With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with silvered dial, raised hour markers, radium in 1942 and its subsequent sale on 24 December 1942. The Extract furthermore confirms that the original case was replaced by the present case bearing the number 652'371 during a servicing in Patek Philippe's workshops in 1948.
This watch is a sensational "one-off" and milestone in the development of perpetual calendar wristwatches. General scholarship states that with the introduction of calibre 27 SCQ, Patek Philippe introduced a new era in 1952. In fact, it is accepted as the first perpetual calendar wristwatch movement with centre seconds. Exclusively used for references 2497 and 2438/1, it is considered a technical marvel created in the golden age of classical wristwatch making.
It is a lesser known fact that already a decade earlier Patek Philippe experimented with perpetual calendar wristwatches featuring centre seconds. However these were not fitted with calibre 27 SCQ (since the ébauche was only introduced in 1949) but with a highly exclusive derivate of the sophisticated calibre 12''' SC, upgraded with indirect centre seconds. Today it is understood that Patek Philippe only ever made three such perpetual calendar wristwatches. Movement numbers 864'470 and 864'471, were both manufactured in 1944 and cased in the reference 1591 style, the first in stainless steel, the second in yellow gold. Both have been sold at public auction during the last decade and have provoked fiercest competition from an elite audience, changing hands for record results. Both are today reunited in Patek Philippe's prestigious museum in Geneva.
The present watch however, number 864'271, precedes the other two examples by two years and truly deserves the denomination "the first perpetual calendar wristwatch with centre seconds ever produced". Most likely its movement was also first cased in the 1591 style. However upon special request it was modernized in 1948 with the current gold case in the timeless 1526 style. Whereas any connoisseur can easily understand why Patek Philippe has chosen this model number for the present watch, it is impressive to count the numerous unique particularities reserved to the present watch.
Most notably the dial, a complete one-off not corresponding to anything else in Patek Philippe's regular production. In fact, since the seconds hand is not positioned in the moon aperture at 6 o'clock, the seconds track is no longer inside the surrounding date ring but in the form of a railway track calibrated to fifths of a second at the outer edge of the dial. The case had to be adapted to the different measurements of the complicated indirect centre seconds movement and impresses with a stronger presence compared to the standard subsidiary seconds reference 1526, most notably with a thicker case body.
Very much to the world of collector's delight, the present masterpiece has survived over 60 years of age in unbelievably crisp and unspoilt condition. The case, known not to react well to polishing, is one of the best preserved Calatrava style cases one can think of. Possibly not more than once polished since leaving Patek Philippe's premises in 1948, it feels solid and massive as it should. The back closes tightly and its inside shows just one watchmaker's inscription, hinting at only one service since its creation. The dial displays the richness and complexity an untouched off-white example of this period should exhibit.
Few vintage wristwatches are of such importance to the world of collectors and every connoisseur immediately knows when scholars discuss the "indirect centre seconds reference 1526" - not many watches are of such fame that they can claim for themselves a designation by its own.