While much focus on the November watch auction scene will be on Christies’ November 12th sale, a sale in which, among other rarities, Eric Clapton’s platinum Patek Philippe Ref 2499 could fetch upwards of $4 million, did you know that there is another Patek Ref 2499 that will sell this month? Yes indeed, on November 19th at The Mandarin Oriental Geneva Antiquorum will sell the yellow gold Ref 2499 you see here. While it is safe to say that most Perpetuelle readers are well versed in the significance of the Patek Philippe Ref 2499 series — a result of my extensive and well-informed writeup on the significance of the 2499 in my Clapton article — I’ll take the time to run down for you the merits of this particular 2499, including an explanation of why it is expected to fetch a hefty $200,000 – $300,000, but still a far cry from the $4 million of the Clapton 2499. All below.
First, a quick recap on the significance of the Patek Ref 2499. The 2499 was launched in 1951 and produced until 1985. Over this nearly 35 year period, a total of 349 watches were made, or about 10 per year — mostly in yellow gold, some in rose gold, none in white gold. And of course the 2 platinum models commissioned by Philippe Stern himself. Actually as to a white gold 2499: I have conflicting information. Christies says none were ever cased in white gold, Antiquorum says “some”. While I have submitted inquiries submitted to both auction houses to clarify, this matter is irrelevant for purposes of today’s review. The bottom line is that the Ref 2499 is, by the standards of many Patek collectors, the quintessential reference from Patek Philippe. Read my earlier writeup for insights on how the two platinum references came to be.
So as for this yellow gold 2499 soon to be offered by Antiquorum, you have what is for all practical purposes a very rare watch, one of the most desirous for Patek collectors. It was produced in 1984, which makes it one of the last few examples of the 2499 ever made. Add to this the fact that this particular 2499 has never been offered at auction until now and that it is in exceptional condition (case: very good, dial/hands: original and like new, movement: exceptional) and you can see how this watch could reasonably be estimated to fetch $200k – $300k. Perhaps more, if you ask me.
How about that dial?!
A bit more on the 2499: From 1978 to circa 1985, the Ref 2499 technically becomes the Ref. 2499/100. This is what experts consider the “fourth (and last) series” of the 2499 production. As compared to first and second series 2499s (1951-1960) , and to a lesser extent third series (1960-1978), pieces of the fourth series featured round buttons, dauphine hands and applied baton indexes. First and second series had square buttons, feuille hands (more slender and curvy vs. the pointy angular styled dauphine hands) and applied Arabic numerals (vs. baton indexes). Some examples, though very few, were even made with tachometer or telemeter scale. And three pieces only with sapphire crystal back. For this fourth series, models with the tachometer indication are extremely rare. And only one example is known with a black dial.
A Tale of 2 Patek Ref 2499s
Somewhat ironically, it was Antiquorum who sold the now famous “Eric Clapton” platinum 2499 in Geneva on April 9, 1989 at “The Art of Patek Philippe” for $253,300. Although it was not sold to Clapton at this time, but rather another prominent European collector. Although even on point of irony there is perhaps an unclear history — did the platinum 2499 ever make the auction block? Again Antiquorum says yes, but Christie’s says that the papered sale date on the piece in 1989 was actually April 7 — the last working day prior to the auction which was held on a Sunday. Fascinating, eh? But again these are subtleties which are largely a matter of importance only to the insiders.
But this does bring me to my last point, which is a quick side-by-side of the Eric Clapton platinum 2499 and the yellow gold 2499 here.
One last thing. I just finished reading Antiquorum’s catalogue for its November 19th auction — of “Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces” — and I can say that there are quite a number of great watches that will hit the block. Not all of them are million dollar Patek’s, but there are some very neat and superb watches and fantastic collector’s pieces — all of which will sell for great sums. In fact there are 613 lots in all at the sale, a mix of outstanding modern and vintage timepieces. I intend to highlight several of my favorites in coming weeks. Stay tuned!