It is a privilege for Christie’s to present this exceptional timepiece in public after several years as one of the stars of a highly important private collection.
The desirability of the reference 1463, Patek Philippe’s only vintage chronograph with a “water-resistant” case and round chronograph pushers, has never ceased. Around 740 pieces were made in yellow gold, pink gold and stainless steel. The pink gold version, of which only fifty-five examples are known publically today, is the rarest model and was often, like the present watch, specifically destined for the South American market.
Recent detailed study and research has firmly established that the present superlative second series pink gold reference 1463, once part of the Eric Clapton collection, is the only known example retailed by Serpico y Laino with Roman and dot numeral dial. Its rarity is even further enhanced when it is realized that of all the fifty-five-recorded reference 1463’s in pink gold, only three examples with this dial type are known to exist at all. Furthermore, a total of only seven pink gold reference 1463’s of all dial types are known signed by Serpico y Laino of Caracas, the present watch is to date unique among them. As such it is an immense rarity for the world-class collector.
The dial design seen on this watch can be considered one of the great all-time classics of Patek Philippe, in fact after almost 70 years its influence is still seen to this day in the contemporary chronograph collections.
Made entirely by hand by Stern Frères, the acknowledged masters of the art of dial making, it is preserved in most excellent condition. Stern Frères had always worked very closely with Patek Philippe being the only company with the know-how to make the perfect dials that were essential for their watches. In fact, Stern Frères dials for complicated watches were reserved almost exclusively for Patek Philippe who were additionally offered the first and exclusive choice on each new design or technique as it was developed.
The present dial, signed by both Patek Philippe and Serpico y Laino, Caracas, has a silver-opalin finish upon a silver base plate with engraved and enamelled decoration (signature, tachymeter, minutes/seconds scale and subsidiary dials). Once the features were engraved from a template, the enamellers would fill the engraved recesses with enamel and “bake” the dial up to a temperature of around 900 degrees therefore rendering the details both permanent and impervious. Both registers are sunk, using an engraving machine and the pink gold applied hour numerals and markers are cut, faceted and polished by all hand.
Two-piece “water-resistant” with screw-down back, made by Taubert, Geneva master case-maker whose mark of the number 11 within a key is punched on the interior of the back. Overall it is very well preserved with the hallmarks still clearly visible. It retains good lug edges and correct case proportions. Furthermore, the bezel shape is well preserved with sharp steps and the crown and pushers are likely original and period correct.
The present watch movement no. 867’932 was made in 1950, a caliber 13 130, rhodiumed brass, based on a Valjoux 13’’’ ébauche, 23 jewels, 18’000 oscillations, cut bi-metallic compensation balance, swan neck micrometric (high precision) adjustment.
The caliber 13 130, especially and exclusively made for Patek Philippe, was used from 1936 to 1985, a record 50 years, without any changes besides the shape of the main bridge in the first year or two, the micrometric balance regulator was introduced around 1938 on some movements and from around 1940 on all the production of the caliber.
Reference 1463 is one of the most highly prized vintage Patek Philippe chronographs on the market today. The ownership of a 1463 of any type is already regarded as a statement of exclusivity and discernment, the present watch in pink gold with the rarest dial type and the only known example amongst them signed by Serpico y Laino is therefore one of the great trophy watches of the reference. The new custodian of this exceptional chronograph will have the honour of beginning the next chapter in its illustrious history.
Serpico y Laino
Serpico y Laino was founded in the late 1920s by two Italian immigrants, Leopoldo Serpico and Vicente Laino, a young goldsmith. Initially focusing on jewellery, they soon expanded into watches and became the exclusive distribution agent for Rolex in Venezuela following a meeting with Hans Wilsdorf in Geneva in the early 1930s. Shortly after other brands were added and the firm was appointed the sole authorized retailer for another famous watch manufacturer: Patek Philippe. In 1966, after forty years of flourishing business, the leading watch retailer in Caracas closed.
For further study of the reference 1463 see:
"Patek Philippe Wristwatches", Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, 1998 edition, p. 267, and for calibre 13’’’-130 see: pp. 262, 265 & 269.
Similar watches are illustrated in: “Patek Philippe Museum”, Patek Philippe, 2014 edition, vol. II, pp. 268-269.
Ref. 1463 is also illustrated in “Blue Book 1, Study on Patek Philippe Wristwatches”, 2018 edition, pp. 320-345.
We are grateful to Eric and Gabriel Tortella for their kind assistance in researching this piece.