View full screen - View 1 of Lot 78. A fine and possibly unique set of three torpedo boat navigator's trio silver open faced watches with power reserve, and original fitted and numbered box, Made in 1912, Sold to the US Navy on 8 December 1917, and used on the US Zeppelin Airship Los Angeles (ZR-3)  百達翡麗 一組三枚 Navigator's Trio 銀製懷錶備動力儲存顯示,附原廠錶盒,錶盒印有編號,1912年製,1917年12月8日售予美國海軍,曾於美國齊柏林飛船洛杉磯號(ZR-3)上使用,可能為孤品.
78

Patek Philippe

A fine and possibly unique set of three torpedo boat navigator's trio silver open faced watches with power reserve, and original fitted and numbered box, Made in 1912, Sold to the US Navy on 8 December 1917, and used on the US Zeppelin Airship Los Angeles (ZR-3) 百達翡麗 一組三枚 Navigator's Trio 銀製懷錶備動力儲存顯示,附原廠錶盒,錶盒印有編號,1912年製,1917年12月8日售予美國海軍,曾於美國齊柏林飛船洛杉磯號(ZR-3)上使用,可能為孤品

Property from an Important Collection

Patek Philippe

Patek Philippe

A fine and possibly unique set of three torpedo boat navigator's trio silver open faced watches with power reserve, and original fitted and numbered box, Made in 1912, Sold to the US Navy on 8 December 1917, and used on the US Zeppelin Airship Los Angeles (ZR-3) 百達翡麗 一組三枚 Navigator's Trio 銀製懷錶備動力儲存顯示,附原廠錶盒,錶盒印有編號,1912年製,1917年12月8日售予美國海軍,曾於美國齊柏林飛船洛杉磯號(ZR-3)上使用,可能為孤品

A fine and possibly unique set of three torpedo boat navigator's trio silver open faced watches with power reserve, and original fitted and numbered box, Made in 1912, Sold to the US Navy on 8 December 1917, and used on the US Zeppelin Airship Los Angeles (ZR-3) 百達翡麗 一組三枚 Navigator's Trio 銀製懷錶備動力儲存顯示,附原廠錶盒,錶盒印有編號,1912年製,1917年12月8日售予美國海軍,曾於美國齊柏林飛船洛杉磯號(ZR-3)上使用,可能為孤品

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A fine and possibly unique set of three torpedo boat navigator's trio silver open faced watches with power reserve, and original fitted and numbered box, Made in 1912

Sold to the US Navy on 8 December 1917, and used on the US Zeppelin Airship Los Angeles (ZR-3)


Dial: silvered

Caliber: 21'" ligne mechanical, guillaume balances with winged armed, Breguet balance springs, diamond end stones, (Swiss patent 2680, 27 September 1890)

Movement number: 170’414

Case: silvered, engraved hinged case back; US NAVY

Case number: 274’699

Size: 60 mm diameter

Signed: case, dial and movement

Dial: silvered

Caliber: 21'" ligne mechanical, guillaume balances with winged armed, Breguet balance springs, diamond end stones, (Swiss patent 2680, 27 September 1890)

Movement number: 170’416

Case: silvered, engraved hinged case back; US NAVY

Case number: 274’701

Size: 60 mm diameter

Signed: case, dial and movement

Dial: silvered

Caliber: 21'" ligne mechanical, guillaume balances with winged armed, Breguet balance springs, diamond end stones, (Swiss patent 2680, 27 September 1890)

Movement number: 170'417

Case: silvered, engraved hinged case back; US NAVY

Case number: 274’693

Size: 60 mm diameter

Signed: case, dial and movement

Box: Yes

Papers: No

Accessories: Original fitted US NAVY mahogany box with with brass plaques for each corresponding watch's movement number, removable display tray with strut. Box measuring approximately 10 x 4.5 x 2.25 inches. 

