Accompanied by Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch with enamel coat of arms and initials D.D.B. and crown in 1907 and its subsequent sale on 3 January 1910.
To the best of our knowledge, the present watch was formerly the property of Ekaterina Dolgoroukia (1847-1922), better known as Katia Dolgorouky, second wife of Alexander II, Tsar of Russia.
Alexander was born in Moscow on 17 April 1818 as the eldest son of Emperor Nicolas I. After his father's death in 1855 he came to thrown and was crowned in the Dormition Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin on 26 August 1856. Tsar Alexander II was a significant reformer who transformed the Russian society profoundly, notably by abolishing slavery. In 1841, he married Maria of Hessen-Darmstadt (Maria Alexandrovna) with whom he had seven children.
Katia was the daughter of Prince Michael Michailovitch Dolgorouky, a direct descendant of the Grand Duke Yuri Dolgorouky, founder of Moscow in the 12th century.
The history of Alexander II and Katia inspired numerous authors, notably for the 1959 movie "Katia" starring Romy Schneider and Curd Jürgens. It appears that Alexander met Katia Dolgorouky in 1865 when strolling through a park nearby her school and he immediately felt in love with the beautiful young woman. Bound to etiquette, Katia had to resist his courting and became his mistress only one year later. But it was not until Maria Alexandrovna had passed away in 1880 that Alexander made their union official and married Katia. Unfortunately their happiness lasted only a short period as Alexander was the victim of a bomb thrown by an anarchist on 13 March 1881.
Remainders of their love story are the present watch and a smaller minute repeating hunter case pendant watch, number 97'036, owned by the Patek Philippe Museum (inv. P-307) and illustrated in Patek Philippe by Martin Huber & Alain Banbery, p. 210.
Except for their sizes, the watches are nearly identical. Both are fitted with a minute repeating movement, in engine-turned hunter cases and with the enamel coat of arms of the Dolgorouky family to the covers. Both backs show inlaid enamel initials surmounted by a crown, reading PCD and D.D.B..
According to A. Tellier's Alexandre II et Katia: une passion éternelle, the enamel miniature portraits depicting Tsar Alexander II and, most probably, Katia Dolgorouky are both the work of François Mauris.
François Mauris was an enamel painter, active in Geneva at the end of the 19th century/beginning of the 20th century. He was working for Patek Philippe and participated at the Geneva National Exhibition in 1896 as well as the Brussels 1897 Exposition Universelle where he was awarded a gold medal.
The two watches were sold in January 1910 to a certain J.L. Koller for the amount of 2,300 Francs and have most probably belonged to Katia Dolgoroukia. Although no written proof exists it can be assumed that they were ordered either by Katia or by one of her children or have possibly been given to her as a gift.