• Important Watches auction at Christies

    Sale 1383

    Important Watches

    14 November 2011, Geneva

  • Lot 332

    Patek Philippe. An extremely fine and rare 18K gold perpetual calendar wristwatch with magnified day and date, sweep centre seconds, moon phases, screw back and luminous hands

    SIGNED PATEK PHILIPPE, GENEVE, REF. 2438/1, MOVEMENT NO. 888'099, CASE NO. 687'964, MANUFACTURED IN 1954

    Price Realised  

    Patek Philippe. An extremely fine and rare 18K gold perpetual calendar wristwatch with magnified day and date, sweep centre seconds, moon phases, screw back and luminous hands
    Signed Patek Philippe, Geneve, ref. 2438/1, movement no. 888'099, case no. 687'964, manufactured in 1954
    Cal. 27 SC Q nickel-finished lever movement stamped twice with the Geneva seal, 18 jewels, bimetallic balance, micrometer regulator, silvered matte dial, applied gold dot and Arabic numerals with luminous accents, gold luminous dauphine hands, sweep centre seconds, outer Arabic five minute divisions, two windows for day and month, subsidiary dial for moon phases and date, large circular water-resistant-type case, downturned fluted lugs, screw back, engraved Dean Witter 1958, case, dial and movement signed
    37 mm. diam.


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    With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1954 and its subsequent sale on 31 July 1957. Furthermore delivered with Dean Witter's journals Solo Safari, a wild game hunting trip to British East Africa in 1948, Meanderings of a Fisherman: a diary of fishing expedition from the American Pacific Northwest and Canadian West to Quebec and New Zealand, finished in 1955 and Shikar, a tiger and wild game hunting safari in India and Southeast Asia in 1961.

    Tradition, individualism, reliability and perfection are attributes that come to one's mind when describing both the present reference 2438/1 and its first owner, the iconic entrepreneur, philanthropist, sportsman and hunter Dean Witter: the perfect match rare to find and impossible to top.

    Reference 2438/1, Patek Philippe's only vintage perpetual calendar wristwatch made in series with a screw back, has always enjoyed enormous popularity amongst collectors, its masculine yet elegant look contributing to the immediate success of the legendary timepiece.

    The exclusivity of the specimen offered here for sale is emphasized by the fact that it is amongst the earliest example of this celebrated reference in yellow gold known to date. The rarity is further enhanced by the luminous numerals and hands, most certainly added upon special request of Helen Witter who ordered the present reference 2438/1 for her beloved husband, allowing him to read the time also under more difficult conditions.

    Preserved in excellent original overall condition, it impressively reveals the full potential in size and beauty this reference can offer. The sharp and clean lines of the substantial lugs paired with the crisp hallmark to the side witness that it was always treated with respect and expertise.

    The dial has never been subject to cosmetic enhancement, displaying an incredibly appealing, uniform "gold dust" patina. The hard enamel signature and scales are as raised as the connoisseur would hope for.

    Research has revealed that only two other examples of a first series reference 2438/1 in yellow gold have appeared in public to date but that the present specimen is the only one with such "luminous" dial, further enhancing the appeal of this rare timepiece. Furthermore, it is the second earliest reference 2438/1 known to exist, underlining the novelty character the watch must have enjoyed back in 1957 when the Witters, who were never settling for anything less than the best, acquired it.

    One of the best examples of reference 2438/1 in yellow gold to appear in public in a long time, blessed with a highly interesting and important provenance, this watch represents a veritable trophy for the connoisseur of this legendary model.

    Ref. 2438/1
    In 1951, Patek Philippe launched reference 2497 (see lot 366 in this auction) and its water-resistant counterpart, reference 2438/1. A combined total of only 179 examples of these two models were produced, the majority cased in yellow gold.

    Reference 2438/1 is generally divided into two different series:
    - the first with applied Arabic numerals and dauphine hands
    - the second series with applied baton numerals and dauphine hands

    Reference 2438/1 is illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, p. 284.

    Provenance

    1957 - 2006: property of the family of Dean G. Witter
    8 December 2006: Sotheby's New York "Important Watches and Clocks", lot 331, when acquired by the present owner

    Dean G. Witter (1887-1969)
    Dean Witter was born in Wausau, Wisconsin in 1887, as the eldest of six children. In 1891, his family moved to California and finally settled in Berkeley following the purchase of country land tracts in various areas of the state.

    Dean Witter studied at the University of California and excelled both in school and sport. Following his graduation in 1909 he started as a salesman at the stock broker Louis Sloss & Co., his talent earning him the promotion to sales manager after two years only.

    In 1914, Dean Witter and Charles Blyth founded their own firm, Blyth, Witter & Company from which he took leave to join the army at the outbreak of World War I. Serving in France, the infantryman Witter soon rose up to the rank of Capitan and was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action during the 1918 Meuse-Argonne Campaign.

    After the war Dean returned to his firm Blyth, Witter & Co. in San Francisco, contributing to the steadily growing success before launching Dean Witter & Co. together with his brother Guy, their cousins Jean and Ed Witter and their brother-in-law Fritz Janney in 1924.

    The firm's reputation was built on integrity and solid research and Dean Witter's motto "one customer at the time", resulting in flourishing business even during the years of the Great Depression following the 1929 stock market crash.

    During World War II, Dean Witter served as Deputy Chief of Ordinance in San Francisco with the rank of Colonel, a title which suited him so well that for the rest of his life to many he was simply "The Colonel". The talented business man's interests went beyond business and he spent considerable time fishing and hunting not only in his homeland but also in India and particularly in Africa. A true philanthropist he wanted to share his adventures with those at home - the diaries of his enthralling journeys were published in the beautifully illustrated books Shikar, Meanderings of a Fisherman and Solo Safari, the drawings and photographs conveying an impression of Witter's warm personality.

    In 1938, Dean Witter established its national research department, and in 1945, became the first retail securities firm to offer a formal training for account executives. During the 1950s and 60s, Dean Witter & Co. grew rapidly, establishing itself as a major U.S. brokerage house and developing a reputation for innovation in the securities industry. In 1962, the firm was the first to use electronic data processing - a feat that paved the way for securities handling on Wall Street.

    Following Dean Witter's death in 1969 and the retirement of Guy Witter the following year, Jean Witter's son, William M. Witter, became CEO of Dean Witter & Co. In 1997, Dean Witter's parent company Dean Witter, Discover, Inc., merged with the investment banking house Morgan Stanley to form Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. The combined firm later dropped the Dean Witter name. In 2009, the Dean Witter retail operations were transferred to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, a joint venture with Citigroup.

    For many years, the company used the corporate slogan, "We measure success one investor at a time" which was later adopted by Morgan Stanley.

    The memory of the philanthropist, big game hunter, war hero and financial icon Dean Witter is kept alive through The Dean Witter Foundation which, in his spirit, seeks to practice imaginative grant-making in the fields of finance and conservation.

    His personal wristwatch offered here for sale is the perfect timepiece made by special order for a man like Dean Witter - given to him by his wife Helen in commemoration of their 40th anniversary in 1958, it represented everything her beloved husband stood for: the love for his family and a fulfilled life.


    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that this watch is in yellow gold and not pink gold as stated in the title of the printed catalogue.
    Cette montre est en or jaune et non pas en or rose comme stipulé dans le titre de la version imprimée du catalogue.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE DEAN G. WITTER PATEK PHILIPPE REFERENCE 2438/1