PROPERTY FROM A MIDWESTERN COLLECTION
The First Ref. 1416
The present lot belongs to the extremely rarely-seen Reference 1416, a model believed by scholars to exist in only three examples in yellow gold. The other two have already appeared at auction, in 1999 and 2010. Reviewing the serial numbers of those examples, one notes that the present example was the first made of this exceedingly limited production run. It is also final piece to come to auction, having never been offered previously.
Movement 176122 Case 618819: The present lot, with trident-style hour hand and 29 world cities on bezel
Movement 176123 Case 618820: Sold at Christie's, Geneva, lot 113, November 15, 2010 (with moon-style hour hand and 30 world cities on bezel)
Movement 176125 Case 618821: Sold at Antiquorum, Geneva, lot 617, April 24, 1999 (with moon-style hour hand and 30 world cities on bezel)
The original advertisement for this model illustrates characteristics unique only to the present example. It is thus reasonable to deduce that it is indeed this example illustrated, as its bezel lists 29 cities and it has a trident-style hour hand.
Students of vintage world time wristwatches are best acquainted with the Ref. 1415, which was produced from 1939 to 1954, and is estimated to exist in about 115 pieces. With its teardrop lugs and relatively small size, it is easily recognized. The Ref. 1416 was made in 1939 and 1940 only, and features unusual claw-form lugs, which are striking and unlike virtually every other vintage Patek Philippe.
The present example retains its original sharp lines in breathtaking unpolished condition. The claw-form lugs are sharp to the touch, perfectly linear from the front and crisply ovoid from the profile, where an untouched hallmark is as easily legible as the day it was struck. The rotating bezel features 29 world cities in black enamel, with a distinct and crisp faceted edge, again perfectly preserved here. The other two known examples listed above feature 30 cities each; the present example excludes 'Aden' (Yemen), making it a unique piece even in this rarefied group.
The 'Heures Universelles' function of this model operates via the rotating bezel. When the bezel is rotated so that the home city is at the 12 o'clock position, and the watch is set to the local time zone, the 24-hour indication adjusts automatically so that one can see the current time in 41 world cities. Because the case, dial, and movement are all integral to the technical function of the watch, Louis Cottier, who was the creator of the World Time, supervised the production of each element.
Louis Cottier (1894-1996) was born in Carouge and attended the Horological School of Geneva before going to work for his father and horological mentor Emmanuel Cottier (1858-1930). Like his father, Cottier was a very talented mechanical genius and went on to develop numerous patents that changed the face of watchmaking. Reacting to the realities of the Great Depression, Cottier saw a niche in high-end watchmaking and focused his talents on the development of complicated watches. Foremost among these discoveries was his development of the world time mechanism in the 1930s. This invention would inspire some of the most iconic Patek Philippe complications. Indeed, the world time mechanism is one of the greatest successes of watchmaking, and Patek Philippe's contemporary offerings, such as Refs. 5110 and 5130 are clearly inspired from these early models.
Ref. 1416 is illustrated in Huber, M. & Banbery, A., Patek Philippe Wristwatches, p. 244.
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