Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
A Connoisseur's Vision - Ten vintage complicated Patek Philippe wristwatches from one of the worlds most significant private collections
In 1992, together with another private collector, the present collector brought out the first book dedicated to complicated Patek Philippe wristwatches. At the time, the only other publication dedicated to wristwatches by this distinguished Geneva manufacturer was the official book edited by Patek Philippe. Shortly after its publication, I discovered Complicated Patek Philippe Wristwatches. Throughout my career as a specialist this book has repeatedly served as a valuable source of scholarship and of inspiration. This reference book is now considered a collector's piece in its own right.
Last year, when I visited the collector for the first time, I learned how it all started. In the mid 1970s he discovered an appealing Rolex Prince in the Portobello Market. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs with a great sensitivity for good engineering, he appreciated the perfect harmony of technical complexity and superb design. The initial Rolex rapidly grew into a collection. One day around 1979, the collector held a vintage perpetual calendar wristwatch by Patek Philippe in his hands for the first time. He recalls very well that at that moment he knew that this was going to be the passion for which he would want to sacrifice his existing collection.
During the 1970s there were no reference books available on vintage wristwatches, no museums exhibited wristwatches as they do today, and international watch auctions did not include wristwatches. All information was down to personal research, exchange with other collectors and manual study at home. It certainly took passion, connoisseurship, perseverance and vision to pursue this new field of collecting.
Shortly after, auction houses started to accept vintage wristwatches for their established auctions of pocket watches and clocks. Not only did this allow collectors to compare their watches with the pieces on offer, but they were able to discover new models and exchange information in New York, London or Geneva with similarly minded collectors. Throughout the 1980s, the collector enlarged and improved his collection. Gradually, he put together what today is known to be one of the finest groups of ultra-rare complicated Patek Philippe watches in the world.
Since publishing the book nearly two decades ago, the collector has not added any further pieces to his collection mainly due to his inability to discover further missing models or new variations. The collection was locked away and none of the watches have been worn or shown publicly since the early 1990s.
It is a great privilege to Christies to have been chosen to handle the sale of ten Patek Philippe masterpieces from this collection (lots 50 - 51, 84 - 85, 158, 219, 334, 336, 379 and 381). Of equal importance is the pleasure in offering new generations of collectors the means of travelling back in time; a time in which they were not yet active as collectors. For time, which is the essence of watch making, gives us a second opportunity to discover, study and bid on treasures which were one man's vision and his passion for over 30 years.