Today neither watch retains its original case. The present lot, movement no.198451 left the factory in case no. 609409 with a gold body and platinum bezel. That case currently houses the aforementioned 8 Day movement no.198443. According to our correspondence in 1995 with Patek Philippe, no. 198443 also left the factory in 1931 with a platinum case. To this day, the whereabouts of that case remain unknown.
Patek Philippe 8 Day Wristwatches
• 198309- movement only illustrated in Huber, M. & Banbery, A., Patek Philippe Watches Second Edition, Vol. II, p.33, fig. 30
• 198443- (now with case no. 609.409) sold at Sotheby’s New York, June 1995, lot 489 and subsequently resold at Antiquorum Geneva, October 2003, lot 558
• 198450- archive photo illustrated in Kahlert, H., Muhe, R. & Brunner, G., Armbanduhren, 1983, p. 38 middle top row
• 198451- the present lot, sold Sotheby's New York, October 1987, lot 178
Of the four known 8 day examples, the present lot is the most highly jeweled, featuring 23 jewels. The others have between 20 and 22 jewels. All four watches bore the reference number 88, no doubt a numerical nod to the 8 day movement.
The Unique Reference Number 3655
After extensive scholarly research, no explanation or clarification has been found for this perplexing case exchange. Upon its rediscovery in the mid 1980s, the movement no.198451 no longer had a case. The usage of reference number 3655, stamped on the case of the present lot, is a highly important indicator of the value Patek Philippe placed on the rediscovered 8 day no. 198451.
The unique reference number 3655 belongs to a series of reference numbers that Patek Philippe apparently reserved for early complicated movements which they had cased in-house. It is no coincidence that these exceptional and fascinating pieces were created in the 1980s, as vintage wristwatch collecting grew as a serious pursuit of connoisseurs.
This special series is found in two other examples: Ref. 3651 and Ref. 3652. Ref. 3651 was a case assigned to Patek Philippe vintage chronograph movements, based on the express desire of collectors for a new chronograph wristwatch inspired by Ref. 1463. There are 12 examples of this reference known from the 1980s. Ref. 3652 was assigned to an early minute repeating movement, cased by Patek Philippe in 1985. The case number of this unique example is 2.818.356, exceptionally close to the case of the presently offered lot.
The present lot, no. 198451, was first published in the 1986 book, I Signori del Tempo, by Nencini and Negretti, one of the first books on wristwatches.
Almost 10 years after the 1987 sale of the present lot, no. 198451 at Sotheby’s New York, a great discovery was made, and with it, an added layer of complexity arose. In 1995, Sotheby’s was honored to offer the second 8 Day wristwatch at auction, with movement no. 198443 and case no. 609409.
At first glance, this watch provided the perfect opportunity to offer a Patek Phillippe 8 Day wristwatch which was not only previously unknown, but also, presumably still with its original case and dial.
That assumption proved incorrect, and intertwined lives of these two watches became evident. While researching no. 198443, Sotheby’s ordered an Extract from the Archives from Patek Philippe, a service Patek Philippe did not offer at the time of the first 8 Day sale. It came as a great surprise when the firm issued an Extract from the Archives, stating that case no. 609409 was not the correct match for movement number 198443. What was even more incredible was the fact that case no. 609409 in fact belonged to the only other 8 Day watch known: no. 198451 sold by Sotheby’s in 1987, and offered as the present lot. This wealth of information supplied through correspondence with Patek Philippe at once created issues and solved them.
The notion that after this 80-year mystery, movement 198451 could be reunited with its original case 609.409 is simply too extraordinary resist.
Regardless of the outcome, the offering of the present 8 day wristwatch quite possibly provides the discerning collector the last opportunity to own this Iconic Patek Philippe.
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