An extremely rare watch featuring a prized black dial leads an exceptional selection of Patek Philippe timepieces in Heritage Auctions
' Watches & Fine Timepieces Auction Dec. 8.
"Patek Philippe always has been the highest name in terms of desirability in the collector's market, Heritage Auctions Watches & Fine Timepieces Director Jim Wolf said. "Even in a year in which it can be challenging to get top fresh-to-market material, Heritage is known as the auction house that has consistently been able to bring in top watches. Our June auction brought in more than $5 million, and the extraordinary pieces that have been consigned for this sale indicate more of the same.
A Patek Philippe, Extremely Rare and Fine Ref. 2499 with Confirmed Special Ordered Black Dial, 3rd Series, Ed. Wenger SA Case, Manufactured in 1976 (starting bid: $350,000) is one of the most unique and thrilling incarnations of the Patek Philippe 2499.
This model served as the next step in the evolution of the 1518 from its debut in 1951 to its retirement in 1985. Only 349 were released during those years or about 10 per year making this reference one of the most exclusive in the history of the brand.
This magnificent piece, which is already close to surpassing its pre-auction estimate, is coming to auction for the first time. Eric Clapton, a renowned collector of watches, acquired it somewhere around 2003. The legendary guitarist held on to it for about a decade before selling it in a private treaty to the current owner.
The demand increases significantly because of the highly desirable black dial that was added in the mid-1980s along with sapphire crystal, history that is confirmed in a pair of Extracts. The first, issued in August 2000, notes a "special dial" and is signed by Clapton, who signed the document when he sold it to the consignor. The second certificate, executed in 2020, further specifies the "Type of dial" as "Black dial, yellow gold indexes" and with a "remark: "Following the original sale of the timepiece indicated above, the dial was returned and replaced by the above in one of our workshops.
The result is an extraordinary timepiece, a towering achievement of horology that will identify the most cultured and determined collector of the brand within the Heritage clientele through competition for its ownership.
"It's got everything you would want as far as provenance associated with the watch, Wolf said. "Even though it was not born with the black dial, was changed at Patek Philippe by the owner's request in the 1980s. Only a handful made with black dial in the 1970s, in the '80s there was a small number that Patek Philippe changed from the original silver to the black dial for the most special customers of Patek Philippe.
Seven of the top 10 lots in the auction are Patek Philippe watches. Other top Patek Philippe lots in the auction include, but are not limited to:
A Patek Philippe, Very Fine and Rare Ref. 5270P, Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, Salmon Dial, circa 2019 (starting bid: $120,000) a modern but spectacularly complicated watch that is offered in always-desirable platinum.
A Patek Philippe, Very Fine and Rare Ref. 1463J, Waterproof Chronograph, 18k Yellow Gold, Manual Wind, Circa 1963 (starting bid: $120,000), with an 18K gold case, a silver dial with applied gold baton hour markers, subsidiary dials for seconds and 30 minute counter, signed Patek Philippe on case, dial, movement.
Patek Philippe, Very Fine Ref. 3971E, 2nd Series, Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, 18k Gold, circa 1989 (starting bid: $55,000), with an opaline silvered dial, applied yellow gold indexes, 30-minute register, perpetual calendar with moon phases; signed Patek Philippe on the case, dial, movement, band and buckle
Patek Philippe, Very Fine and Unworn Ref. 5170G, Pulsation's Dial, Manufacture Single Sealed, circa 2014 (starting bid: $35,000), with a silver dial, with Breguet Arabic hour markers, subsidiary dials for running seconds and 30-minute counter, silver baton hands; signed Patek Philippe on case, dial, movement.
Patek Philippe, Rare and Original Owner Ref. 3417 "Amagnetic, Stainless Steel, circa 1961 (starting bid: $22,000) consigned by the original purchaser, who acquired it while traveling through Switzerland in his early 20s; wanting a memento from his trip, he bought it new for $200. The offered lot is accompanied by an Extract from the Archives confirming a 1961 manufacture date and Aug. 16, 1961 as the date of sale.
The auction does, of course, include extraordinary timepieces from other watchmakers, including a Vacheron Constantin, Very Rare and Fine Ref. 4072 Chronograph Retailed by Turler, Variant 2 Dial, From the Vacheron Constantin "Les Collectionneurs" Collection, circa 1942 (starting bid: $25,000) is one of the watches that the manufacturer takes back to the factory, where it is completely restored to the condition that would have been evident when it was purchased new. In other words, the winning bidder will effectively be getting a 78-year-old watch that looks like it was made yesterday. In just 22 years after providing its first wrist-worn time recorder, Vacheron Constantin brought to market the chronograph wristwatch that was in its offerings for the next 30 years and became an icon among astute Vacheron Constantin collectors, Ref. 4072.
A Tornek-Rayville, Very Rare Ref. TR-900, U.S Marine Diver Issued, Serial #0862, circa 1966 (starting bid: $50,000) is an extremely rare piece coming to auction for first time and consigned by its original owner.
A Rolex, Ref. 6263 "Fuerza Aerea del Peru Oyster Cosmograph, Stainless Steel, circa 1974 (starting bid: $40,000) is a prized model with a silver dial, black subsidiary dials for running seconds, and minute/hour counters, applied baton hour markers, luminous baton hands; signed Rolex on case, dial, movement.
A Cartier, Very Rare and Desirable Crash, 1991 Limited Edition 326/400, 18k Gold, circa 1991 (starting bid: $30,000) includes a silver dial, with painted roman numeral hour markers, blued baton hands; signed Cartier on case, dial, movement.
A Rolex, Ref. 1803 Gifted by Lyndon B Johnson Family to Lawrence J Klein; caretaker of the "Western White House" LBJ Ranch, 18k Gold Day Date, circa 1968 (starting bid: $8,000) was given by the 36th U.S. president to Lawrence J. Klein, caretaker of the "Western White House. It was made the same year, 1968, that LBJ declined to run for another term in office. It has been suggested that the "President" moniker assigned to the gold Rolex Day-Date saw its genesis in a presentation of the brand's 150,000th chronometer to Dwight D. Eisenhower, but it was Johnson who made the format a constant companion. In 1966, the unspoken partnership was officially consummated when Rolex produced an advertisement of the handsome timepiece on the wrist of an arm gripping a red telephone beneath bold text that read, "The president's watch."
Other top lots include, but are not limited to:
A Patek Philippe, Very Fine Ref. 5235G, Annual Calendar "Regulator" Display, circa 2015 (starting bid: $18,500)
A Patek Philippe, Very Fine and Desirable Ref. 3940J First Series, 18k Gold, Perpetual Calendar, circa 1986 (starting bid: $17,500)
A Rolex, Ref. 6263 Oyster Cosmograph, Sigma Dial, Stainless Steel, circa 1973 (starting bid: $16,500)
An Audemars Piguet, Very Fine Royal Oak 18k Gold Automatic, Ref. 14700 BA, circa 1980s (starting bid: $16,000)