With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with raised gold hour markers in 1951 and its subsequent sale on 14 January 1956. Furthermore delivered with the "Patek Philippe International Customer Service" tag and the copy of the servicing invoice dated 17 August 1999.
To most collectors of vintage complicated Patek Philippe wristwatches, reference 2499 represents the pinnacle of mechanical complexity paired with perfect design. Between 1951 and 1985, reference 2499 was made in four series and each was a logical evolution building upon the previous generation.
The first series, the immediate successor to the famous reference 1518, was the only one still fitted with rectangular-shaped chronograph buttons, a reminiscence from its 1940s parent. Made during only half a decade, the first generation was cased by two different suppliers, Emile Vichet and Wenger. Whereas the Vichet cases had elongated claw-shaped lugs, like the present watch, the cases provided by Wenger had slightly shorter and less curved lugs. Also the case backs were different, as the Vichet cases were highlighted by a large flat surface the Wenger cases are recognisable by their domed case backs.
From the very first generation of reference 2499, also called "flat backs", we know today only eight watches making it the rarest case variant of all four series. On an average we count only two watches of this type being offered at auction every decade, a highly rare event consequently.
The present example, consigned by a distinguished collector, was made in 1951, the year reference 2499 was introduced. Acquired at auction during the second half of the 1990s, it has since been serviced at Patek Philippe's workshops and has not seen any wear since then. Consequently, the service sticker is still fitted to the back and is proof that the watch has not seen any wear ever since.
Overall a strong, healthy and well-preserved example, blessed with its private provenance and Patek Philippe's professional servicing, it is an exceedingly rare opportunity for any collector aiming to complete his 2499 series collection.
Reference 2499, widely acknowledged as one of the world's greatest watch models ever created, has undoubtedly greatly influenced the designs of many of the most renowned watchmakers. Introduced to the market in 1950 it replaced the legendary reference 1518, the world's first perpetual calendar wristwatch with chronograph made in series.
Over a period of 35 years, reference 2499 was made in four series in a total production of only 349 pieces, the majority cased in yellow gold. The rarity of this model becomes evident when considering that an annual average of only 9 watches left Patek Philippe's workshops.
Reference 2499 is generally divided into the following four series:
- first series, such as the present watch: square chronograph buttons, applied Arabic numerals and tachymetre scale
- second series: round chronograph buttons, either applied baton or applied Arabic numerals and tachymetre scale
- third series: round chronograph buttons, applied baton numerals and outer seconds divisions
- fourth series (see lot 139 in this auction): round chronograph buttons, applied baton numerals, outer seconds divisions and sapphire crystal
Reference 2499 is illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, pp. 302 & 304.