PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXTREMELY WELL PRESERVED, HIGHLY IMPORTANT AND HISTORIC 18K GOLD SPLIT SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH WITH BREGUET NUMERALS, SOLD TO LEGENDARY COLLECTOR HENRY GRAVES JR.
PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXTREMELY WELL PRESERVED, HIGHLY IMPORTANT AND HISTORIC 18K GOLD SPLIT SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH WITH BREGUET NUMERALS, SOLD TO LEGENDARY COLLECTOR HENRY GRAVES JR.
PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXTREMELY WELL PRESERVED, HIGHLY IMPORTANT AND HISTORIC 18K GOLD SPLIT SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH WITH BREGUET NUMERALS, SOLD TO LEGENDARY COLLECTOR HENRY GRAVES JR.
8 More
PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXTREMELY WELL PRESERVED, HIGHLY IMPORTANT AND HISTORIC 18K GOLD SPLIT SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH WITH BREGUET NUMERALS, SOLD TO LEGENDARY COLLECTOR HENRY GRAVES JR.
11 More
Lot incorporates material from endangered species … Read more
PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXTREMELY WELL PRESERVED, HIGHLY IMPORTANT AND HISTORIC 18K GOLD SPLIT SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH WITH BREGUET NUMERALS, SOLD TO LEGENDARY COLLECTOR HENRY GRAVES JR.

REF. 1436, MANUFACTURED IN 1946

Details
PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXTREMELY WELL PRESERVED, HIGHLY IMPORTANT AND HISTORIC 18K GOLD SPLIT SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH WRISTWATCH WITH BREGUET NUMERALS, SOLD TO LEGENDARY COLLECTOR HENRY GRAVES JR.
REF. 1436, MANUFACTURED IN 1946
Movement: Manual
Dial: Silvered with Breguet numerals
Case: 33 mm. diam.
With: 18k gold Patek Philippe buckle, Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives
Remark: Exceptional provenance, extraordinary condition
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

Christie’s are extremely honoured and excited to be able to offer to our clients, international collectors and all admirers of Patek Philippe a superlative vintage Patek Philippe wristwatch formerly from the collection of the legendary collector Henry Graves Jr. – the reference 1436J split-seconds chronograph. Not seen in public for over a decade, this world-class trophy watch has since been one of the bright stars of an exceptional private watch collection.

In the world of watches there is no provenance stronger or more desirable than that of Henry Graves Jr. arguably the most important and prolific watch collector of the 20th century. A provenance to perhaps Patek Philippe’s greatest ever client immediately tells even the casual observer that they are beholding a very special timepiece indeed, one of the best of the best. With the finest pedigree, historical importance and overall fantastic original condition, this watch represents the all too rare opportunity to add a supreme Patek Philippe vintage masterpiece to any distinguished collection.

Unknown until its emergence from the estate of Graves’s grandson, Reginald H. Fullerton, Jr. in 2012, the present watch is also remarkable for its wonderful condition and can be considered as one of the finest examples of reference 1436 to ever appear on the market. Reginald ‘Pete’ Fullerton was as fastidious a collector as his grandfather and insisted that no elements of the dials or cases of his watches were ever changed or restored during services at Patek Philippe. This philosophy is perfectly demonstrated by the present watch, the case retains its full proportions and displays remarkably crisp and clear hallmarks, furthermore the gold has acquired the deep patina of time that is so highly prized by collectors, further attesting to its untouched and original state of preservation. The dial features the rarely seen applied gold Breguet numerals, arguably the most attractive dial variation and the least made dial type for this reference, most examples featuring either baton or combined baton and Arabic numerals. According to our research, only around a dozen reference 1436 are known publicly with Breguet numeral dial. Attesting that the watch was destined for the American market, the movement bears the ‘HOX’ stamp on the balance bridge.

The Dial
Made by Stern Frères, solid gold base plate, matte finish, applied yellow gold Breguet numerals, champlevé black hard enamel outer minute track, tachymeter scale and subsidiary dials, gold ‘feuille’ hour and minute hands. The enamelled outer railway minute scale, tachymeter, signature and subsidiary dials were first engraved by hand by an engraver artist., the enameller would then fill the engravings and “bake” the dial at around 900 degrees. The back of the present dial carries the correct coding: ‘93’ for the client, in this instance Patek Philippe and ‘177’ as the order number when it was requested. The celebrated Stern Frères turned the dial production into a real art. The present example is a paradigm of simplicity and elegance.

