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PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE AND IMPORTANT 18K GOLD TWO CROWN WORLD TIME WRISTWATCH WITH 24 HOUR INDICATION AND BRACELET
PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE AND IMPORTANT 18K GOLD TWO CROWN WORLD TIME WRISTWATCH WITH 24 HOUR INDICATION AND BRACELET
PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE AND IMPORTANT 18K GOLD TWO CROWN WORLD TIME WRISTWATCH WITH 24 HOUR INDICATION AND BRACELET
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PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE AND IMPORTANT 18K GOLD TWO CROWN WORLD TIME WRISTWATCH WITH 24 HOUR INDICATION AND BRACELET
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PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXTREMELY FINE, UNIQUE AND IMPORTANT 18K GOLD TWO CROWN WORLD TIME WRISTWATCH WITH 24 HOURS INDICATION, GUILLOCHÉ SILVERED DIAL, LUMINOUS HANDS AND GOLD BRACELET

REF. 2523/1, MANUFACTURED IN 1965

Details
PATEK PHILIPPE. AN EXTREMELY FINE, UNIQUE AND IMPORTANT 18K GOLD TWO CROWN WORLD TIME WRISTWATCH WITH 24 HOURS INDICATION, GUILLOCHÉ SILVERED DIAL, LUMINOUS HANDS AND GOLD BRACELET
REF. 2523/1, MANUFACTURED IN 1965
Movement: Manual
Dial: Silvered Guilloche
Case: 35.5 mm. diam.
With: 18k gold Patek Philippe bracelet, overall length approximately 175 mm., Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives
Remark: The only known with luminous hands and dial

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Alexandre Bigler
Alexandre Bigler Watches & Wristwatches

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Lot Essay

The two crown world time reference 2523/1 is one of the most exclusive of all vintage Patek Philippe wristwatches, only 15 yellow gold examples were ever made and only 9 specimens are now known in public today. It is considered one of the most beautiful and iconic, post-war designs by any watch manufacturer. This breathtaking example of reference 2523/1 is a unique world class rarity of the highest order, it is the only known specimen to have luminous hands, and of equal rarity, a gold bracelet. The attractive guilloche or engine-turned centre of the dial is another special feature found on a few of the 9 known watches of reference 2523/1
Since 2003 it has been one of the stars of a highly important private collection including some of the finest vintage Patek Philippe wristwatches in the world. Undoubtedly a true collector's watch at the most exalted level, it is defined by mechanical complexity, aesthetic appeal, superb condition, unique luminous hands and as stated on the Extract from the Archives – a ‘yellow gold bracelet’.

The Dial
Made by Stern Frères and under dial mechanism by Stern Frères in coordination with Cottier. Guilloché centre with applied yellow gold indexes. Revolving silver 24 hours ring, day silvered and night black. Two gold applied dots for the noon and midnight markers. Silvered outer dial ring for the cities, with engraved enamelled 41 cities around the World according to the time zone. Luminous gold Lys hour hand and luminous Dauphine minutes hand.

The Case
Serial no. 313’045, made by Antoine Gerlach, Geneva Master case maker key 4, three-piece, snapped bezel and back, bevelled cut bezel with angled and faceted turned down lugs, solid gold crowns.

The Movement
Serial no. 724’311, made in 1965, cal. 12 400 HU (Heures Universelles) with Cottier’s dial modification; amagnetic mono-metallic balance, stamped twice with Geneva seal.
The calibre 12 400, evolved from the calibre 12 120, it was made from 1950 and was numbered from 720’000 to 729’999. It was the best 12’’’ calibre with subsidiary seconds of its time with 18 jewels and 18’000 oscillations.

Reference 2523/1
This watch, reference 2523/1, is part of an exceedingly small series of dual crown world time wristwatches introduced into the market around 1957. According to research, to date a total of only six examples of reference 2523/1 in yellow gold with silvered engine-turned dials are known to have survived.

While resembling its predecessor, reference 2523 (launched in 1953), there are subtle differences in design. Examining the side view of reference 2523, it can be seen that the lugs rise higher than the bezel and sharply angle down. The side view of the present lot, reference 2523/1, details lugs that are slightly lower than the bezel with less of an angle. This modification contributed towards a slender, more elegant appearance.

References 2523 and 2523/1 were furthermore fitted with differing dial versions: whereas reference 2523/1 was available with the traditional silvered or gilt dials, reference 2523 existed also with different enamelled versions. This model was never available with enamel dial but only with smooth or textured silvered dials.

The world time mechanism is a functional complication simple to calibrate. The local or meantime must first be set by the crown at 3 o'clock (the 24 hour ring will revolve in the opposite direction of the hands). Then the outer ring is adjusted by turning the crown at 9 o'clock until one's current global location is indicated at the 12 o'clock position. Once this is calibrated, the relative time of each world location is set. The two-tone 24-hour ring indicates world locations that are in night-time by the grey section and daytime by the silvered section.
With the arrival of intercontinental travel Patek Philippe sought out the ingenious watchmaker Louis Cottier who helped them develop a simple but highly sophisticated mechanism to help travellers quickly and efficiently switch time zones such as seen with the famed reference 2597, but also a world-time watch that would help travellers to read the time in 41 cities around the world. A single crown model was launched in the late 1930's where the bezel engraved with cities would have to be turned manually, in 1953 Patek Philippe launched the reference 2523 known as the two-crown world time World-Time model.

The Genius of Louis Cottier and the Heures Universelles
With increased mobility in the late 19th century, travellers were confronted with the dilemma that each region had its own local time. Sandford Fleming (1827-1915) solved this problem. In 1876, the Canadian railway engineer recommended a universal time system in which the globe was divided into 24 time zones.

During the International Meridian Conference in Washington D.C. on 1st November 1884, it was agreed to establish international zones according to his system. GMT, Greenwich Mean Time, was considered "time zero" and twenty-four standard meridians marked the centres of the zones. The International Dateline was placed along the 180-degree meridian in the Pacific Ocean. Around the world, clocks were reset to adapt to this new system of timekeeping.

This challenging problem for watchmakers was solved by Louis Cottier, who in the early 1930s, invented an ingenious system for universal or world time indication. Patek Philippe immediately commissioned Cottier with the development and production of a series of ‘World Time’ watches, using the celebrated ‘HU’ or ‘Heures Universelles’ calibres. Made in exceedingly small series, these timepieces are today highly sought after collectors' watches.

Literature:
Different examples of Patek Philippe's ’World Time’ pocket and wristwatches are illustrated and described in: Patek Philippe Museum - Patek Philippe Watches - Volume II, p. 334-353, chapter ‘World Time and Jump Hour Watches and Louis Cottier Prototypes’.

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