Important Watches I
Important Watches I
Reference 866/73 | A unique yellow gold open face keyless watch with enamel miniature depicting Bacchus and Venus, painted by Helen May Mercier, Made in 1976 | 百達翡麗 | 型號866/73 | 獨一無二黃金懷錶，配 HELEN MAY MERCIER 繪製的巴克斯與維納斯微繪琺瑯，1976年製
October 7, 06:41 AM GMT
1,800,000 - 3,600,000 HKD
A unique yellow gold open face keyless watch with enamel miniature depicting Bacchus and Venus, painted by Helen May Mercier, Made in 1976
獨一無二黃金懷錶，配 HELEN MAY MERCIER 繪製的巴克斯與維納斯微繪琺瑯，1976年製
Calibre: 17'''170 mechanical, 18 jewels
Movement number: 932'671
Case: 18k pink gold and enamel
Case number: 433'688
Size: 47 mm diameter
Signed: case, dial and movement
Accessories: Patek Philippe presentation box. Furthermore delivered with Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1976 and its subsequent sale on 16th March 1978
Highly regarded as one of the greatest enamellers ever, Madame Hélène May-Mercier left another stunning piece of work on this unique yellow gold Patek Philippe open face watch made in 1976. Over the course of the late 20th century, Madame May-Mercier created around 20 unique miniature enamel works for Patek Philippe. The Reference 866 was introduced in the early 1970s as a pocket watch with a keyless lever mechanism. Around 150 of these watches with decorative elements were manufactured using this reference, with the last known pieces being produced in the 1990s.
The present example renders a hand-painted enamelling technique and is amongst one of the most complex enamel compositions. Multiple firings of the enamel are needed during the process, whilst requiring the artist to account for any potential color shifts and damages every time the enamel goes through the heating and cooling process. The number of hours it takes to produce such form of enamelling is strenuous as it could take up to a year to create an individual miniature enamel piece. Nonetheless, they yield tremendous value given the one-of-a-kind nature that every piece possess.
The enamelling on this present reference renders the essence of French painter Noël-Nicolas Coypel’s famous art piece Bacchus and Venus, circa 1726. Coypel was well-known for his mythological compositions over his career. According to Roman mythology, Bacchus was the god who presided over wine and inebriation. He had a short-lived affair with Venus, the goddess of love. Venus was later cursed by Hera, the wife of Zeus and the goddess of women and matrimony, with an ugly child named Priapos for her promiscuity. As presented, the interaction between the two protagonists in the artwork illustrates their relationship in a simple yet comprehensible manner. An intoxicated Bacchus extends his arm to welcome another cup of wine from a naked Venus. The theme of debauchery is vividly portrayed. Yet, the intricate details from the original painting are retained despite the laborious enamelling techniques required, not to mention the limited space of the back cover.
The present lot is truly the culmination of watchmaking incorporated with fine art. Patek Philippe once again demonstrates its pre-eminence through the present example.