Patek Philippe. A very rare and highly attractive stainless steel ‘Staybrite’ wristwatch with black gloss dial and hooded lugs
Many of the watches offered for sale in this catal… Read more PATEK PHILIPPECasa Weil Ref. 544 with Black Gloss Dial
Patek Philippe. A very rare and highly attractive stainless steel ‘Staybrite’ wristwatch with black gloss dial and hooded lugs

SIGNED PATEK PHILIPPE & CO., GENÈVE, RETAILED BY WEIL, REF. 544, MOVEMENT NO. 829'821, CASE NO. 506'324, MANUFACTURED IN 1940

Details
Patek Philippe. A very rare and highly attractive stainless steel ‘Staybrite’ wristwatch with black gloss dial and hooded lugs
Signed Patek Philippe & Co., Genève, retailed by Weil, ref. 544, movement no. 829'821, case no. 506'324, manufactured in 1940
Movement: cal. 12'''120, manual, 18 jewels, signed
Dial: black gloss, signed by the maker and retailer
Case: enlarged bezel, snap on back, stepped hooded lugs, 33.5 mm. diam., signed
With: Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with black dial and raised indexes in steel in 1940 and its subsequent sale on 10 June 1940
Special notice

Many of the watches offered for sale in this catalogue are pictured with straps made of endangered or protected animal materials such as alligator or crocodile. These endangered species straps are shown for display purposes only and are not for sale. Christie’s will remove and retain the strap prior to shipment from the sale site. At some sale sites, Christie’s may, at its discretion, make the displayed endangered species strap available to the buyer of the lot free of charge if collected in person from the sale site within 1 year of the date of the sale. Please check with the department for details on a particular lot.
Sale room notice
Please note that the indexes on the dial are in stainless steel and not gilt as mentioned in the e-catalogue and the printed Gallery Guide.

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Sabine Kegel
Sabine Kegel

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Lot Essay

This endangered species strap is shown for display purposes only and is not for sale. The watch will be supplied with a calf leather strap.

The presence of a black dial on any vintage steel cased Patek Philippe watch is considered legendary by collectors, uniting two of the rarest and most sought-after traits to be found in any of the firm's models.

As confirmed by the Extract from the Archives, the present stunning stainless steel reference 544 was supplied with a black dial, rendering it a superbly elegant appearance. It is believed to be one of only six examples of reference 544 in stainless steel to appear in public to date and furthermore, it is the only one known with double signed black dial with the retailer's signature ‘Weil’.

Black dials were almost never offered as a standard option, usually reserved only for special orders and are consequently exceedingly rare. From our research, most of the very few known pieces with black dial and steel cases, both wrist and pocket watches, were made and sold between 1938 and 1943 – the early to middle years of World War II. The reason for the production of this small cluster of steel watches with black dials in the late 30s and early 40s is interesting to contemplate, was it perhaps that some clients wanted to appear less ostentatious and more discreet during wartime whilst at the same time enjoying the ultimate luxury of a Patek Philippe watch?

Furthermore, in relationship to the price of the watch, the difference in cost between a steel and a gold case was negligible and therefore the choice of a steel case was certainly no cost saving exercise. Whatever the reason, the legacy is a small and rarefied group of watches, including the present watch, that are amongst the most desirable of all Patek Philippe timepieces.

Reference 544 was in production from around 1938 until the late 1940s and was available in yellow or pink gold, stainless steel or stainless steel and gold.

Casa Weil with stores in Santiago de Chile and Valparaiso were official retailer of fine watches, jewellery and silver at the time.

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