presence of the original fitted presentation box from the 1940s, featuring a wider format exclusively reserved for the larger and more substantial models such as reference 1518, further enhances the rarity of this exceptional timepiece.
It can be said without exaggeration that the present "CALENDRIER PERPÉTUEL" 1518 cannot but become a centerpiece in any of the world's most important collections.
For a black and white archival image showing a reference 1518 with inscription Perpetual Calendar above the day and month windows see Technique and History of the Swiss Watch by Eugène Jaquet & Alfred Chapuis, p. 208, pl. 160.
The standard models of reference 1518 are illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, first edition p. 231 pl. 386, second edition p. 303 pl. 459 and in Armbanduhren - 100 Jahre Entwicklungsgeschichte by Kahlert, Mühe, Brunner, second edition p. 127.