An 18-karat gold Patek Philippe watch once owned by King Farouk, the penultimate King of Egypt and Sudan, was sold for $912,000 by Christie’s as part of their Important Watches auction in Dubai today.
A much sought-after Patek Philippe, the Ref. 1518 was expected to surpass the record for the most expensive wristwatch ever sold in the Middle East, which was also a Patek Philippe, a Ref. 2499/100 that was sold by the same auction house last year.
The Ref. 1518 has a special place in the pantheon of horology. It is the first perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch produced in series by any watch company. First unveiled in 1941 at the Swiss Watch Fair Basel (now known as Baselworld), this perpetual calendar chronograph was a show of strength from the Swiss brand amidst a very turbulent time in Europe.
It combines a perpetual calendar and a chronograph - a mark of technical ingenuity that very few watchmakers have mastered, no other brand has the kind of history (or success) that Patek has had in selling them.
Ref. 1518 is historically important in the sense that it would set the template for all perpetual calendar chronographs that Patek Philippe would produce from there on. The 1518 was succeeded by Ref. 2499 in 1950. This was followed by the 3970, 5970 and the present day 5270 but the 1518 remains the absolute big daddy of Patek’s perpetual calendar line-up.
Understandably, Ref. 1518 is a much sought-after timepiece in the vintage market. It is believed that Patek Philippe only made 281 of them – while the majority were in yellow gold, 55 were made in rose gold and there are only four known examples in stainless steel. In November 2016, a stainless steel Ref. 1518 was sold for $11.1 million (including buyer’s premium) at a Phillips auction in Geneva.
King Farouk ruled Egypt from 1936 to 1952 before he was overthrown in a military coup led by Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Abdel Nasser, both of whom would govern the country in the 1950s. King Farouk was known for his flamboyant lifestyle and was a real connoisseur of horology. Forced into exile in Monaco and Italy following the coup, the king died in Rome in 1965.
You can read our hands-on review of the watch here.