With Patek Philippe Certificate of Identity and Guarantee of Origin confirming production of the present watch with enamel scene "Retour du Verger", original sales tag, product literature and archival image in colour depicting the present watch, the back stamped 866/26. Furthermore delivered with the original fitted black presentation box and the Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with enamel painting "Retour du Verger" in 1974 and its subsequent sale on 28 May 1975.
Consigned by the original owner, the present watch has never been offered in public before and is preserved in excellent, close to new overall condition.
According to the accompanying photocopy of Patek Philippe's letter dated 22 May 1975, the enamel miniature on the back of the watch represents the "Retour du Verger" or "Return from the Orchard", a composition of Mr. A. Mallet after a drawing by F. Ribeira. It was executed by Miss Mercier, enamel painter at Patek Philippe, who attended the Geneva School for Enamel Paintings in 1925. The letter furthermore states:
"She is one of the most talented, precise and demanding artists in the field of enamel painting. Prior to applying the colours onto the relevant object, the artist creates small colour platelets which she later uses as colour palette and study.
The difficulty in the execution of this miniature led in the composition of the palette for the colours of the skin of the model. Face and arms are drafted on white ground, then painted in the soft colours salmon/brick-red. With an admirable precision the cheeks have been slightly shaded.
For the background with the warm colour tones a harder technic was used.
This miniature is the perfect work of a great artist."
Mrs Hélène May-Mercier was active as an enamel miniature painter at Patek Philippe in Geneva from the 1970s until the 1990s. During her career she embellished around 20 watches as well as some cloisonné enamel Dome clocks.
Francisco Ribera Gómez (Madrid, 1907-Málaga 1990)
The Spanish painter is best known for his romantic portraits.
For over 3,000 years, fine enamelling has decorated and enriched watches, jewellery and objects d'art. Patek Philippe maintains this rare craft of miniature enamelling, traditionally associated with the finest Geneva timepieces, and in many ways the most difficult of the decorative arts.
Nowadays, only few artists, notably Suzanne Rohr, still master this art. These rare Patek Philippe timepieces are, in general, unique pieces made to special order with the subject matter to be represented chosen by the client. They often include famous landscape and portrait paintings, celebrities or even family members of the future owner.