Henry Graves, Jr.
Reginald H. Fullerton, Jr.
Accompanied by copy of Mr. Fullerton's service records from Patek Philippe confirming cleaning and overhaul of this watch in March 2000.
Made especially for Henry Graves, Jr., this massive and unique wristwatch was a pivotal departure in Graves' late 1940s collecting habits. While his earlier acquisitions focused on accuracy and complication in the form of pocket watches, Graves' purchases in the late 1940s turned their focus to wristwatches. As he approached his 80th birthday, Graves decided to buy watches that could be discreetly worn and reflect the current fashion. The hands-free convenience of wearing a wristwatch over a pocket watch also appealed to his practicality.
However, Graves' wristwatch purchases were not meant to be showpieces; they were chosen for their precision and the architectural structure of their cases and dials. In this spirit, Graves would enthusiastically welcome such a unique watch to his collection as this massive platinum rectangular wristwatch. As with his pocket watches, a wristwatch made for Henry Graves, Jr. needed to be superlative, and this special order filled this desire.
Bought directly from Tiffany & Co., New York in late 1947 for the grand price of $1500, this watch shared the same retail as a Ref. 1518 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, the most complicated Patek Philippe wristwatch of the day. This price represents one of the highest sums paid for any Patek Philippe time-only watch from the era. Furthermore, the records indicate that the Henri Stern Watch Agency (HSWA) took a special loss of $525 in the production of this special order for their patron collector. Knowing how much Graves purchased from Patek Philippe, the decision to sell this watch to Graves at a loss was most likely an easy business decision to make.
The reason for the high cost of this particular watch was the specially made and extremely heavy platinum case. During the second World War, platinum was declared a strategic metal and its use in the production of jewelry and watches was almost unheard of and often forbidden. Considering that Graves bought almost exclusively platinum Patek Philippe watches during the 1930s, he was enthusiastic to own a wristwatch of the same favored case metal and status that matched his pre-war collecting habits. The Henri Stern Watch Agency ordered the case on behalf of Tiffany & Co. for Mr. Graves from the French casemaker Villaret-Dauvergne. It is likely that the choice of supplier was a simple decision of economics to ensure Mr. Graves' satisfaction in quality while managing the costs of such a large case in such a precious metal.
The movement of this watch was completed and sold to HSWA in 1942. The 12 lignes movement was chosen for Mr. Graves' watch for its observatory-quality finish and accuracy. Stamped twice with the seal of Geneva, the movement represented the highest quality of Patek Philippe's wristwatch calibers.
The watch features an equally massive dial that made the time easy to read and the wearable equivalent of the Supercomplication in terms of magnitude. Then as now, the design of this watch inspires confidence and ensures quality with an unquestionably timeless style.
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