PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION
A similar example with serial numbers differing in only one digit (mvt 931073 case 683466) belongs to the Patek Philippe Museum Collection, making the present lot of immeasurable importance to collectors. It is also in pink gold, and features an identical enamel dial; indeed, it differs only in that the cities in the Museum's example are listed in French whereas the present example lists the cities in English. The Museum piece is illustrated in the Patek Philippe Museum, Patek Philippe, Vol. II, Geneva: 2014. p. 341.
Ref. 605 was created in fewer than one hundred examples in total, with production commencing in 1937 and continuing for nearly thirty years. Examples were available in yellow and pink gold, with dial color and layout variations. It is estimated that three-quarters were cased in yellow gold and one-quarter in pink gold.
The 'Heures Universelles' function in Ref 605 is operated via the bezel, a mechanism shared by this and the wristwatch Ref. 1415. By rotating the bezel so that the home city is at the 12:00 position and setting the watch to the local time zone, the recessed 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 supervised the production of each element.
It is interesting to note that the present example, like many of Cottier's inventions, lists London and Paris on the same time zone, Greenwich Mean Time. On June 15th, 1940, Paris converted to Central European time due to the war. For many years, it was thought that Paris would eventually revert back to GMT, and there are Patek Philippe 'Heures Universelles' watches and wristwatches from as late as the 1970s which still list Paris and London on the same time zone.
Louis Cottier (1894-1966) 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 for Patek Philippe, Agassiz, Rolex, and Vacheron Constantin. 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.
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