With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with raised gold indexes in 1953 and its subsequent sale on 6 July 1954.
The watch offered here for sale must be considered one of the most attractive examples of reference 2497 to appear in public in recent years, revealing the best of all ingredients this landmark model has to offer to the avid collector. It was purchased by the father of the present owner at London’s prominent retailer Garrard & Sons in 1954 and has remained in the family ever since, evidently always treated with care and respect.
Not worn in years the watch shows only very light signs of surface wear. In fact the case impresses with its full proportions, the sharp fluting to the lugs and the crisp hallmarks underneath. It bears the stamp “G&Co. Ld” to the left band as well as, in a trefoil, to the inside of the case back together with the London import assay marks and date letter for 1954 – matching the year of sale confirmed by the Extract from the Archives.
The most striking detail is certainly its spectacular dial, free of any cosmetical enhancement and in absolutely untouched original condition. Notably, the signature and all scales are perfectly well-defined without any loss and in wonderfully raised "indelible" black hard enamel. Over the years, the dial has accumulated a most charismatic, uniform cream-coloured patina with minor spotting in places, lending it the ultimate touch of vintage - subtle signs of natural ageing one would expect on a wristwatch which, for so many years, was exposed to the elements.
Made in 1953, this superb example of the first series of reference is fitted with the more generous case proportions and alternating gold dot and Arabic numerals, as opposed to the applied gold baton numerals of the later generation.
Fresh to the market the present reference 2497 is furthermore believed to be the only example of this model featuring the stamp of the celebrated retailer Garrard & Co. to its case, both in- and outside.
The combination of rarity, private provenance and its stunningly original and well preserved condition renders this watch a trophy for the demanding collector.
Garrard & Co. Ltd.
The London firm Garrard was founded by George Wickes in 1735, the firm's name deriving from one of Wickes' successors, Robert Garrard, who took over in partnership with John Wakelin in 1792. In 1843, Queen Victoria bestowed upon the firm the title of Crown Jewellers, a title they have held through six successive monarchs to the present day. Among other important commissions, they created the Imperial State Crown, set with the Koh-i-Noor, for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. In August 1990, Garrard was acquired by the Asprey Group, whose numerous companies were purchased in 1995 by Prince Jeffrey Bolkiah of Brunei. In 1998, he merged Garrard with the other famous name of Asprey, forming Asprey & Garrard, located at Asprey's premises on New Bond Street. In 2000, this company was sold to a private partnership who subsequently demerged the two names in 2002. Garrard has returned to the premises of 52 Albermarle Street, W1, the site it occupied prior to 1952.
Reference 2497 was introduced in 1951, simultaneously with its more complicated sister model with chronograph, reference 2499 (see lots 116 and174 in this auction). They replaced the legendary references 1526 and 1518 (see lots 114 and 115 in this sale) which are best remembered for their Calatrava-style cases and their unmistakable 1940s look. Whereas reference 2499 was fitted with the same 13''' movement as its predecessor, consequently offering the same functions to its wearer, the "simple" perpetual calendar model 2497 now featured a centre seconds hand, an absolute first on the watch market. This newly designated calibre 27 SC was upgraded with Patek Philippe's patented perpetual calendar mechanism. A combined total of only 179 movements with this new feature were made, numbered from 888'000 to 888'178.
The new generation of Patek Philippe's perpetual calendar models, with or without chronograph mechanism, met the more lavish 1950s taste, the case proportions now slightly more playful. References 2497 and 2499 were first fitted with cases featuring a flat snap on back and very prominent claw-shaped lugs, which then were replaced with a more rounded case back and less downturned lugs, such as the present watch.
Examples of reference 2497 are illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by M. Huber & A. Banbery, second edition, pp. 285 & 287, and in Patek Philippe Museum - Patek Philippe Watches, Volume II, pp. 295.