Property from the Family of the Original Owner
Reference 1518 | A pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases, Made in 1946
June 9, 05:37 PM GMT
2,500,000 - 4,500,000 USD
A pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases, Made in 1946
Dial: pink, French calendar
Caliber: cal. 13"' mechanical, 23 jewels
Movement number: 863'794
Case: 18k pink gold, snap on case back
Case number: 644'119
Closure: 18k pink gold Gay Frères bracelet with clasp
Size: 35 mm diameter
Signed: case, dial and movement
Accessories: Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming the date of sale on July 9, 1947
Patek Philippe's entire lineage of perpetual calendar chronographs starts with the reference 1518. Launched in 1941, at the height of World War II, at the Swiss Watch Fair in Basel, it was a technical revelation and an aesthetic masterpiece that set the design language for all the subsequent references up to today's Reference 5270. The reference was not only Patek Philippe's first serially produced perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch but also the first of its kind from any brand, earning the reference its well-deserved place in horological history and setting the standard of haute horology for the decades to come. In fact, Patek Philippe was so advanced in this regard that it wasn't until the 1980s that another major manufacturer serially produced a perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases.
In accordance with period tastes, Patek Philippe cased the majority of the 281 total examples of the reference in yellow gold, while only 58 examples are believed to have been cased in pink gold (with between 4 and 8 produced in steel). Out of these 58 pink gold examples, only a very small number were configured like the current one. When cased in pink gold, the reference was most commonly fitted with silvered dials, with only a select few featuring matching salmon pink gold dials. The end result of this subtle adjustment is a warm and attractive aesthetic that is unique to this variant. To date, only 14 of these 'pink on pink' examples are known to exist, and the current watch is the 15th known.
There are several other subtle but important factors that make this an exciting discovery. Around 1948, in the middle of the production run of the reference 1518, Patek Philippe changed the dial signature on all of their watches from long (Patek Philippe & Co) to short (Patek Philippe). This particular example, produced in 1946 and sold on July 9th, 1947, is one of the later watches with the long signature. Research shows that less than half of the known 'pink on pink' examples (only 7 in total) featured this earlier, longer signature. This signature is also believed to be unique, with the text slightly compressed to fit neatly below the day/date apertures. Additionally, the current example features a 'French' calendar wheel, which is found in only 3 other long signature pink on pink reference 1518 watches.
The characterful pink gold Stern Frères-made dial has a warm and alluring copper tone, showing unique signs of patina and aging. All gold 1518 cases were crafted by the master casemaker, Emile Vichet (Key 9), and they are divided into two series. The current watch belongs to the second series (1946-1953), as indicated by its more tapered lugs, larger crown, and the lower position of the chronograph pushers. Given the date of production, the current example is believed to be among the first of the second series cases made. The case remains in remarkable condition, with all four lugs retaining their original proportions, featuring sharp angles and crisp drilled spring bar holes. The hallmarks are exceptionally sharp, crisp, and highly visible. Additionally, the case aligns with a series of known long signature 'Pink on Pink' cases.
644’113 – Fratini Collection
644’114 – Sold Christies Geneva 2012
644’115 – Fratini Collection
644’119 – The Current watch
644’120 – Fratini Collection
As expected, the significance and renown of the reference 1518 were not lost on collectors throughout history, with the world's most important collectors, including Henry Graves Jr. and Sugar Ray Robinson, owning this timepiece. The reference's association with royalty has also been well established, with owners including the former ruler of Romania, King Michael I, the King of Jordan, and Egypt's penultimate ruler, King Farouk I.
In addition to its objective rarity and exceptional condition, this watch was previously unknown. It had remained in the possession of the family of its original distinguished owner since its purchase in 1947 and was hidden in a drawer untouched for 30 years. To discover a previously unknown and undiscovered vintage watch with a single owner in this condition is the stuff of dreams for vintage Patek Philippe collectors—a 'holy grail' watch, so to speak.