Lot 193
  • 193

Patek Philippe

Estimate Upon Request
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • An important and possibly unique extra large single button chronograph wristwatch with register, stop slide and tachometer1925-1932 mvt 197952 case 415702
  • diameter 46mm.
17''' damascened fully jewelled nickel lever movement, bi-metallic compensation balance, satin finished chronograph bridges visible to the back-plate, precision regulator • 18k gold cuvette signed and numbered • silvered dial, applied flat pointed baton numerals, gold feuille hands, blued steel chronograph seconds hand, subsidiary dials for constant seconds and 30-minute register, outer tachometer scale • 18k gold massive hinged bassine case with rounded bezel, plain polished case back, down-turned lugs with gold spring bars, chronograph pusher through the crown with chronograph locking slide above, case, dial and movement signed, with original Patek Philippe 18k gold buckle


This watch was originally purchased by Count Carlo Felice Trossi.

Catalogue Note

Accompanied by and Extract from the Archives confirming production of this wristwatch from 1925 and sale on March 26th, 1932.

This lot is accompanied by the featured Scuderia Ferrari brochure from 1937 which shows Count Trossi wearing the present wristwatch.



"Trossi Leggenda" is one of the most exceptional chronograph wristwatches ever made by Patek Philippe. It is almost certainly unique and is the largest known single button chronograph wristwatch ever made by the Geneva watchmaker. The wristwatch was originally owned by Count Carlo Felice Trossi, President of Scuderia Ferrari who was himself, a racing driver, pilot and speed boat racer. This wristwatch was clearly specially chosen by Count Trossi as a practical timekeeper for use in motor racing and aviation to assist with the accurate timing of events in a highly visible format. The accompanying Scuderia Ferrari brochure shows Count Trossi wearing the watch in 1937 and must be one of the earliest examples of a wristwatch being worn on the outside of a shirt cuff.

Early in date, the "Trossi Leggenda" Patek Philippe was one of the first single button chronograph wristwatches made by the company and one of the earliest with horizontal registers; before this time, registers were usually displayed vertically on dials, which was the style more commonly found on pocket watches).


Count Carlo Felice Trossi was born into an aristocratic Italian family in Biella, a small city between Milan and Turin, on the 27th April 1908. Captivated by the possibilities of speed, Count Trossi was a keen motor car and speed boat racer as well as an early aviator. His technical knowledge and experience in those fields enabled him to create a Grand Prix car with an aircraft type engine, a rare feature for a racing car. With a 'hands on' approach, he provided full manufacturing facilities for the project in his own home, the magnificent Gaglianico Castle. The car was very futuristic in design and combined features from both aeroplanes and racing cars. The car is today exhibited in the Museo dell'Automobile in Turin.

As a successful entrepreneur, Count Trossi became an early financial supporter of the renowned Scuderia Ferrari company and was elected its President in 1932. Fulfilling his dreams, he successfully attained wins at the Italian and Swiss Grand Prix respectively in 1947 and 1948.

It seems that the "Trossi Leggenda" Patek Philippe may well have been specially requested a few weeks after Count Trossi's appointment to the Scuderia Ferrari Presidency. Today, the legacy of the "Trossi Leggenda" continues with this unique and stunning timepiece by Patek Philippe.

At 46mm in diameter, the "Trossi Leggenda" ranks as the largest single button chronograph wristwatch ever made by Patek Philippe. Indeed, the only vintage chronograph that can be compared in size to the present wristwatch is Patek Philippe no.867857, a unique aviator's wristwatch; however, that watch is a two button, split seconds chronograph. It should also be noted that 867857 is 20 years later in date than the "Trossi". Interestingly, however, the two watches have the same diameter of 46mm and it interesting to compare the two watches side by side (please refer to the printed catalogue for photographic comparison). The aviator split no.867857 is now exhibited in the Patek Philippe Museum.

The "Trossi" houses a massive 17''' extra quality movement that fills the width of the case. The split seconds aviator no.867857 watch, by contrast, features a smaller 13''' movement. Despite the watch's tremendous size, the "Trossi" Patek Philippe is perfectly proportioned. The lugs have a gauge of 24mm and are solidly shaped with a gentle downward curve. Many of the early chronograph wristwatches from this period feature wire lugs with solid bars, the present watch already features gold spring bars and the solidity of the lugs help maintain the overall harmony of the watch's design. By incorporating a gold cuvette under the case back, the watch also gains an extra solidity.


