Reference 2526 is a legendary model in the history of watchmaking: not only is it the first automatic wristwatch by Patek Philippe, but it is also one of the best performing automatic movement ever designed; its performances and accuracy can be considered superior even by today's standards.
It is also one of Patek Philippe models which presents most variations: it is known in the three gold colors and in platinum, with leather strap or with one of many possible bracelet designs. Its dial can be metal or enamel, with baton, Breguet or diamond-set indexes. One version even presents the Golden Rule on the dial. Furthermore, the model underwent an evolution over the years, thus presenting different series.
With such a "milestone status" among automatic wristwatches, such an array of different options, and the undeniable elegance of its simplicity, it is no surprise that this reference is a favorite among collectors.
Among the plethora of different variations, black 2526 dials are the most appreciated because of the incredible rarity and unsurpassed appeal of the iconic black dial. The ultimate echelon of collectability for this reference, consequently, is embodied in this watch: a black enamel first series dial, easily distinguished by glimpsing the flared holes under the numerals.
As this watch was manufactured after first series dials were no longer made, it is likely that the original buyer specially requested a black dial to be placed on this watch. Since the archive states the original dial color of the watch is not mentioned in the records, it is likely that this watch sold in 1964 was ‘born’ with this black dial from an early batch of dials from the mid-1950s as Patek Philippe often filled special requests in this era. The fact remains that this dial is in exceptional condition and is exceptionally rare, a dial and reference coveted by collectors from around the world.
First series dials are distinguished by the fact that the numerals are not glued to the enamel, as seen with second series dials. Rather, the enamel presents flared holes in correspondence of every numeral through which the feet of the numeral are positioned before being soldered to the back of the dial. While guaranteeing maximum durability, this solution is extremely costly, as a high number of dials do not survive through the manufacturing process due to the many flared holes. This is why this methodology was abandoned in favor of a simpler one (and, later, an even simpler one when the dial becomes metal rather than enamel in the third series). Such a manufacturing procedure is proof of the nearly unreasonably high quality standards Patek Philippe maintained for their production over its entire existence.
For a Ref. 2526 with an almost identical first series black enamel dial, see Patek Philippe Museum - Patek Philippe - Volume II, p. 244.
For a discussion and addition images of the reference 2526, see Patek Philippe: Cult Object and Investment, p. 74-82. Page 78 in this text features an image of later series black dial reference 2526.