Celebrating the refined craftsmanship and enchanting imagination by prestige watch brands, a sumptuous array of eclectic timepieces ranging from vintage pieces to independent watch creations will be staged in Sotheby’s 2015 autumn auction. An extremely rare Patek Philippe Ref 2523/1 world time wristwatch will be the highlight of the sale. With an Extract from the Archives confirming date of sale on 14 April 1975 and a presentation case.
The ingenious “Heure Universelle (World Time)” mechanism was invented by master watchmaker Louis Cottier (1894-1966) in 1931. Worked as an independent watchmaker, he specialized in watches without hands, jumping hour or other unusual display timepieces. By the end of WW2, his talent has already been well recognized and many of his work ended in famous pockets of historical important figures such as Harry Truman, Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, whose “Victory watch” was offered in Sotheby’s London September 2015 auction (see sale L15053 lot 75). As intercontinental travel grew in popularity, this mechanism allows travelers to be able to quickly and efficiently tell time when switching time zones. It was then widely implemented by Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Rolex, and many other famous watch manufacturers.
The Ref. 2523 world time wristwatch was launched in 1953 with the new two-crown system to replace the former Ref. 1415, a single crown model with its bezel engraved with cities to be switched manually. In 1957, Patek Philippe launched a derivative model Ref. 2523-1, while carrying the same mechanism as its predecessor, there are subtle differences in the design of its appearance. When viewed from profile, the lugs are no longer above the bezel and are slightly less raised with less prominent multi-faceted edges comparing to the Ref. 2523, giving it a more modern and sleek look.
According to research, only 20 examples of Ref. 2523-1 were ever produced, all cases were made by A. Gerlach and all dials were made with metal by Stern Frères. This particular example is in very good condition retaining a strong hallmark at 10am position, sharp outline and facets. It also benefits from a beautiful waved guilloché pattern dial, incredible definition of its rotating two-tone day-night 24-hour center dial and outer rotating silver dial with 41 cities. This watch is previously unknown to the public and has been kept in the private hands since it left the factory. This reference is considered one of the most stunning and iconic models that Patek Philippe has ever produced. The contemporary application of the “Heure Universelle (World Time)” movement can been seen on the well-acclaimed Ref. 5130 and Ref. 5131.