Eric Clapton Selling His Ultra-Rare Platinum Patek Philippe Ref 2499


***Editor’s Update, November 12, 2012:  Post-auction prices added!  The Clapton Patek came in just above the mid-point estimate, which is probably a slight disappointment to some but expected by others.  The platinum J.B. Champion which carried the same pre-auction estimate fetched just over $4 million ($4.012 million).  Though the J.B. Champion Patek lacks the rock musician cachet of Clapton’s 2499/100, it does have one distinguishing element that very understandably justifies its higher value (among other reasons) — it is a one-of-a-kind piece.

Rock legend Eric Clapton is selling one of the finest of his watches, an ultra rare platinum-cased Patek Philippe (reference 2499/100P) Perpetual Calendar Chronograph.   Watch fans — this is BIG, and let me tell you why:  aside from the obvious fact that the watch is from the private collection of famous musician and Patek collector Eric Clapton, this Patek 2499 watch is one of only two ever made in platinumNot only is it one of only two ever made, but Clapton’s Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 in platinum is the only one in private hands.  This is quite possibly the holy grail of holy grails for the world’s Patek collectors — and of course you are seeing it here at Perpetuelle first.

That makes the sale of this watch on November 12, 2012, at the Four Seasons hotel in Geneva one of those rare moments of horological history in the making.  This watch could fetch more than $4.25 million.  I’ve got all the details, including a look at the historical significance of this 2499, on the jump…

Spectacular is the first word which comes to mind to describe the only platinum cased Patek Philippe reference 2499  made available to a collector.  The official Christie’s estimate for Clapton’s Patek is 2.5 million – 4.0 million Swiss francs, or about $2.6 million to $4.25 million at current exchange rates.   A rose gold version of the same watch sold at auction earlier this year for $2.8 million.

Manufactured in 1987 — Cal. 13”’ mechanical movement stamped twice with the Geneva seal, 23 jewels, silvered matte dial, applied gold baton and square numerals, gold dauphine hands, outer Arabic five minute divisions, windows for day and month, three subsidiary dials for constant seconds, 30 minutes register and moon phases with date, circular case, stepped downturned lugs, snap on back, platinum Patek Philippe buckle, case, dial and movement signedProvenance aside, it goes without saying that this legendary model displays the most perfect combination of design, functions, mechanical complexity and case proportions.

Known fans as Slowhand, Clapton is a renowned watch collector and once released a greatest hits album called Timepieces

The Significance of the Patek Philippe Ref 2499

Launched in 1951, the Patek Philippe Ref 2499 was in production for nearly 35 years, during which a total of 349 watches were made.   It is, by the standards of many Patek collectors, the quintessential reference from Patek Philippe.  That only about 10 per year were made until 1986 is not particularly surprising, but when you  consider that almost all of them were cased in yellow gold, one starts to wonder about the rarer, non-yellow gold pieces that were made.  Some — but not many — of the Ref 2499’s were cased in rose gold.  Christie’s estimates the total number or rose gold cases just 10, which seems about right as we also know that just four of them have appeared at auction over the years — the last one of which sold for  a cool $2.7 million.  No 2499’s were ever cased in white gold, for reasons unknown.

In 1987, a year after official production had ceased, Patek’s Philippe Stern had two of the remaining 2499 movements cased in platinum.  Fate would eventually bring one of these two platinum 2499’s into the hands of Eric Clapton.  But there was a road still to be travelled.

You see, the only two examples of the Ref. 2499 ever cased in platinum were most likely never intended for sale.  Rather they were destined for the private collection of Patek Philippe, to be put on display at its Geneva museum.  Most likely, they were requested by Mr. Philippe Stern for himself as the final and crowning edition to celebrate the 35 year long run of the firm’s so far most iconic complicated model ever made.

Exactly how or why Stern decided to sell one of the platinum 2499’s is not clear — but that is exactly what he did just a couple of years later, consigning one of the watches to the  historical “The Art of Patek Philippe” auction, held in Geneva on April 9, 1989.  Fascinatingly, the archives of Patek Philippe list the date of sale of the present watch as April 7, 1989, the Friday prior to the auction which was held on a Sunday.  Furthermore, the cataloguing and footnote at the time clearly state that only two examples of this reference were ever made in platinum and that the watch comes directly from Patek Philippe’s own museum.

And thus the first of only two platinum Patek 2499’s ever made went into the hands of a prominent (though unknown) European Patek collector in April 1989 for a hefty SFr. 418,000.  After again changing hands during the latter half of the 1990s (to another of Europe’s most important private watch collectors), this very same platinum Ref 2499 would eventually find its way into the hands of rock star Eric Clapton.  As for the the “other” platinum Patek Ref 2499, well, it is still sitting, peacefully and out of the limelight, in the Patek Philippe museum in Geneva.

Which brings us to today.  With a provenance as legendary and as well documented as it gets, THE platinum Patek 2499 will go up for auction on November 12, 2012 in Geneva Switzerland.  Christie’s Aurel Bacs will wield the hammer — this is sure to be one of the greatest moments in watch collecting history.


37.5mm platinum case, Ref. 2499/100, Movement No. 869’308, Case NO. 2’817’876, Manufactured in 1987


Now as I said above, Christie’s be will throwing down the hammer on this watch on November 12, from the Four Seasons hotel in Geneva at an auction that is expected to raise a total of over $16 million.  Clapton’s Patek Philippe 2499 in platinum is undoubtedly the most prized lot of the sale, though it must also be said that two other historically important — and platinum cased — Patek Philippe watches in the sale include a unique 30mm platinum wristwatch (ref. 2458), specially made in 1952 for the collector J.B. and a platinum chronograph wristwatch with rare facetted lugs (ref. 1579) manufactured in 1946.  The platinum Patek ref. 2458 itself is expected to fetch 2-4 million Swiss francs, a value similar to the Clapton 2499, the Ref 1579 1-1.5 million Swiss francs).

Stay tuned in on November 12th — I’ll be back then with the closing details on this epic sale.