Together with three Patek Philippe Extracts from the Archives confirming the year of manufacture for each timepiece in 1912, and sale on 8 December 1917, all obtaining Geneva Observatory rating certificates in 1913.

Facsimile Geneva Observatory rating certificates with corresponding testing records

Cases: Cases in overall very good condition with patina to the silver normal with age and use. Each watch is engraved " US NAVY" to the hinged case back. PPC stamp to the bow. Some normal surface scratches and nicks visible to the naked eye. Watch with movement number 170416 with some small indentations and a chip to the crystal glazing.


Dials: Dials in overall good condition with light wear and patina. Some darkening in color, surface spots and debris more visible to Watch with movement number 170416. This watch also with scratches to the dial at the power reserve aperture and the Switzerland signature is with inconsistency and fading.


Movements: The movement is running at time of cataloging, however it was not tested for the accuracy of time or duration of the power reserve and may need service at the buyer's discretion. Please note that Sotheby's does not guarantee the future working of the movement. Please note that the box is in good overall condition with wear consistent with. Strut to the display box with visible wear. The green felt lining with some dirt and discoloration. Marks, scuffs, and some indentations to the outer areas.


"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. All dimensions in catalogue descriptions are approximate. Condition reports may not specify mechanical replacements or imperfections to the movement, case, dial, pendulum, separate base(s) or dome. Watches in water-resistant cases have been opened to examine movements but no warranties are made that the watches are currently water-resistant. Please note that we do not guarantee the authenticity of any individual component parts, such as wheels, hands, crowns, crystals, screws, bracelets and leather bands, since subsequent repairs and restoration work may have resulted in the replacement of original parts. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. In particular, please note it is the purchaser's responsibility to comply with any applicable import and export matters, particularly in relation to lots incorporating materials from endangered species.NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."


**Please be advised that bands made of materials derived from endangered or otherwise protected species (i.e. alligator and crocodile) are not sold with the watches and are for display purposes only. We reserve the right to remove these bands prior to shipping."

The present lot is an extraordinary and exemplary example of the U.S. Navy's call to the chronometer watch in the first half of the 20th century. It is even more remarkable to discover this artifact intact today, with a wealth of provenance and history. This Navigator's trio served on one of four US Navy zeppelins, the USS Los Angeles; an incredible aircraft that flew from Friedrichshafen, Germany to New York, US in only 81 hours in 1924.

A Navigator's Trio or 'Torpedo-Boat Navigator's Timing Outfit', was a set of three chronometer tool watches recommended by the official US Navy Observatory for the following uses: 

-To time synchronized attacks
-To identify sidereal, Greenwich Mean Time, and local time
-To identify departure time, destination time, and local time

Best described by British Captain Shadwell, it is of particular use to apply three chronometers at once because '...two chronometers are of very little use when one malfunctions it cannot be determined which one it is whereas with three chronometers, if one malfunctions, the other two still show the same correct time.'

In 1917, the US Navy purchased four chronometer watches from Patek Philippe with consecutive numbers 170414, '415, '416, and '417. Each piece was presented by Patek Philippe to the Geneva Observatory contest in 1913, all achieving exemplary status and were adjusted by legendary timers, the highest paid class of watchmakers, H. Lossier, C. Batifolier, and J. Golay-Audemars. Three pieces with the highest scores were selected into this trio, 170414, '416, and 417, and No. 170415 was excluded, with the lowest score of 217.7. This piece was likely used for other US Navy Observatory purposes.

Before this set of Torpedo Boat Watches made their way to the USS Los Angeles, or what the Navy called the ZR-3, it is likely that US Navy Observatory personnel used them on different astronomical observation expeditions, and other US Navy projects in which accurate time in three isolated time frames was essential. 

This trio of watches ranks amongst the finest group of precision watches ever assembled and preserved. There are very few Navigator's Trios known today, and fewer still known to have been used on zeppelins, the world's largest flying machine, and a major asset of the field of aviation.