• Important Watches auction at Christies

    Sale 1383

    Important Watches

    14 November 2011, Geneva

  • Lot 253

    Patek Philippe. An extremely fine, large, rare and historically interesting 18K gold hinged single button chronograph wristwatch with sector dial


    Price Realised  


    Patek Philippe. An extremely fine, large, rare and historically interesting 18K gold hinged single button chronograph wristwatch with sector dial
    Signed Patek Philippe & Co., Geneve, movement no. 198'304, case no. 292'466, manufactured in 1929
    Cal. 13''' nickel-finished lever movement stamped with the Geneva seal, 23 jewels, bimetallic compensation balance, hinged gold cuvette, silvered sector dial, black hard enamel baton numerals and Arabic 6 and 12 to the inner chapter ring, outer railway five minute divisions, two subsidiary dials for constant seconds and 30 minutes register, circular case, hinged back centred by the engraved initials F.B., chronograph mechanism operated through the crown, later 18K gold Patek Philippe buckle, case, cuvette and movement signed and numbered, dial signed
    34 mm. diam.

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    With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with silvered dial, enamel hour markers, engraved "F.B." monogram on the case back in 1929 and its subsequent sale on 3 September 1936.

    The single button chronograph mechanism is considered to be amongst the most complex and sophisticated marvels of time measurement. Whereas the more commonly found operates the chronograph functions (start - stop - reset) through two buttons in the band, the single button chronograph controls all of these functions through the crown. The ébauches for these chronographs were commissioned by Patek Philippe and made by Victorin Piguet of Le Sentier. It is assumed that Patek Philippe produced single button chronograph wristwatches only between the mid -1920s and the late 1930s, housed in the typical 1920s tonneau cases or in the well-known "Officier" style cases, featuring either wire or screw lugs.

    Around the mid-1930s, Patek Philippe modernized these chronographs by finishing them in the celebrated reference 130 case with snap on back. The present watch however is the perfect combination as it features the larger size of 34 mm., a hinged back and cuvette but already the new Calatrava design. The modernist case combined with the elegant dial design featuring oversized subsidiary dials but no scientific scale whatsoever lend the watch a surprising look which can hardly be compared to any other known chronograph of Patek Philippe's pre-war production.

    Research shows that only two other examples of such early "Calatrava" style single button chronographs with hinged cases are known to have survived, one in Patek Philippe's own museum in Geneva, the other one in one of the world's most distinguished private collections. The present watch is understood to be one of two examples of such single button chronograph fitted with the attractive sector or "Aviator"-style dial design with the very architectural rectangular enamel hour markers, all confirmed by the Extract from the Archives, a superb feature on this master piece of 1930s watch design.

    The dial displays subtle signs of natural ageing one would expect on a wristwatch which, for over 60 years, was exposed to the elements. The original varnish protecting the dial from such influence has slightly lifted particularly to the right side and shows a sand-coloured patina, emphasizing that it has never been restored or cosmetically enhanced in any way. The case has also benefitted from a sensible polish and presents itself in a very attractive state of conservation.

    The combination of the, especially considering its age, very well and most originally preserved case, the rare sector dial, freshness to the market and private provenance render this watch a rare and early timepiece of considerable interest for any discerning collector.

    Similar examples of early single button chronograph wristwatches are described and illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, pp. 258 & 259.

    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.

    Pre-Lot Text