The Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: XI, in May this year will feature four rare Patek Philippe wristwatches from the private collection of industry titan Jean-Claude Biver. The Non-Executive President of LVMH Group’s Watch Division is member of the Advisory Board of the auction house.
A marketing genius, Biver is today considered one of the most influential people in the watch industry. He is credited with the revival of Blancpain as a haute horology brand, he is the man behind Omega’s association with James Bond, he turned Hublot into a successful company. Along the way, he also assembled a formidable collection of timepieces.
“When I was at Audemars Piguet I wanted to buy Patek Philippe, when I couldn’t, I started collecting their watches,” he once famously remarked. The auction will be held at Hôtel la Reserve in May this year. The four Patek Philippe timepieces, according to Phillips, are all historically-significant, rare, and in excellent condition.
Ref. 96HU Worldtime from 1937
In a manner of speaking, Patek Philippe “owns” the worldtime complication just like it does the perpetual calendar chronograph. They produced some of the most famous examples of these two complications. The company presented its first world time wristwatch created in series, the Ref. 1415, in 1939. However, Ref. 96 is a rare pre-series prototype made in 1937 to most probably test the market. It first appeared on the vintage market in 2011 and was quickly snapped by Biver. The only other known example of this reference is at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.
Estimate: CHF300,000 – 600,000
Pink gold Ref. 1518 with a pink dial from 1948
Ref. 1518 is a historical significant reference for collectors and scholars because it was the first perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch ever produced in series. First introduced in 1941, only 281 examples were manufactured with a majority made in yellow gold. Most pink gold examples sported silvered dials so to spot one with a pink dial is a rarity; only 13 examples are known with a pink dial. The present watch appears on the market only for the second time.
Estimate: CHF1,200,000 – 2,400,000
Ref. 2499 second series from 1957
Considered one of the greatest wristwatches every made, Ref. 2499 replaced the Ref. 1518 in 1951. Only 349 pieces were made over a 35 year period in four series. The second series like the present watch, was offered either with Arabic numerals or applied batons as well as with a tachymeter scale. The second series reference 2499 is so rare that very few examples have graced the international auction market, and in fact only 20 examples in yellow gold with applied batons, like the present example, are known.
Estimate: CHF 1,000,000 – 2,000,000
A platinum Ref. 1579 from 1946
This timepiece is said to be one of only three vintage Patek chronographs cased in platinum. It is not known why only three made in platinum but all three watches have consecutive serial numbers and different dials, making each piece unique. The present watch is the last of the three made and differentiates itself from the other two with its scale and markers in blue.
Estimate CHF 800,000 – 1,600,000