Titanium Watches. Sotheby’s New York auction of Important Watches on 10 June 2014 will offer a remarkable selection of wristwatches by Patek Philippe from a visionary private collection, featuring a groundbreaking group of five pieces commissioned in titanium. The collection is led by the Ref 5001T Sky Moon Tourbillon, a previously undocumented reference and the only known example of Patek Philippe’s coveted Sky Moon Tourbillon in titanium (est. $1/1.5 million*), as well as the legendary 1923 Officier, the first split-seconds chronograph wristwatch produced by the firm (est. $800,000/1.2 million).
The collection includes additional references by Patek Philippe that have remained unknown to collectors, as well as unique pieces incorporating rare materials and designs beyond titanium. Together estimated at more than $3 million, the 12 wristwatches will travel to Geneva this May before returning to Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries for exhibition beginning 6 June.
Daryn Schnipper, Chairman of Sotheby’s Watch & Clock Department, commented: “When first learning about this collection, it was almost impossible to conceive of so many important yet unknown pieces from Patek Philippe. The five titanium watches are an absolute revelation. The superior metal makes each of the watches the best version of itself, highlighting the complications while also making the pieces eminently wearable – the experience of picking up and feeling how light they are is incredible. This group is a testament to the influence and ultimate connoisseurship of its collector, who had the foresight to customize these references in discreet yet significant ways. It is a true privilege to offer these watches at auction in June.”
UNKNOWN PATEK PHILIPPE REFERENCES:
Patek Philippe’s iconic Ref 5002 Sky Moon Tourbillon wristwatches – featuring a double dial inspired by the Henry Graves Supercomplication that sold at Sotheby’s in 1999 for the longstanding auction record price of $11 million – have long been prized among collectors as a trophy timepiece. Potential purchasers would have to pass an interview with Philippe Stern, the firm’s Honorary President, before they were able to acquire one of the roughly ten examples crafted each year of its production run.
The present collection is led by a commissioned example of the Sky Moon Tourbillon in titanium, which was assigned a unique reference number that has remained unknown to collectors and horological experts outside of the firm: the Ref 5001T Sky Moon Tourbillon, a Magnificent and Unique Titanium Double Dialed Wristwatch with Twelve Complications including Tourbillon, Perpetual Calendar, Retrograde Date, Sky Chart, Moon-Phases, Orbit Display, Sidereal Time and Minute Repeating on Cathedral Gongs made circa 2002 (est. $1/1.5 million).
While the Ref 5002 was produced in yellow gold, pink gold, white gold and platinum, there has been no public documentation until now of a Sky Moon Tourbillon in titanium – a metal which makes the model lighter and more wearable. The watch is distinguished further by its basket weave motif, repeated on the bezel and the dial where the standard Sky Moon Tourbillon normally features the firm’s signature Calatrava crosses, as well as unabbreviated cardinal points on the star chart.
Similarly, the Ref 5104 Minute Repeater is a celebrated model for Patek Philippe, but the present collection offers a special order version that was assigned a unique reference number that also has remained undocumented to the public until now: the Ref 5103P, an Extremely Fine and Unique Platinum Automatic Minute Repeating Semi-Skeletonized Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch with Retrograde Date, Moon Phases and Leap Year Indication made in 2004 (est. $500/700,000). While the Ref 5104 was produced mainly in a combination of pink gold and platinum, the present all-platinum Ref 5103P is distinguished further by the bespoke engraving on its
movement plates – not found on any other known example – as well as a unique teardrop pattern on its side.
A Vintage Icon:
The one vintage wristwatch on offer from the collection happens to be one of the most important wristwatches produced by Patek Philippe: the storied 1923 Officier, an Extremely Rare and Important Yellow Gold Single Button Split-Seconds Chronograph Wristwatch with Enamel Dial originally sold on 13 October 1923 (est. $800,000/1.2 million). The earliest split-seconds chronograph produced by the firm, this watch redefined scholarship on Patek Philippe when it last sold at auction in 1999 – setting an auction record for any wristwatch at the time – by proving that the firm had created a split-seconds chronograph years before what had been known. This unique wristwatch is distinguished further as the only split-seconds chronograph by Patek Philippe to feature a white enamel dial.
UNIQUE TITANIUM COMMISSIONS:
Titanium is highly resistant to corrosion, can be polished to a rich luster, and does not tarnish at room temperature. Despite its many advantages as a metal, its application in the wristwatch is rare and almost unheard of in the production of Patek Philippe – until now, there were only four known watches in titanium by the firm. Each of the five titanium pieces emerging from the present collection pre-dates those examples.
In addition to the Ref 5001T, highlights of the previouslyunknown titanium wristwatches by Patek Philippe include: the ef 5033T, an Important and Unique Titanium Automatic Annual Calendar Minute Repeating Wristwatch made in 2003 (right, est. $400/600,000), and the Ref 5102T Celestial, an Important and Unique Titanium Automatic Astronomical Wristwatch with Sky Chart, Phases and Position of the Moon and Time of Meridian Passage of Sirius and the Moon, made in 2003 (est. $200/300,000). No example of either reference has been recorded publicly in this metal.