With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1927 and its subsequent sale on 5 December 1928.
The present watch is believed to be the only example of an early Patek Philippe jump hour wristwatch in rectangular case known to scholars. In fact, the only two other known vintage jump hour wristwatches by Patek Philippe are either housed in tonneau or cushion-shaped cases. The latter are both on permanent display at Patek Philippe's prestigious museum in Geneva, rendering the present watch the only recorded early "Patek Philippe Heures Sautantes" wristwatch to have remained in private hands.
It is furthermore one of the earliest models fitted with this unusual mechanism known to exit to date. Of unusual large size for the period, it was most likely made by special order for Patek Philippe's renowned retailer Grogan Company in Pittsburgh.
Patek Philippe manufactured only an exceedingly small number of jump hour watches, both pocket watches and wristwatches, mainly to special order. These watches are predominantly known through literature and archival images (see Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, p. 120, pl. 167 - 169). It is interesting to note that the watches illustrated op. cit., including a comparable model with case no. 816'215, were most likely also destined for the North American market as all dials are bearing the signature "Patek Philippe & Co., Geneva, Switzerland".
The ébauches for these rare watches were commissioned by Patek Philippe and made by LeCoultre, updated with the jump hour mechanism manufactured by the renowned Victorin Piguet & Co. of Le Sentier.
Particularly fashionable during the "Roaring Twenties", their simplicist layout harmonized perfectly with the purely decorative Art Deco style, seen as elegant, functional, and ultra modern.
To date, the only jump hour model by Patek Philippe produced in series is reference 3969, the commemorative tonneau-shaped wristwatch made for the firm's 150th anniversary in 1989.
Thomas Hartford Gillespie (1870-1950)
According to the engraved inscription, the present watch was given to Thomas Hartford Gillespie in celebration of his retirement. Thomas Gillespie worked for the Standard Steel Car Company in Pennsylvania from 1903 until 1930 and was apparently a close friend of the firm's founder, James Buchanan Brady, also known as Diamond Jim Brady. He remained with Standard Steel Car after the merger with the Pullman Car Company in 1929 and continued his successful career until his retirement in 1930.
James Buchanan Brady (1856 -1917)
James Buchanan Brady, also known as Diamond Jim Brady, was an American businessman, financier, and philanthropist of the Gilded Age.
Born in New York City to a modest household, Brady worked his way up from bellboy and messenger. After gaining employment in the New York Central Railroad system, he became the chief assistant to the general manager by the age of 21. At 23, Brady parlayed his knowledge of the railroad industry and its officials to become a highly successful salesman for Manning, Maxwell and Moore, a railroad supply company.
Known for his penchant for jewels, especially diamonds, he collected precious stones and jewelry in excess of US$ 2 million (today over US$50 million).
Brady's enormous appetite and resultant girth were as legendary as his wealth. It was not unusual for Brady to eat enough food for ten people at a sitting. George Rector, owner of a favorite restaurant, described Brady as "the best 25 customers I ever had".
A gregarious man, Brady was a mainstay of Broadway nightlife and often dined with popular society. After further investments in the stock market, he accumulated wealth estimated at US$12 million at the time, around US$300 million today. Brady was also known for being the first person in New York City to own an automobile (in 1895).
Brady donated a significant sum in 1912 to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where he had once been treated. The hospital created the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute in his honor.
The Standard Steel Car Company
The Standard Steel Car Company was founded in 1902 by James Buchanan Brady together with John M. Hansen as the new company's President and Brady its Vice-President in Charge of Sales. A manufacturer of railroad rolling stock established in Butler, Pennsylvania, and opened plants in the US as well as in La Rochelle, France and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 1913, Standard Steel Car also entered the field of automobile production with the Standard Eight, which in 1919 had 83 horsepower (62 kW). Automobile production ended in 1921.
Pullman, Inc. purchased control of the firm in 1929 and merged it with Pullman Car & Manufacturing in 1934 to form Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company.