PROPERTY OF A MIDWESTERN FAMILY
With its triple complication, the present lot represents the apex of Patek Philippe's technical creations. Its black dial and modern, angular lines lend aesthetic appeal beyond traditional collectors of pocket watches to connoisseurs of mid-century complicated wristwatches as well. Indeed, were a Patek Philippe wristwatch to surface featuring perpetual calendar, split second chronograph, minute repeater and a black dial confirmed on the Extract from the Archives, as in the present lot, it would fetch seven figures handily. Here, the glint of the gilt printing on the black dial combined with the sharp edges of the case command the pulse-quickening desire so familiar to relentless seekers of Patek Philippe trophy watches.
This similarity to the typical wristwatch format and lines is achieved through the 17''' calibre movement with some modifications of placement intended to make the watch as flat as possible for carrying. The case is marked with a key indicating production by Emile Vichet. Furthermore, the subsidiary dials are enlarged, enhancing the overall legibility of each indication. One reason black dials are so rare for complicated watches is that each element of the display must first be engraved on the dial plate before being inlaid with gold.
The present lot belongs to Ref. 658, which was launched in 1937 and in production until the late 1950s. It is estimated that only 15 examples of Ref. 658 were produced, of which only seven have appeared on the market. Each of these have featured silvered dials, and furthermore vary in the placement, display, and size of the subsidiary dials.
Based on an exhaustive study of similar watches, it can be surmised that the present lot is the first known Ref. 658 to have been produced, a unique piece and furthermore featured in multiple 1930s Patek Philippe advertisements. At least three historical marketing documents feature an identical piece with a black dial and the signature of the prestigious retailer Gübelin. It is no surprise that Patek Philippe chose to partner with Gübelin for a watch of such importance. The hugely significant and historical house traces its roots to 1854 in Lucerne, and established a presence in the US in 1922, at 576 5th Avenue. As the Extract confirms that the watch was made in the launch year of 1937, we can further note that this was likely the first piece from the series and selected for advertising due to its stunning look, decades ahead of its time.
The present lot is being offered for the first time at a public auction.
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