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PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXCEPTIONAL 18K GOLD WRISTWATCH WITH SWEEP CENTRE SECONDS AND CLOISONNÉ ENAMEL DIAL "THE LIGHTHOUSE"
PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXCEPTIONAL 18K GOLD WRISTWATCH WITH SWEEP CENTRE SECONDS AND CLOISONNÉ ENAMEL DIAL "THE LIGHTHOUSE"
PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXCEPTIONAL 18K GOLD WRISTWATCH WITH SWEEP CENTRE SECONDS AND CLOISONNÉ ENAMEL DIAL "THE LIGHTHOUSE"
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PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXCEPTIONAL 18K GOLD WRISTWATCH WITH SWEEP CENTRE SECONDS AND CLOISONNÉ ENAMEL DIAL "THE LIGHTHOUSE"
9 More
Lot incorporates material from endangered species … Read more
PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXCEPTIONAL 18K GOLD WRISTWATCH WITH SWEEP CENTRE SECONDS AND CLOISONNÉ ENAMEL DIAL "THE LIGHTHOUSE"

REF. 2481, MANUFACTURED IN 1954

Details
PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXCEPTIONAL 18K GOLD WRISTWATCH WITH SWEEP CENTRE SECONDS AND CLOISONNÉ ENAMEL DIAL "THE LIGHTHOUSE"
REF. 2481, MANUFACTURED IN 1954
Movement: Manual
Dial: Cloisonné enamel with “Lighthouse” theme
Case: 36 mm. diam.
With: Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives
Remark: Sensational condition, top quality enamel from 50’s
Special Notice

Lot incorporates material from endangered species that is not for sale and is shown for display purposes only. The endangered species strap shown with the Lot is for display purposes only and is not for sale.Upon sale, the watch will not be supplied to a buyer outside Hong Kong with any watch strap.

Brought to you by

Alexandre Bigler
Alexandre Bigler Vice President, Head of Watches, Asia Pacific

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Lot Essay

Only 8 reference 2481 watches with the ‘Lighthouse’ cloisonne dial are thought to have been made. Today, six examples are known publicly, three in yellow gold and three in pink gold. The present watch has, for the past almost 20 years been part of one of the greatest watch collections in the world. Now Christie’s is delighted to be able to offer this vintage Patek Philippe artisan rarity once again to international collectors.

True works of art impressing with both luminosity and artistic flamboyancy, Patek Philippe’s cloisonné dial wristwatches are always among the rarest and most exclusive watches of any model. The reference 2481 with its large size, exceptional for the 1950s with a diameter of 37 mm, makes this beautiful cloisonné dial watch, last seen on the market nearly 20 years ago, a highly wearable and attractive vintage Patek trophy for the collector.
The reference 2481 is one of the largest Patek Philippe watches produced until the mid-1970s, a trait that attracts buyers ever more in today’s market. Equipped with the celebrated 27SC calibre, the best sweep seconds calibre available at the time, this reference is noted for its fascinating case design: still retaining a ‘Calatrava’ feel, but with the adoption of unusual, avant-garde features such as the overhanging concave bezel and the heavily stepped curved lugs. Reference 2481 was in production for nearly a decade from 1950 to 1960, with most examples in yellow gold, a more limited production in pink gold, one example is known in platinum. It was mounted with different kinds of dials and also with “DE” (Décor Email) dials as portraits, geographic maps, tropical forests, caravelle or lighthouses, for instance. It was still listed in the 1960 catalogue.

The Cloisonne Dial
Made by Stern Frères in 1952-53, the present dial, called ‘The Lighthouse’ by Patek Philippe, is one of the wonderful vivid cloisonné dials that were fitted to a very small number of time-only wristwatches. These cloisonné enamel dials quite naturally take a prominent position in terms of beauty, craftsmanship and rarity. Highly detailed and made by the very best enamel artists of the period, cloisonné enamel dials can be found decorated with other popular subjects such as tropical oasis, sail boats, flowers, portraits and maps. The dial maker Stern Frères supplied most of the great watch houses. The production of these solid gold dials was extremely costly as they had to be individually made by a skilled craftsman and not on a production line. The artist created the outline of the desired motif by arranging thin gold wires on a dial. These partitions, called ‘cloisons’ in French, were filled with small quantities of enamel powder in the desired colour. The dial was then fired in an oven at around 900 degrees Celsius causing the powder to melt. Finally it was hand-polished until a perfectly flat surface was obtained. Hand-made by celebrated enamel artists, notably Nelly Richard and Marguerite Koch, these dials can be regarded as unique works of art in their own right.

Vintage cloisonnè dials such as the present dial exhibit a certain colour palette which is softer and more tonal than modern enamels. The beautiful effects were achieved because in the 1950s, materials such as lead, mercury and cyanide were still being used in the enamelling process. For obvious reasons they can no longer used and the result is that the new enamel techniques seen on recent cloisonné enamel dial watches, for example, although still of the very best craftsmanship and masterfully executed, have a bolder less spontaneous quality. Collectors today understand these subtle differences and early examples from the 1950s such as the present watch are consequently very highly prized.
The back of the present dial carries the correct coding: ‘93’ for the client, in this instance Patek Philippe and ‘920’ as the order number when it was requested.

We are grateful to Eric Tortella for his assistance and study in researching this watch.

Reference 2481
Known as the ‘King Size’, it was introduced into the market in 1950 and was one of the largest wristwatches ever made by Patek Philippe. The model was available with the standard silvered dial but was also with cloisonné enamel versions, others depicting portraits of famous personalities or geographic maps. In total, 1’000 examples of reference 2481 were made up to the end of production in 1960 - 650 examples in yellow gold and 350 in pink gold. The cases were made by the Le Locle master case maker Bernard Dubois. It is of no surprise with its generous case proportions and very attractive design that examples of Ref. 2481 were worn by world leaders including; French president, Charles de Gaulle, Marshal Tito, the president of Yugoslavia as well as the King of Saudia Arabia, who famously ordered almost 150 examples for presentation gifts.

Literature:
A reference 2481 with ‘The Lighthouse’ cloisonné dial is in the Patek Philippe Museum, Geneva, Inv. P-813.

Ref. 2481 watches with cloisonné enamel dials are illustrated in: ‘Patek Philippe Wristwatches’, M. Huber & A. Banbery, 1998 edition, pp. 206-211.

Ref. 2481 is also included in the ‘Blue Book 5’ by Eric Tortella, 2021 edition.

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