In the 1930s, production levels for Audemars Piguet dropped nearly to a halt following the worldwide economic depression resulting after the 1929 stock market crash. The firm adjusted by re-assessing the number of watchmakers on staff, but remained committed to the tradition of haute horlogerie that continues to define the brand today. By 1939, the firm began to produce more commercially priced chronograph wristwatches in order to safe-guard their fine watchmaker's and the skills they have acquired over many years.
The category of pre-war Audemars Piguet Chronograph wristwatches are exceptionally rare. One such chronograph model numbered ahead of our present lot by only five digits appears in Brunner, Pfeoffer-Belli, and Wehrli, Audemars Piguet Masterpieces of Classical Watchmaking, 1993, p. 242. Another model with similar dial configuration with movement number 45603 and manufactured one year after the present lot, sold at Sotheby's Geneva, November 2013, lot 261.
The closest chronograph in number published of the same style is number 45996, appearing in Audemars Piguet 20th Century Complicated Wristwatches, 2018, p. 182, alongside a chronograph bearing an identical dial, number 45602. According to our research, there are 5 chronographs known with identical cases and variations on the dial with the 12 o'clock indication always an Arabic numeral.
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