With Patek Philippe Certificate of Origin dated 28 February 1989 confirming that the present gilt metal timepiece with photoelectric quartz movement and cloisonné enamel "La Nature" decoration is a unique piece and original invoice also dated 28 February 1989 and stating the same details for CHF28,500 minus a reduction of CHF3,000, total net amount CHF25,500, addressed to the first owner. Furthermore delivered with Patek Philippe invoice dated 8 July 2014 for a complete servicing of the piece amounting to CHF874.80.
Consigned by the family of the original owner and fresh to the market, the present desk timepiece is the very first example of such square-shaped clock decorated with cloisonné enamel to appear in public. It impresses with its highly unusual case decoration, featuring a superb scene depicting nature. Resembling the celebrated Cubist style, it emphasizes the flat, two-dimensional surface of the picture plane, rejecting the traditional techniques of perspective and depicting radically fragmented objects, whose several sides are seen simultaneously. Like in the works of the most celebrated cubist artists of the time, perspective is rendered by means of colour, predominating warm natural hues.
This timepiece was decorated by Elisabeth Perusset Lagger, celebrated artist excelling in fine cloisonné enameling. Her work is predominantly known on Patek Philippe Dôme clocks, the curved panels and dome presenting an extraordinary challenge mastered by only the most skillful artists.
Interestingly, this unique piece was purchased by its first owner at Patek Philippe's prestigious Salon in Geneva in 1989, year of the firm's 150th anniversary. It is furthermore preserved in excellent overall condition, freshly overhauled in the workshops of Patek Philippe in Geneva.
Towards the end of the 1940s, the Swiss watchmaking industry revived the technique of cloisonné enamel, initially pocket and wristwatches such as the celebrated World Time models. As of the late 1950s also for the decoration of clocks, mainly Dôme. This elaborate and complicated method uses fine bands (filaments) of gold or copper to outline the design, which are then soldered to the surface of a plate. The empty spaces are filled with ground enamel and fired multiple times so the surface becomes perfectly leveled. Even the most talented enamellers may need up to one year to complete such work on a clock, consequently only a handful of these decorative timepieces leave the workshops of Patek Philippe every year.
The movement of the present clock is Patek Philippe's calibre 33, a quartz movement with photoelectric cell.
Watchmakers are always on a quest of energy sources, the disadvantage of light however is that it is not available around the clock. Patek Philippe's first photoelectric clocks were presented in 1950, the idea behind the introduction of an additional energy storage, an accumulator which provides the energy to wind the spring. The photoelectric cells could either store their energy electronically in the accumulator, or mechanically by winding the spring. When the mechanism was fully wound, the cells switched over to charge the accumulator.
The invention ensures the photoelectric cells will charge the accumulator sometime during their operation. Although it provides an elegant solution for a mechanical movement, most light-powered movements today are electronic.
In 1954, Patek Philippe obtained patent no. 298'564 for Photoelectric Energy, a horological mechanism deriving its motive power from a source of light by the means of at least one photoelectric cell.