With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1954 and its subsequent sale on 11 March 1964. The Extract further states that the movement was made in 1954, completed in 1962 and encased in 1963.
With the economical recovery after World War II and simultaneously improving production methods, it is by no surprise that Patek Philippe's output had healthily grown during the post war years. However, as a consequence, fewer and fewer exceptions could be granted for special "one offs", unlike during the earlier part of the 20th century when the firm's most demanding clients would tailor-make the watches of their dreams in the Geneva workshops. Logically, most post war wristwatches are referenced and were only available in a limited and preset number of case metals and dial versions.
It comes consequently as no surprise that the firm's most passionate clients developed desires which could not be fulfilled. It needed one of the world's most prominent collectors to address himself to Patek Philippe's management during the mid 1980s to formulate a dial design for his reference 2499 which was beyond the levels of sophistication meeting the company's broader clienteles' taste: a black lacquer dial with gold Breguet numerals and all scales and signatures in beige-gold tone. Exceptionally this request was granted.
This job was entrusted to Stern Frères who were responsible for the perfect result. Interestingly, at Stern Frères archive a document dated 1987 was located, revealing a first stage and mentioning the date of delivery - the result was simply striking.
The watch has somehow changed its character, from masculine geometric to daring flamboyant. It has shortly after its completion moved into the current collection where it has been for nearly twenty years. Since published in Patek Philippe Complicated Wrist Watches, it has left an entire generation of watch collectors in astonishment and provoked new desires.
Consigned by one of the world's most important private collectors, the watch is furthermore preserved in very good original overall condition. The case has not been subject to careless polishing, the dial is free from any signs of cosmetical enhancement.
Few wristwatches incorporate such an impressive quantity of attributes as the present watch, starting with the provenance, rarity and condition and ending with the spectacular looks - to sum it up this third series reference 2499 is the top-of-the-line vintage wristwatch for any collector looking only for the best.
Reference 2499, widely acknowledged as one of the world's greatest watch models ever created, has undoubtedly greatly influenced the designs of many of the most renowned watchmakers. Introduced to the market in 1950 it replaced the legendary reference 1518, the world's first perpetual calendar wristwatch with chronograph made in series (see lots 188 and 291 in this auction).
Over a period of 35 years, reference 2499 was made in four series in a total production of only 349 pieces, the majority cased in yellow gold. The rarity of this model becomes evident when considering that an annual average of only 9 watches left Patek Philippe's workshops.
Reference 2499 is generally divided into the following four series:
- first series: square chronograph buttons, applied Arabic numerals and tachymetre scale
- second series: round chronograph buttons, either applied baton or applied Arabic numerals and tachymetre scale
- third series, such as the present watch: round chronograph buttons, applied baton numerals and outer seconds divisions
- fourth series: round chronograph buttons, applied baton numerals, outer seconds divisions and sapphire crystal
Reference 2499 is illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, pp. 302 & 304.