One of the most famous vintage watches associated with any American athlete is the Patek Philippe reference 130 chronograph with Breguet numerals that was owned by Joe DiMaggio. In fact, for many, this very watch was one of the highlights of the Patek Philippe Grand Exhibition held in New York this year. It was a special opportunity to see a watch that had remained in a private collection for years.
Joe DiMaggio is regarded as one of the most legendary players to ever wear the iconic blue and white pinstripes of the Yankees uniform. With nicknames such as "Joltin' Joe" and "The Yankee Clipper", he is regarded as one of the greatest hitters of all time. DiMaggio was a link in the legendary chain of Yankees players active in the 20th century. He played alongside Lou Gehrig, who had played with Babe Ruth, for a number of years and ended his career playing alongside a young Mickey Mantle. DiMaggio is best known for his legendary 56-game hitting streak in 1941, a record that amazingly still stands to this day, 76 years later.
It was not only his skills on the field that earned him the title of one of the most respected men in American history. DiMaggio's life was one of many wins, from his roots in San Francisco to becoming a star Yankee player, even after his more than impressive career, served voluntarily in the U.S. Military during World War II.
The provenance of this wristwatch may seem almost dream-like, but the watch itself is a dream come true for collectors of vintage Patek Philippe. Firstly, the reference 130 is one of Patek Philippe's landmark models, The first chronograph to be given a reference number, it was launched in 1934 and remained in production until the 1960s. Distinguished by its timeless design, the model remains an icon of vintage production. When looking at the dial, one is immediately drawn to the applied gold Breguet numerals, beautifully set against the immaculately preserved silvered dial. With raised enamel, the manufacturer’s signature and scales represent the firm's skill of production. Furthermore, the case is also exceedingly well-preserved, highlighted in the hallmark to the case side, similar to when this watch left the factory 50 years ago. Offered with what appears to be the original strap, likely worn by Joe DiMaggio himself, this watch presents a one of a kind opportunity for collectors.
First offered at Hunt Auctions in 2006 as part of the celebrated Joe DiMaggio Auction, a public auction of his most treasured personal belongings, the present watch has been kept in a private collection ever since. Most recently it was admired by many as one of the main attractions of the Patek Philippe Grand Exhibition this past July in New York, however, for viewing purposes only. As thousands of watch enthusiasts from all over the world travelled to Cipriani on 42nd Street simply to catch a glimpse of this timepiece on display, Christie’s is delighted to be able to offer this icon for sale for the first time in over a decade.