With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1954 and its subsequent sale on 31 July 1957. Furthermore delivered with Dean Witter's journals Solo Safari, a wild game hunting trip to British East Africa in 1948, Meanderings of a Fisherman: a diary of fishing expedition from the American Pacific Northwest and Canadian West to Quebec and New Zealand, finished in 1955 and Shikar, a tiger and wild game hunting safari in India and Southeast Asia in 1961.
Tradition, individualism, reliability and perfection are attributes that come to one's mind when describing both the present reference 2438/1 and its first owner, the iconic entrepreneur, philanthropist, sportsman and hunter Dean Witter: the perfect match rare to find and impossible to top.
Reference 2438/1, Patek Philippe's only vintage perpetual calendar wristwatch made in series with a screw back, has always enjoyed enormous popularity amongst collectors, its masculine yet elegant look contributing to the immediate success of the legendary timepiece.
The exclusivity of the specimen offered here for sale is emphasized by the fact that it is amongst the earliest example of this celebrated reference in yellow gold known to date. The rarity is further enhanced by the luminous numerals and hands, most certainly added upon special request of Helen Witter who ordered the present reference 2438/1 for her beloved husband, allowing him to read the time also under more difficult conditions.
Preserved in excellent original overall condition, it impressively reveals the full potential in size and beauty this reference can offer. The sharp and clean lines of the substantial lugs paired with the crisp hallmark to the side witness that it was always treated with respect and expertise.
The dial has never been subject to cosmetic enhancement, displaying an incredibly appealing, uniform "gold dust" patina. The hard enamel signature and scales are as raised as the connoisseur would hope for.
Research has revealed that only two other examples of a first series reference 2438/1 in yellow gold have appeared in public to date but that the present specimen is the only one with such "luminous" dial, further enhancing the appeal of this rare timepiece. Furthermore, it is the second earliest reference 2438/1 known to exist, underlining the novelty character the watch must have enjoyed back in 1957 when the Witters, who were never settling for anything less than the best, acquired it.
One of the best examples of reference 2438/1 in yellow gold to appear in public in a long time, blessed with a highly interesting and important provenance, this watch represents a veritable trophy for the connoisseur of this legendary model.
In 1951, Patek Philippe launched reference 2497 (see lot 366 in this auction) and its water-resistant counterpart, reference 2438/1. A combined total of only 179 examples of these two models were produced, the majority cased in yellow gold.
Reference 2438/1 is generally divided into two different series:
- the first with applied Arabic numerals and dauphine hands
- the second series with applied baton numerals and dauphine hands
Reference 2438/1 is illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, p. 284.