The present unique watch is a remarkable piece of Patek Philippe history - a watch created by André Zibach, one of the most renowned and important watchmakers who ever worked for Patek Philippe, to be a wedding gift for a close friend with a case made Emile Vichet, a firm some consider the bestcase maker ever for Patek Philippe wristwatches. Notably, the Extract from the Archives of Patek Philippe notes that the movement was sold without a case to Mr. Zibach on October 28, 1936. The Extract also notes that the dial was silvered with gold markers, so Mr. Zibach was able to receive an exceptional Stern Frères dial along with the 9 ligne movement with anchor escapement that was originally manufactured in 1929.
Watchmakers were not known to have particularly lavish salaries in that era, so one can hypothesize that the Mr. Zibach requested to purchase the movement along with dial without a case in order to be able to commission a gold case for the movement and dial directly and save the cost of having the case purchased through Patek Philippe. The inside of the case shows Poinçon de Maître key 9, also known as a collective responsibility mark, indicating the watch was made by Emile Vichet in Geneva. The case has the Patek Philippe signature on the inside, but instead of a unique case number it has the movement number, 822'397, duplicated as the case number, presumably due to this unusual commission.
Notably, the Emile Vichet case on the present watch shows notable characteristics of the great cases it would later make for legendary Patek Philippe complicated wristwatches. The case shape features beautiful flowing downturned lugs as well as a flat and thin case back allowing the watch to sit on a flat surface like a work of contemporary art. The case design for this unique watch is similar to the cases Vichet made for the reference 130 chronograph contemporaneously. These cases in turn were the basis for the cases Vichet later made for the the legendary reference 1526 perpetual calendar and reference 1518 perpetual calendar chronograph watches. Vichet then made the earliest cases for the successor reference 2497 perpetual calendar and reference 2499 perpetual calendar chronograph watches, with Vichet cases valued much higher by collectors than the later cases made by Wenger.
Born in 1904, André Zibach studied Geneva Watchmaking School and upon receiving his diploma he was fortunate to join Patek Philippe, a company that would benefit from his gifts and genius.
Zibach had an exceptional talent for precisely regulating movements and became a "régleur" or "adjuster" for Patek Philippe. He won many awards from the Geneva and Kew Observatories beginning in 1929. Watch company's valued regleurs as their most important watchmakers because of the attention that chronometric timing competitions were receiving during the era of the middle of the 20th century, with company's prestige put on the line based on the performance of their watches prepared by the régleurs.
One mythical watch Mr. Zibach regulated was the J.B. Champion reference 2458, certified by the Geneva Observatory with a Bulletin de Marche for its outstanding and prize-winning performance, and sold at auction in Geneva in 2012 for CHF 3,779,000.
To this day, only two Patek Philippe timepieces are known to have been owned by Mr. Zibach: the aforementioned reference 1582 with prototype Gyromax balance that sold at auction in New York for $137,500 in 2016 and the present unique watch that was a labor of love by Mr. Zibach for a dear friend as a wedding gift. It is clear this watch holds many secrets, for which we may never have all the answers, but it stirs the imagination. Mr. Zibach's gifts and genius would lead him to regulating so many important Patek Philippe watches and change history for the company while Emile Vichet's cases would be celebrated as works of art integral to the finest examples of the references 1518 and 2499. This is certainly a watch of historic interest, but also a watch of emotion and beauty.
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