The dial of the 'Trossi' wristwatch is perfectly designed with large scales and substantial sunken subsidiary dials. It features a signature typical for the early period of dial production with the complete company name of "Patek Philippe & Cie, Genève". The large dial allows for a wide tachometer scale which would, of course, have been very useful when caluculating the speed of cars on a race track. The hands for the chronograph (i.e. the central chronograph seconds hand and the minute recording hand) are both blued steel moon hands to clearly separate them from the gold feuille minute and hour hands and the blued steel straight constant seconds hand. The flat wide applied baton numerals are typcial of the early 1930s and are clearly reminiscent of the classic calatrava dials of the same period. With harmonious symmetry, the dial of the 'Trossi' wristwatch blends perfectly with the classic form of its case.  


Patek Philippe played an important role in the development of the wristwatch industry at the beginning of the 20th century in both the technical and aesthetic appearance of the wristwatch.

Amongst all types of complications put into a wristwatch, the chronograph feature is certainly the most desirable amongst collectors worldwide. Originally dating back to the beginning of the XIXth century with the watchmaker Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec, who first timed a horse race on September 21st 1821, the chronograph feature was mostly used for Patek Philippe pocket watches and then miniaturized for wristwatches.

Patek Philippe has, in this particular type of complicated watch, always shown amazing skill not only in the design of dials and cases but also in the technical achievements of all their movements. The wide variety of chronograph wristwatches in Patek Philippe's production has been a significant asset for the excellence of the brand throughout the twentieth century.

The earliest chronograph wristwatches made by the Genevan watchmaker are easily recognizable by the case design which reminds us of pocket watches. Among chronograph movements that were placed in hinged cases is the famous early split seconds chronograph in an officer's style case, no.124824 originally sold in 1923 and later auctioned in 1999 for what was, at the time, a world record price.

Following the trend of hinged cased wristwatches, the "Trossi Leggenda" is also a benchmark in the history of chronograph wristwatches made by Patek Philippe. The extra-large size of this chronograph wristwatch, with its classic styling, demonstrates the perfect marriage between technical complexity and aesthetic beauty. The Trossi Leggenda was certainly the best way for Patek Philippe to begin writing the legend of chronograph sports watches.

Searching through the "text book" reference for Patek Philippe watches by Martin Huber and Alan Banbery, one notices very clearly the evolution of chronograph wristwatches throughout its golden age, from the Art Deco period to Post War design. Art historians and watch connoisseurs would find some important similarities between the production of cases and dials from Patek Philippe chronographs and other areas of the fine decorative arts. Case and dial designs shown in archive pictures have some clear and distinctive designs which have a wide ranging appeal. At first glance, dials from Patek Philippe chronograph wristwatches emphasize the impression of clarity, even though many details are put in a small amount of space to give the most accurate measurement of time. Amongst all watchmakers, Patek Philippe is arguably the only one to have developed a real artistry and such an impressive variety in the craftsmanship of dials.

If one looks carefully at Patek Philippe dials from vintage chronographs, they are well balanced with their registers perfectly horizontal or vertical, dividing the surface space into two distinctive parts. All the chronograph measurement scales, like the tachometer or even rarer pulsations, are placed on the outer ring. Thus in the central part of the dial it is very easy to read the time indication with some variants such as the two-tone or sector dial. The harmony in dials of all different types matches perfectly with the various aesthetic improvements and changing life styles from that period of time.

The design of the watch case completes the magic of the Patek Philippe chronograph wristwatch. One finds variations on tortue, cushion and classic 'calatrava' type circular cases complimented by gracefully down-turned lugs or unusual lugs with facets or hoods. Archive pictures enhance the fact that original case designs for chronograph wristwatches were one of the main factors that contributed to the establishment of the Patek Philippe chronograph as a symbol of 'haute horlogerie' and it is the "Trossi Leggenda" that stands nobly before them all.