A Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph from 1948 that belonged to industry legend Jean-Claude Biver was sold for CHF3,380,000 (Approx. $3.5 million or $13 million) at an auction in Geneva on the weekend. This was the highest price recorded for this particular reference. In total, the four Patek Philippe wristwatches that Biver consigned at the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: XI held on June 27-28 fetched a whopping CHF8,307,500 ($8.76 million).
A marketing genius, Biver is 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, and he turned Hublot into a flamboyant success. Along the way, he also assembled a formidable collection of timepieces. Biver, the Non-Executive President of LVMH Group’s Watch Division is member of the Advisory Board of Phillips.
The watch in question, the Patek Philippe 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 produced, with a majority 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 has appeared on the market only for the second time.
This Ref. 1518 was part of the four rare Patek wristwatches from Biver’s private collection that featured in the auction. Ref. 96HU World Time wristwatch, believed to be a rare pre-series prototype made in 1937, was sold for CHF387,500 (Approx. $408,806) on the same day. It first appeared on the vintage market in 2011 when Biver snapped it up. The only other known example of this reference is at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.
Another heavy hitter from Biver’s Patek collection that pulled in the big bucks on Sunday was a yellow gold Ref. 2499 perpetual calendar chronograph. Considered one of the greatest wristwatches every made, Ref. 2499 replaced the Ref. 1518 in 1951. Only 349 pieces were produced over a 35-year period in four series. The second series reference 2499 is so rare that very few examples have hit the international auction market, and in fact only 20 examples in yellow gold with applied batons, like the present example, are known. The watch fetched CHF2,600,000 ($2.74 million) at the auction on Sunday, June 28.
Another watch that breach the million-dollar figure was the platinum Ref. 1579 chronograph. This timepiece is said to be one of only three vintage Patek chronographs cased in platinum. It is unknown 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. This watch was hammered for CHF1,940,000 ($2.04 million).