With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with lapped indexes in 1955 and its subsequent sale on 24 December 1958.
This outstanding horological treasure is an exquisite example of Patek Philippe's extraordinarily small production of vintage minute repeating wristwatches. One of only four references 2524/1 in yellow gold with subsidiary seconds dial known to exist to date, it can doubtlessly also be counted amongst the best preserved specimens of this rare model to appear on the market in recent years.
Its elegant gold case was made by Emile Vichet, one of Patek Philippe's best case makers of the period. It has never been subject to careless polishing and has preserved its full proportions to the best extent, shown by the crisp gold marks and the very well defined recesses at the junctions between the lugs and the case. While enhancing the aesthetical appeal of the watch, this small indentation is very sensible to careless polishing or excessive wear. Its sharp outlines on the present timepiece accentuate impressively the excellent, original overall condition of this watch. Supplied by the celebrated Stern Freres, the pure dial is distinguished by its great readability. It disperses a wonderful shine and impresses with the beautifully raised hard enamel signature and scales and the crisp outer pearled minute divisions. The first quality calibre 12''' movement, bauche made by the celebrated Fritz Piguet, impresses with a clear, well-tuned and melodious repeating sound.
Furthermore, the present reference 2524/1 distinguishes itself for being one of the very few examples destined for the American market, as indicated by the HOX stamp on the main bridge of the movement. Another noteworthy feature is its unusual gold buckle. During a short period in the 1950s and due to high import duties, a series of gold buckles was specifically developed and produced in the U.S. for the Henri Stern Watch Agency, distinguishable by their different design, pointed rather than flat. Today nicknamed the "Henri Stern", the first series of these buckles, made by a New York jeweler, were delivered with the misspelled signature "Patek Phillipe". The buckle on this timepiece is an example from this legendary production.
Of superb understated elegance and outstanding quality, the reference 2524/1 offered here for sale is one of the exceedingly scarce opportunities to acquire an example of Patek Philippe's ultra-rare vintage minute repeating wristwatches.
Reference 2524/1, successor of reference 2424, was launched in 1955 and made in two versions: one without subsidiary seconds and the repeating mechanism activated by pushing the slide in the band downwards, the second, such as the present watch, with subsidiary seconds and the repeating slide to be pushed upwards. The latter is in fact the rarest variant, the total production number believed to be less than a dozen.
Patek Philippe started development of minute repeating wristwatches presumably as early as 1906, converting a 12''' pocket watch calibre for the use in a wristwatch. It is however not known if it has ever been cased. As of 1925, the firm officially sold minute repeating wristwatches, the majority unique pieces featuring different case and dial designs. According to research, only twelve of these early examples are known to exist to date.
It was not until 1948 that Patek Philippe launched the production of minute repeating wristwatches in series and with their own reference numbers, however all made in exceedingly small numbers only. The references known to date are 2419, 2421, 2524, 2524/1, 2524/2 and 2534.
For over 50 years, until 1989, year of introduction of references 3974 and 3979 (design directly inspired by reference 2524/1 with subsidiary seconds) to celebrate Patek Philippe's 150 th anniversary, these models remained the firms' only minute repeating wristwatches made in series.
The minute repeating mechanism
Among the different watchmaking complications developed over the centuries, the repeating function is arguably the most poetic, going back to the earliest mechanical clocks. Many of the first mechanical timepieces in Europe were made for monasteries and clock towers and it was not unusual for these pieces not to have a dial or hands as time was told through the chiming of bells. Portable hour striking clocks existed by the late Renaissance, but the first known watch to strike the time on demand - the essential difference between a striking timepiece and a genuine repeater - is believed to have been invented in 1687 by the English watchmaker Daniel Quare. In 1783, Breguet's invention of the wire gong made of hardened steel to replace the hitherto used bell improved not only the quality of the sound but also helped to reduce the thickness of a watch case. Generally speaking, such gongs are circular steel coils, fixed at one end and progressively surrounding the minute repeater movement. When struck by the hammers, they vibrate, thus producing the sounds.
The repeating mechanism represents the ability of a watch to acoustically tell the time by striking small hammers onto gongs surrounding the movement (early examples onto a bell in the case back). Time can be deducted from the number and combination of the chimes. The repeating function features different options, the very first being the simple hour repeater which would strike the elapsed hours only. Following the success of such devices, an incremental array of repeaters were developed: the quarter repeater, striking the elapsed hours and quarters of an hour, the half quarter repeater, improved by telling the elapsed half quarters as well; the five minute repeater; and the final evolution: the minute repeater which indicates the precise time to the minute. Always made in small numbers, the development and realization of such complex mechanism was and still is a challenge for watchmakers. A momentous achievement in the past, this complication is regarded one of the pinnacles of watchmaking, produced in extremely limited quantities and always considered as the top end of the production of a firm.