Christie’s, Geneva, May 14
Sold for CHF 250,000
A unique Patek Philippe represents a Holy Grail to almost any serious watch collector, so it’s hardly surprising that a “believed unique” Reference 2573 that cropped up at Christie’s New York in December 2015 should obliterate its modest, $10,000 – 15,000 estimate to finally sell for $437,000. Offered at auction for the first time since 1958, it was dubbed “The Pearl of Bahrain” and, at the time, was thought to have been the only Patek Philippe watch to feature natural seed pearls as hour markers.
A gift from Emir Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa I of Bahrain to an American advisor, it had remained in the same ownership from new and its appearance at auction was, by all accounts, never to be repeated.
But this latest Christie’s sale saw the appearance of a second “Pearl of Bahrain” – again a one-family-owned example, but perhaps even better than the previous one because it had never actually been worn.
It appears that both watches were commissioned on behalf of the Emir as gifts for services rendered, the second one going to the late British businessman John Eardley Allcard who had advised on the development of Bahrain’s infrastructure during the 1950s. Although undoubtedly not everyone’s cup of tea, these two Pateks really are remarkable both by dint of their flawless Bahraini pearl hour markers and the fact that the entire architecture of the watch was built around them, with an extra-high post to give clearance to the minute hand, a deeper bezel and a domed crystal.
Simon de Burton