Accompanied by a fitted Patek Philippe presentation box
Patek Philippe & Staybrite Cases
In 1932, Patek Philippe S.A. sold most of its shares to Charles and Jean Stern as a result of the economic crisis. Under the leadership of the Sterns, Patek Philippe continued to present highly complicated models, as well as more standard production models cased in precious metals - gold and platinum. Lower priced watches were cased in silver, and the cheapest models in silver plating or white metal alloys made from a mix of iron, nickel, copper, zinc, or pewter.
Towards the end of the 19th century, a gunmetal alloy came into use, but it produced a dark gray-brown surface color and was not appealing to the eye. In the early 1920's, a newer metal arrived that fit every requirement for an appealing but lower cost metal - stainless steel. It was durable, had more resistance to corrosion than other lower cost metals, was suitable for polishing, and allowed for the possibility of cold pressing. Watch cases were milled and stamped without heat during production, and Staybrite was able to milled and stamped "cold" as well.
The British company Firth Brown gave this steel the name "Staybrite", and subsequently registered it as a trademark. The first Staybrite was composed of 12.5 nickel, 12.5 chromium, 0.05 carbon, and the remainder iron, and unfortunately was not very resistant to corrosion. Known as Staybrite D.D.Q. - Deep Drawing Quality - this particular steel alloy was refined and adjusted to become more resistant to corrosion, and eventually led to the creation of Staybrite W.C.Q. - Watch Case Quality. Nevertheless, it was not until the 1960's and 1970's that more evolved types of Staybrite were produced, which offered almost complete resistance to corrosion and pitting.
Despite its early flaws, the use of Staybrite steel can be attributed to moving Patek Philippe into a new level of production. Since early steel watches were produced less as a lower-cost alternative to precious metal cases, and more as a special request for a client or as a very limited edition, early Patek Philippe steel watches that remain in good condition are very rare. It was not until the 1950's with the introduction of Amagnetic watches, that steel was used for regular production because it was the most appropriate metal for such technical and working watches. In the 1970's, steel became the metal of choice for the Nautilus model, marketed as the "the most exclusive watch in steel" and becoming one of the firms most iconic watches.
From the time-only Calatrava to the highly complicated and mythological steel 1518, Patek Philippe steel watches are sought after by collectors. The present watch, with the inside case back stamped "Staybrite" and in very good overall condition, is a fine representation of Patek Philippe's history of steel watches.
The reference 450 is illustrated and described in Patek Philippe Steel Watches by John Goldberger, p. 136-142.