Prospective purchasers are advised that several co… Read more THE PROPERTY OF AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN COLLECTOR
Patek Philippe. An extremely fine, historically important and possibly unique 18K gold full calendar wristwatch with moon phases and "roulette" dial


Patek Philippe. An extremely fine, historically important and possibly unique 18K gold full calendar wristwatch with moon phases and "roulette" dial
Signed Patek Philippe & Co, Geneve, Calatrava model, ref. 96, movement no. 860'232, case no. 295'939, manufactured in 1937
Cal. 11''' nickel-finished lever movement, 18 jewels, wolf's tooth winding, silvered matte dial, applied gold Arabic numerals on black hard enamel sector ring, outer Arabic date ring with central date hand, eccentric aperture for moon phases at 12 o'clock pointing downwards, two central windows for day and month, sunk subsidiary seconds, circular case, flat bezel, snap on back, case, dial and movement signed
30 mm. diam.
1939 - 1988: Property of the Family of the Original Owner
1988 - 1998: Property of a Private Asian Collector
since 1998: Property of an Important European Collector
Special notice
Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
Further details

Brought to you by

Dr. Nathalie Monbaron
Dr. Nathalie Monbaron

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Lot Essay

With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with raised gold hour markers in 1937 and its subsequent sale on 22 July 1939.

Manufactured at an epoch when the production of complicated wristwatches was still in its infancy, the present watch is an important witness for the development of modern watchmaking. Until around 1940, watches featuring calendar functions were either unique or produced in extremely small series only, sometimes special orders made at a client's request. Such timepieces were easily recognizable by the half moon-shaped display of the moon phases as opposed to the individual subsidiary dial of later versions.

The full calendar "Calatrava" offered here for sale is a paramount example for one of these extraordinarily rare horological masterworks. Made for the Italian market it is believed to be one of only two yellow gold reference 96 wristwatches fitted with a full calendar known to exist to date, yet each one of a kind in its own right: the present featuring a hard enamel "Roulette" dial with applied gold Arabic numerals, month and day indication in Italian and the moon phase aperture facing downwards. Its peer, sold to Tiffany in New York, with applied gold Breguet numerals, English calendar indications and moon phases facing upwards. Interestingly, the movement and case numbers of the latter, 860'230 and 295'441, are only two digits apart from those of the present watch.

Research has furthermore resulted in the discovery of just five other references 96 with full calendar, however all cased in platinum and with varying dial layouts, two of them on permanent exhibit at the prestigious Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.

Reference 96, unquestionably Patek Philippe's most legendary design, was introduced in 1932. Incorporating elements of Bauhaus, late Art Deco and modernism, it is the perfect 1930s effigy, its timeless case proportions as modern today as they were at the time of its creation. Amongst connoisseurs, reference 96 is better known as Calatrava, a name which stands for avant-garde philosophy thanks to its subtle, elegant lines - clearly Patek Philippe's signature piece.

Whereas reference 96 is best known for its simplicity and the absence of any further functions, the present watch is a historically important example of this model featuring a full calendar. The weekdays and months are shown digitally in rectangular apertures placed in the centre of the dial, the date on an outer scale indicated by a blued steel hand and the moon phases at the twelve o'clock position.

This well-proportioned, charismatic dial reflects a great shine and is above all distinguished by its highly appealing, typical 1930s graphical design featuring a hard enamel "Roulette" ring for the applied gold Arabic numerals.

Unused for over a decade, the watch impresses today by its excellent overall condition. The smooth gold case has been hardly worn and with very subtle signs of polishing only represents the distinctive "Calatrava" shape to its best extent. The sharp and clean lines of bezel and lugs and the crisp hallmark to the side show that it has always been treated with respect and expertise. The oxidation to the case is another typical sign for a watch which has not been used in a very long time.

Following its sale in 1939, the watch has remained the property of the same family until its first appearance in public in 1988 when it was sold to a private Asian collector. Ten years later, in November 1998, it was offered by the latter in this saleroom as the highlight of "Exceptional Watches from an Important Private Collection" and acquired by its present owner, a distinguished European Collector.

In its over 70 years of existence, the present watch has changed hands only three times, an important detail which, combined with the gapless "résumé", further amplifies its importance. Without a doubt, this watch is one of the most exclusive and historically significant collector's pieces offered at auction in recent years.

Similar examples of ref. 96 with full calendar and moon phases are illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, p. 276, and p. 279, pl. 433.

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