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PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Patek Philippe
A FINE AND RARE PINK GOLD OPEN-FACED WORLD TIME WATCH WITH ENAMEL DIAL DEPICTING NORTH AMERICA REF 605HU MVT 931074 CASE 683465 MADE IN 1951
Estimate
200,000400,000
LOT SOLD. 982,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
253

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Patek Philippe
A FINE AND RARE PINK GOLD OPEN-FACED WORLD TIME WATCH WITH ENAMEL DIAL DEPICTING NORTH AMERICA REF 605HU MVT 931074 CASE 683465 MADE IN 1951
Estimate
200,000400,000
LOT SOLD. 982,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

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Patek Philippe
A FINE AND RARE PINK GOLD OPEN-FACED WORLD TIME WATCH WITH ENAMEL DIAL DEPICTING NORTH AMERICA REF 605HU MVT 931074 CASE 683465 MADE IN 1951
• cal. 17-170 straight line lever movement, 18 jewels • three-part dial, the central raised portion with polychrome cloisonné enamel depicting map of North America flanked by a palm tree and ship, applied gold dot indexes with Roman numerals at the quarters, pink gold lys hands, recessed rotating intermediate portion indicating 24 hours with diurnal and nocturnal indication, raised outer ring with world cities representing 41 different time zones • 18k pink gold case with coin-edge Louis Cottier-designed Heures Universelles rotating bezel, solid snap on case back • case, dial, and movement signed
diameter 44 mm
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Catalogue Note

With an Extract from the Archives confirming the enamel dial and date of sale on 23 August 1961.

The present lot, offered for the first time at auction on behalf of a descendant of the original owner, offers an extraordinary opportunity for the discerning collector. With its unbroken provenance, stunning condition and the sheer rarity of such an example, it is a trophy piece destined be the crown jewel of the collection it joins. Connoisseurs of vintage Patek Philippe watches seek complicated and scarce models, prizing cloisonné enamel dials above nearly every other variation. The present example ticks every box for a discriminating buyer, and in an age where fresh-to-the-market pieces become rarer with each passing year, the value assigned to such a piece can rightly be described as limitless. 

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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