Patek Philippe. A Fine and Historically Important Silver Openface Pocket Watch
Patek Philippe. A Fine and Historically Important Silver Openface Pocket Watch


Patek Philippe. A Fine and Historically Important Silver Openface Pocket Watch
Signed Patek Philippe & Co., Genève, Movement & Case No. 52'233, Manufactured in 1876
Movement: Manual, Cal. 18'''
Dial: Enamel, Roman numerals
Case: Silver, engraved cuvette reading; PIO IX.PP., HELVETI CATHOLICI DD, MDCCCLXXVII, case back with engraved coat of arms, 47mm diam.
Signed: Cuvette signed by maker
Accompanied By: A Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming date of sale on May 14th, 1877, and an original prayer card

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Lot Essay


Important watches have been made for royalty since the dawn of portable mechanical timekeeping in the 17th century and hundreds of spectacular examples have been made for the kings and queens that have shaped our world for hundreds of years. However, very few of these luxury objects were made for Popes and even fewer Patek Philippe watches have made their way to the inner chambers of the Vatican.

This is why this seemingly humble pocket watch, made for Pope Pius IX, may be one of the most important watches to have surfaced in recent history. It is a watch of rich history, humble in spirit, extravagant in its execution, and may very well be the last time that a Patek Philippe from a Pope will ever be offered on the market. Furthermore, Pope Pius IX was beatified in 2000 by Pope John Paul II and is recognized for his spiritual life as well as his historic importance as the longest reigning Pope in history.

The cuvette reveals that the PIO IX PP HELVETI CATHOLICI D.D. and 1877 in Roman numerals. The P.P. indicates Pastor Pastorum, literally Shepherd of Shepherds or Pope, and it translates from Latin “The Swiss Catholics gave the watch” to Pius IX. This group of Catholics belonged to the Piusverein, also known as the Pius Association, which was named after Pope Pius IX, a social organization formed in 1848 to defend Catholic interests throughout Europe. It is very likely that Antoine Norbert de Patek was affiliated with this organization during his time in Geneva. This watch was given to Pius IX in honor of his golden Episcopal Jubilee as followers around the world visited the Pope to honor him. The engraving of the Papal coat of arms is confirmed on the Extract from the Archives.

Born Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti in Senigallia, Italy on May 13, 1792, the future Pope was born to a noble family and was ordained as a priest by age 27 in 1819, named a Bishop in 1831, and Cardinal in 1840. In 1846, at the age of 48, he was elected Pope, the leader of the Catholic Church. In 1869, he organized the first Vatican Council, Vatican I, and redefined the Church’s position on faith.

The provenance of this watch is as follows:

Presented to Pope Pius IX by the Swiss branch of the Catholic organization Piusverein in 1877. Subsequently: after Pope Pius IX's death in 1878, Pope Leo XIII gave the watch to Cardinal Francesco Salesio della Volpe, who was “Camerlengo” (Papal Chamberlain) of the Holy Roman Church. Cardinal Francesco Salesio della Volpe gave the watch to his cousin, Count Giuseppe Ginnasi Poggiolini di Imola. Count Giuseppe Ginnasi Poggiolini di Imola gave the watch to his daughter, Countess Nadia Ginnasi Poggiolini, the mother of the individual who sold this watch at Antiquorum May 10, 2009 in Geneva, lot 318. This watch was offered for auction again on May 9, 2014 at Antiquorum NY, lot 32.

For images and information regarding the Patek Philippe quarter repeating watch made for Pope Pius IX, see Timepieces for Royalty 1850-1910, p. 50-53. This watch, No. 27'033, is presently Patek Philippe Museum Inventory No. P-736. It bears Pius IX’s coat of arms executed in enamel.

For a discussion of Popes and their Pateks, see Hodinkee,com, May 18, 2014, “In-Depth: A Study of Holy Horology, Or Popes and Their Pateks” by John Reardon.

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