The Case
Made by Emile Vichet, three-piece 18K yellow gold with snap on back and snap on bezel, Inside case back with the maker’s signature, punched by Patek Philippe, Switzerland designation always at the same position and punched at the same time as the signature, Swiss “Helvetia” hallmark, 18K/0.750 for the gold title punched by the casemaker, case number generally punched by the casemaker following Patek Philippe’s instructions. Two Swiss gold hallmarks on the main body, the head of Helvetia and the “G” for Geneva underneath, one placed on the side of the lower right hand lug, the other on the main body. The underside of the bezel is scratched the last three digits of the case number.

Reference 1436
Distinguished by its outstanding quality and elegance of design, the reference 1436 is among the pinnacles of Patek Philippe’s mid-century production and the first split-seconds chronograph to be produced in series. The design of the dial is very pleasing to the eye with prominence given to the tachymeter scale and the applied numerals. The split-seconds chronograph function enables the timing of two events at the same time, for instance two cars racing, and has a 30-minute counter for single events of longer than one minute in duration.

Only 140 examples of reference 1436 were ever made in the approximately 33 year production period from 1938 until it was discontinued in 1971. The present watch is one of only 59 examples in yellow gold known publicly today. Reference 1436 was made in two generations with different construction in regard to the operation of the chronograph function. For the first generation made until the late 1940s, the crown serves as a button to split and reunite the two seconds hand. The second generation was fitted with a co-axial push button within the crown for the split seconds function.

Provenance:
Henry Graves, Jr. (1868-1953)
Gwendolen Graves Fullerton (1903-1969), his daughter
Reginald ‘Pete’ H. Fullerton, Jr. (1933-2012), his grandson
Sotheby’s New York, Watches from the Collection of the Late Reginald H. Fullerton, Jr. and his Grandfather Henry Graves Jr., 14 June 2012, lot 14
The Property of an Important Private Collector

Literature:
For further examples of the reference 1436, see: Huber, M. & Banbery, A., Patek Philippe Wristwatches, Volume 2, Second Edition, pp. 272-274.
A Grand Complication, The Race to Build the World’s most Legendary Watch, Stacy Perman, Simon & Schuster, 2013.
Ref. 1436 is illustrated in the 'Blue Book 1', 2018 edition by Eric Tortella, page 409-

***
Henry Graves, Jr. (1868-1953) By Stacy Perman (Stacy Perman is an award-winning journalist and the author of three books, including A Grand Complication: The Race To Build The World's Most Legendary Watch, Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, 2013)

"Graves was the second born son after his brother Edward Hale in all likelihood; it was the last time Graves came in second for anything"

For Henry Graves, Jr., collecting was not merely about connoisseurship; it was his true passion. During his lifetime, this mysterious Manhattan financier acquired many objects of art by following a single, simple philosophy: “if it’s not the best don’t bother.”

When it came to acquiring timepieces, Graves has come to occupy a singular place in horological history. He was a man with the utmost discerning eye, and a desire to own the finest and most complicated timepieces culminating in the chef-d’ oeuvre of his collection: the Graves Supercomplication. Manufactured by Patek Philippe, this double-dial pocket watch delivered to him in 1933, took five years to design and another three just to manufacture. Made of 18-karat gold and incorporating 24 complications, it smashed all known records when it sold at auction in 1999 for $11 million – a record that remained unbroken for 15 years until 2014, when the Supercomplication once again went on the block and hammered down for an astonishing $24 million.

Horology’s answer to the Mona Lisa, the Supercomplication became a symbol of an era and Graves is considered one of the greatest if not the greatest watch collectors of the 20th century. His commissions define modern watch collecting and forged the reputations of watchmakers such as Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin as both micro-mechanical craftsmen and magicians of complications.

***

Born in Orange, New Jersey to an influential banking family, Graves cut a quiet figure during the glittering fin de siècle America. He joined his father, Henry Graves, Sr. on Wall Street. One of the New York Stock Exchange’s governors, Graves Sr. had established the firm of Maxwell & Graves in 1865. The Graves’s wealth, made on railroads and finance, stood among the great tycoons and industrial barons of the day. Maxwell & Graves provided the starting capital for the Liberty National Bank and the Atlas Portland Cement Company. The largest concern of its kind, Atlas supplied cement for both the Empire State Building and the Panama Canal.

In 1896, Mr. Graves married Florence Isabelle Preston, the daughter of a wealthy commodities broker. It was a marriage of money and pedigree; Florence traced her family line back to the Emperor Charlemagne. The New York Times called their wedding, held at St. Thomas’s Church on Fifth Avenue, one of “social prominence.”

