With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with blue enamel to the centre, revolving ring with 41 cities and applied gold indexes in 1953 and its subsequent sale on 9 July 1956.
Certain wristwatch models are unanimously considered landmarks of horology: the first serially produced perpetual chronograph, Patek Philippe's reference 1518, is one example. Other examples are the two-crown models produced by Patek Philippe at the beginning of the second half of the last century, the celebrated World Time references 2523 and 2523/1, of which the timepiece here on offer is a remarkable specimen.
These wristwatches combine all the characteristics rendering a vintage watch attractive. First of all, their aesthetic appeal is simply stunning. At 35.5mm, the case is not excessively encumbering or ostentatious, and yet the concentric rings layout of the dial, coupled with the generous bezel, grant these timepieces a presence on the wrist far exceeding that of other watches of similar size. The second crown at 9 o' clock mirrors the usual one at 3 o' clock and imbues the overall look of the piece with balance and symmetry. The deep blue enamel is a feast for the eyes, its color constantly changing and dancing according to how the light strikes it.
The apparent beauty of the case and dial design is matched by the beauty and complexity of the inner workings of the watch, the revolutionary world time system - or Heures Universelles- designed and patented in the early 1930s by legendary watchmaker Louis Cottier.
Last but not least it is important to mention the extraordinary rarity of Patek Philippe's two crown world time wristwatches. Scholars assume that an exceedingly small series of calibre 12'''400 were upgraded by Cottier on behalf of Patek Philippe to become the revered 12'''400 HU (Heures Universelles) version used for reference 2523 (and later 2523/1), rendering the model one of the firm's rarest, if not the rarest, serially produced wristwatch. The watches were fitted with a variety of different types of dial centres, including engine-turned gold, cloisonné enamelled discs depicting maps or monochrome translucent blue, such as the present watch, in fact the rarest of all versions: as a matter of fact, only two other yellow 2523 are known with this dial configuration.
As it so often happens in the world of vintage watch collecting, such a limited production is due to the poor reception the model received when first launched. It took decades for the taste of the public to evolve and eventually appreciate these masterpieces, which are consequently as rare as they are sought after.
It is no surprise that on rare occasions examples of these ultra-rare timepieces appear at auction, they never fail to stir the market as well as the hearts of collectors. However, a specimen such as the present one is bound to capture the imagination of Patek Philippe lovers all over the world even as it is one of the best preserved examples to appear at auction in recent years. One of the "signature" characteristics of reference 2523 is its faceted lugs. A true masterpiece of design, the lugs present 3 facets: top, side and a third one inclined at 45 degrees, their sharp edges extremely sensitive to polishing. The present example however showcases angles in near mint condition, testimony of the care and reverence the watch has been treated with by its previous owner and a near impossible find for the true connoisseur looking for the ultimate gem for his or her vintage Patek Philippe collection. The fascinating dial does not show any signs of cosmetic enhancement, the royal blue colour beautifully harmonizing with the gold case material, further enhancing the incredible look of this unmatched timepiece.