With Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with pulsometre scale in 1940 and its subsequent sale on 19 July 1941. The extract further states that the original case was replaced by the case bearing the number 630'552 during a servicing in the Patek Philippe workshops in 1943.
The 1940s were, obviously, a time of great turmoil all over the world. Even after the end of the war, the new world order established and the psychological heritage of such a distressful time provided the fuel for radical changes that affected all aspects of society. As a matter of fact, even watchmaking was influenced by the historical context. It is, indeed, during the late 1930s and early 1940s that the wristwatch design became more utilitarian, minimalist, and somehow martial. These changes are perfectly exemplified by the evolution of chronograph wristwatches. The "1940s vibe" so well recognizable in chronographs manufactured at the time by all brands consists in a stronger and more masculine case and dial design. The art deco style, so typical and appreciated until just a decade before, seemed completely forgotten. The new fashion requested simpler and sturdier cases, thus the typical shape with strong downturned lugs and a frill-less round case, at times with a sharp stepped bezel. The dial becomes cleaner, usually presenting only the outer railway minute divisions, tachymetre scale and the two subsidiary counters. This "clean up" process will go on for decades, culminating in the 1960s, with supremely clean timepieces such as the legendary 3448. While Rolex had designed the Oyster case already in the late 1920s, it is during the 1940s that waterproof wristwatches became widespread, with most of the brands developing their own solutions for the water-resistance challenge.
Patek Philippe reference 130, which debuted in 1934, is the first product of this new trend. Soon enough came the split-seconds and the waterproof versions: reference 1436 in 1938, and reference 1463 in 1940. The effort to produce more and more technical and water resistant watches is undeniable. It is interesting to see how Patek Philippe reinterpreted the fashion and merged it with the firm's core values of elegance, refinement and exclusivity. Even reference 1463 with its robust two body case construction and screw back waterproof design is actually closer to an evening dress watch than to a purely utilitarian timepiece. It is obvious that the majority of the firm's clients are not members of armed forces, exploration expeditions or scuba diving societies. Patek Philippe's clientele are the world's most successful entrepreneurs, royalties, and celebrities. While also affected by the new fashion and expecting the design to follow suit, they demand a watch to make a statement through, not to work with.
One of the masterpiece models of Patek Philippe is the synthesis and culmination of this effort to achieve what one could define "technical elegance". Combining the split-seconds complication of reference 1436 and the waterproof case design of reference 1463, the manufacturer creates one of its scarcest and most mesmerizing models: reference 1563.
Only three examples of this charismatic reference are known to exist: the most famous perhaps formerly belonging to the jazz legend Duke Ellington is on permanent exhibition in the celebrated Patek Philippe Museum. The second example, movement no. 867'196, case no. 657'132, was sold in this saleroom on 11 November 2013 for nearly CHF1,5 million and is now in one of the world's most important private collections. The third and last reference 1563 is offered here for sale.
The present example of the celebrated 1563 Ellington chronograph can be regarded as the one with the most uncommon dial design, differing from its peers thus rendering it unique. It incorporates two style elements considered highly appealing by connoisseurs: the charismatic two-tone dial finish and the extremely rare pulsometre scale instead of the more common tachymetre indication. The Extract from the Archives confirms the pulsation dial, a fundamental point for collectors.
The rarity of the dial is further reflected by its superb original condition, uniformly aged over the years. The pulsation scale is printed on a silvered background, beautifully harmonizing with the subtle shades of beige and rose of the centre, further amplifying the two-tone display. The case impresses with its full proportions and very good definitions, the hallmark in the band as crisp as one would expect.
This unique "Pulsation 1563" is now consigned by one of the world's most important collectors, provenance, rarity, fabulous looks and Switzerland's finest engineering combined rendering it a "must have" for the seasoned collector. Only an exceedingly small number of wristwatches truly constitute rare opportunities for the passionate connoisseur. However considering that only three examples of a reference 1563 have appeared in over 30 years of auctions and that two of them are beyond the reach of collectors, it is not an overstatement when using these words to describe this fact.
The "Duke Ellington" reference 1563 is described and illustrated in Patek Philippe Museum - Patek Philippe - Volume II, p. 277, Inv. P-1247.