The couple lived rather largely, they maintained a mansion in Irvington-On-Hudson on a slice of land formerly part of Washington Irving’s estate. Mr. and Mrs. Graves and their four children also lived during the winter in Manhattan, first at 420 Park Avenue in what was called a millionaire’s rental, and later in a duplex at 834 Fifth Avenue.

At the turn of the century, wealthy society families such as the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilt’s owned rustic camps in the Adirondacks, lavishly appointed Great Camps in the middle of the wilderness. In 1909 Graves purchased Eagle Island, the Great Camp built by architect William Coulter on Upper Saranac Lake. Originally built in 1903 for the former U.S. Vice President Levi P. Morton, a one-time Governor of New York, Graves exulted in the seclusion offered by his private island’s 32-forested acres. Arriving at the top of the season each July with their servants in tow, Mr. and Mrs. Graves entertained friends, threw lavish parties, hunted, played tennis, canoed, and enjoyed elaborate family picnics.

Graves was the second born son after his brother Edward Hale – in all likelihood; it was the last time Graves came in second for anything. He was a competitive to a fault. An avid sportsman, he raced speedboats and was an expert marksman; took up show riding and was an expert equestrian.

And when it came to collecting, Graves viewed this vocation much like a sport, he was out to win.

A notable collector of paintings and sculpture, Graves was one of the country’s foremost collectors of Chinese porcelains. He acquired a penchant for Old Master engravings and drawings as well as a keen interest in early American and naval battle prints. Graves also amassed an impressive collection of rare and historically important coins – of which he kept in a customized cabinet in his master bathroom.

While Graves was intent on procuring the finest pieces for his collections, he was equally zealous about keeping them private. Unlike many of his contemporaries who were public about their holdings, publishing catalogs, and bequeathing them to museums, few knew of the remarkable treasures that Graves possessed. Then on April 3, 1936 the American Art Association Anderson, Galleries, Inc. conducted a single-owner sale: Masterpieces of Engraving and Etching: The Collection of Henry Graves, Jr., where the public-at-large got its first indication of the scope of his assemblage. The sale’s highpoint was Albrecht Dürer’s “Adam and Eve” which fetched $10,000. It was an extraordinary sum particularly since the auction took place in the middle of the Great Depression.

It was however, Graves’s desire for complicated watches that he has perhaps become best known in modern times. Initially, his interest began like that of most men of his milieu, where the ownership of a fine gold pocket watch was a symbol of status and affluence. The Graves family had been longstanding patrons at Tiffany & Company, stretching back to the days when it was known as the “palace of jewels” at 15 Union Square West. Graves, his father, and two brothers all purchased timepieces from the jeweller. Indeed, it was Mr. Graves’s regular patronage of Tiffany that initially brought him to the Geneva firm of Patek Philippe.

Patek Philippe had earned a reputation in America for its high performance chronometers, regularly bringing home medals at the Geneva Observatory Timing Competitions, the World’s Fairs, and a savvy marketing campaign that promoted its award-winning showings. It was Patek Philippe’s Geneva Observatory prize winners in particular that caught Graves’s eye. His taste for perfection and competition eventually fuelled his desire for complicated watches. In the 1910s Graves began acquiring Patek Philippe pocket watches. By the 1920s, his interest evolved from simply securing the finest minute repeaters and chronometers to owning timepieces that contained as many complications as possible. Graves had exacting standards. He favoured polished cases in platinum or eighteen-karat gold: many were engraved with the Graves family crest with its motto: Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather Than to Seem).

Over the years, Graves developed a unique and special relationship with Patek Philippe. Although he personally travelled to Geneva on a few occasions, until around the late 1930s, Tiffany & Co. handled most of his commissions with Patek Philippe. During the 1940s, Graves dealt largely with the Henri Stern Watch Agency, Patek Philippe’s American headquarters in Rockefeller Center, where he had earned something of a favoured patron status. Graves’s special relationship with Patek Philippe resulted in some of the most extraordinary pieces ever made. Two of his pocket watches, commissioned in the 1920s contained eleven and twelve complications respectively. Of the two known platinum Patek Philippe tourbillons in existence, it was Graves who owned them, each Observatory winners.

Even into his eighth decade Graves’s keen interest in timepieces continued. After World War II his focus turned largely to wristwatches. It was an interest that began during the 1920s. Before the signature timepiece came into fashion Graves had purchased two minute repeating tonneau-shaped pieces.

In 1953, at 86-years-old, Graves died in his Fifth Avenue apartment. To date, only a fraction of Graves’s watches have surfaced publicly or at auction.

Literature:
Ref. 1436 is illustrated in the ‘Blue Book 1’, 2018 edition by Eric Tortella, page 409-

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