• Important Watches auction at Christies

    Sale 2753

    Important Watches

    17 December 2013, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 228

    Patek Philippe. A Fine and Rare 18k Gold Chronograph Wristwatch with Pulsometer and Original Certificate

    SIGNED PATEK PHILIPPE & CO., GENÈVE, REF. 1463, MOVEMENT NO. 867'440, CASE NO. 653'474, MANUFACTURED IN 1948

    Price Realised  

    Patek Philippe. A Fine and Rare 18k Gold Chronograph Wristwatch with Pulsometer and Original Certificate
    Signed Patek Philippe & Co., Genève, Ref. 1463, Movement No. 867'440, Case No. 653'474, Manufactured in 1948
    Cal. 13" mechanical movement, 23 jewels, metal dust cover, silvered matte dial, applied gold Roman and baton numerals, outer railway minute divisions and pulsometer scale, two subsidiary dials for 30 minute register and constant seconds, circular water-resistant-type case, two round chronograph buttons in the band, screw back engraved Kemp Clark, case, dial, and movement signed
    34.5mm diam.


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    With Patek Philippe Certificate of Origin dated August 16, 1949. Further accompanied by a Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1948 and its subsequent sale on August 16th of the following year, and a Patek Philippe red presentation box.

    To the best of our knowledge this watch has never before been offered in public.

    The Dr. Kemp Clark Reference 1463

    Reference 1463 was Patek Philippe's first water resistant chronograph wristwatch, produced in three series. It also was the only chronograph made during the 1940's and 1950's that featured a screw back water-resistant case with round pushers. The present watch is part of the second series, which feature a thinner bezel than the first series and lugs that curl downward.

    The watch was purchased as a present for the original owner while his mother was abroad. The watch was purchased by Mrs. Dilworth Hager, Dr. Clark's mother, for 1290 Swiss Francs on August 15, 1949. The dial originally featured a tachometer scale, as most frequently seen on the reference 1463, but was changed at the request of the owner's parents to feature a pulsometer scale, which would be more fitting for their son, who was enrolled in medical school at the time.

    A tachometer scale is commonly linked to sport and racing timing, and is often found on chronograph watches. The primary use of a tachometer scale is to measure speed over a fixed distance, starting the chronograph at a specific point and stopping it once a second reference point is reached, such as a mile marker. A pulsometer scale works by counting the number of pulses, and referring to the number on the scale to determine the pulse rate.

    The Extract notes that the original tachometer scale was replaced by the pulsometer dial on the Patek Philippe premises on August 16th, 1949, the date of sale. A receipt dated August 15th, 1949 indicates that a sum of 1290 Swiss Francs was paid for "wrist stop watch, No. 867'440 waterproof in yellow gold 18 carats". A handwritten note in French, dated August 15th, 1949, notes the request for a pulsometer scale. In order to change the scale on the dial, the watch would have to remain at Patek Philippe and later be sent to the buyers after their trip in Lucerne had ended. A letter dated August 16th, 1949 was sent to the buyer, staying at the Grand Hotel National in Lucerne, confirming that they will receive the watch in due course.

    According to another letter from Gübelin, the buyers also purchased two watches from their manufacturer while in Lucerne, and those items were delivered to them while they were staying aboard the SS Queen Mary, which would depart on September 7th, 1949 from Southampton, England. It is likely that the same was done with the watch purchased at Patek Philippe.

    Dr. Kemp Clark (1925-2007)

    With the specially engraved case back, the watch was worn throughout Dr. Kemp Clark's medical career, as he witnessed many important medical and historical events.

    Dr. Kemp Clark went on in his career to preside over numerous neurological associations, including the American Association of Neurological Surgeons from 1981-82, the Society of Neurological Surgeons from 1983-84, and the World Federation of Neurological Surgeons from 1985-1989. He created the neurosurgery service at Southwestern Medical School and Parkland Hospital in 1956, and the neurosurgery residency program in 1962. Under his leadership, the program became one of the best in the country. He continued to dedicate his career to resident education, and served as both the Chairman of the Residency Review Committee for Neurological Surgery and the Chairman of the American Board of Neurological Surgery. In addition to his own contributions to the field as a successful neurosurgeon, Dr. Kemp Clark worked tirelessly to inspire neurosurgery residents to go on and contribute to the field.

    The present example of this gentleman's sport watch, with the original certificate and correspondence, rich connections to American and medical history, and freshness to the auction market, is a rare find.

    The reference 1463 is illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by M. Huber & A. Banbery, 1998 edition, page 267.

    Portions of the Proceeds of this Sale will Benefit Charity.

    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

    Property of a Descendant of the Original Owner

    Dr. Kemp Clark rushed to the Parkland Memorial Hospital at 12:20 PM on November 22, 1963. He declared President John F. Kennedy deceased at 1 PM. According to the doctor's family, this Patek Philippe Reference 1463 with Pulsemeter is the watch that Dr. Clark was wearing on that tragic day.

    November 22, 1963

    As the attending Neurosurgeon on this fateful day, Dr. Clark was responsible for calling President Kennedy's time of death. Arriving in the chaos of the moment, Dr. Clark entered the Parkland Hospital emergency room and immediately assisted the medical staff in assessing the condition President. Within minutes of his arrival, all attempts at saving the President's life were determined futile, and Dr. Clark made the call that 1300 was the President's official time of death.

    A half century ago, one of the darkest hours of America's post-war history was witnessed by Dr. Clark and his watch. He and his watch were both at the center of these events, minute by minute, second by second. Dr. Clark signed the death certificate and delivered the tragic news to the President's wife moments after. Mrs. Kennedy responded by saying that she already knew that her husband had passed and thanked Dr. Clark and his team for their efforts before being taken to Air Force One.