Phillips, Geneva, November 7 2015
Sold for: CHF 3,301,000
Anyone stepping into the rarefied world of vintage Patek Philippe collecting might find it odd, to say the least, that the maker’s stainless steel watches often fetch far higher sums than their gold equivalents. But those in the know understand that high-level Patek collectors will pay through the nose to own something that only a handful of other people (or preferably no-one) is likely to be able to buy.
Which goes some way to explaining why this 1945 reference 1463 cruised past its CHF 3 million high estimate when it came under the hammer of the indomitable Aurel Bacs at the second Geneva sale to be staged by the then-recently established Phillips watch department.
As the comprehensive catalogue note explained, the majority of complicated vintage Pateks were cased in gold, meaning steel examples are rarer and, therefore, often more collectable – a case in point being this 1436 which was one of two steel cased versions known to exist. (Interestingly, a third was made and supplied to an Italian retailer in 1942, but remained on his shelves for eight years until he had it re-cased in yellow gold in the hope of making it more saleable).
Case material notwithstanding, the 1463 is one of Patek’s most desirable watches simply because it was one of just two split chronograph references produced by the firm over a period of many decades – and this particular example of the model was also in superb, original condition. Its silvered dial showed no more than very light patina, its blued steel chronograph hands appeared pristine and microscopic examination is said to have suggested that the case had been polished but once in its entire, 65-year life. The movement, meanwhile, also had the appearance of remaining untouched since the watch was originally completed.
In summary: Another stellar Patek from Aurel Bacs. When the only other known example hasn’t seen the light of day since 1994, it becomes plain why the Phillips watch made such a mighty sum.