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Rémi Guillemin of Christie’s traces the Patek Philippe Ref­er­ence 2499 at auc­tion.

As one of the most de­sir­able time­pieces in the in­dus­try, Patek Philippe’s per­pet­ual cal­en­dar chrono­graphs have through­out the years been per­ceived as firm fa­vorites of the most as­tute col­lec­tors. With a rich her­itage orig­i­nat­ing from 1941 with the Ref­er­ence 1518, the first per­pet­ual cal­en­dar chrono­graph pro­duced in se­ries by any maker, the fam­ily has been widely rec­og­nized as the sig­na­ture watches of Patek Philippe, in­cor­po­rat­ing some of the most cel­e­brated ref­er­ences of the pres­ti­gious Swiss man­u­fac­ture. With an on­go­ing 77-year pro­duc­tion pe­riod, Patek Philippe’s per­pet­ual cal­en­dar chrono­graphs ben­e­fited from tech­ni­cal en­hance­ments as well as di­verg­ing case and dial de­signs, while stay­ing true to their ori­gin and highly rec­og­niz­able aes­thet­ics. Ref­er­ence 2499, suc­ces­sor of the cel­e­brated Ref­er­ence 1518, en­coun­tered un­par­al­leled suc­cess among elite col­lec­tors and was fol­lowed by the 3970 in 1989. The Ref­er­ence 5970 was then in pro­duc­tion from 2004 un­til 2010; the youngest heir, Ref­er­ence 5270, is still in pro­duc­tion to­day.

Through its re­strained avail­abil­ity, ex­am­ples of Ref­er­ence 2499 have per­formed ex­tremely well at auc­tion, with highly scru­ti­nized re­sults point­ing to­ward an in­crease in value over the years.

Ref­er­ence 2499 was pro­duced from 1950 to 1985 and is widely ac­knowl­edged as one of the world’s great­est wrist­watches. With time­less aes­thet­ics, the time­piece was made dif­fer­ent from its pre­de­ces­sors through its larger di­am­e­ter and tell­tale ridged lugs. Al­ly­ing a per­pet­ual cal­en­dar, chrono­graph and moon-phase dis­play, the ref­er­ence has ex­erted a strong in­flu­ence on some of the most renowned watch­mak­ers and left an un­par­al­leled mark in the world of Patek Philippe watch col­lect­ing. Pro­duced over 35 years at an av­er­age rate of nine ex­am­ples per year, for a to­tal pro­duc­tion, ac­cord­ing to lit­er­a­ture, of 349 pieces, the model can be di­vided in four se­ries, the ma­jor­ity cased in yel­low gold.

First Se­ries: Dis­tin­guished by Square Chrono­graph But­tons, Ap­plied Ara­bic Nu­mer­als and Tachymeter Scale

The first se­ries of the 2499 was avail­able un­til 1960 and is con­sid­ered par­tic­u­larly col­lectible due to its ex­tremely scarce pro­duc­tion, es­ti­mated at less than four dozen. With a case fea­tur­ing highly rec­og­niz­able square chrono­graph push­ers, the time­piece can be con­sid­ered a tran­si­tional se­ries, as it was the only one to fea­ture this trait, rem­i­nis­cent of the Ref­er­ence 1518.

Best known in yel­low gold, with an ex­tremely scarce amount of rose-gold ex­am­ples hav­ing resur­faced at auc­tion, the first se­ries is re­garded as a par­tic­u­larly large watch for its time, fea­tur­ing carved lugs per­fectly in­te­grated with the case de­sign. rough­out its pro­duc­tion, the first se­ries of the 2499 can be sep­a­rated in two, with the first ex­am­ples as­sem­bled with cases made by Vichet with a di­am­e­ter of 36.2 mm and fea­tur­ing a flat case­back as well as more rounded lugs. From 1954, cases were made by Wenger and were pro­duced with a rounded case­back and heav­ier, more par­al­lel lugs. e case was now a more im­pact­ful 37.8 mm in di­am­e­ter.

Sec­ond Se­ries: Round Chrono­graph Push­ers, Ei­ther Ap­plied Ba­ton or Ap­plied Ara­bic Nu­mer­als and Tachymeter Scale

Beau­ti­fully com­bin­ing com­pli­ca­tions, rar­ity and wear­a­bil­ity, the sec­ond se­ries of the Ref­er­ence 2499 fea­tured a 37-mm case high­lighted by round chrono­graph push­ers. Highly praised by col­lec­tors, the dial of this se­ries also dis­plays a tachymeter scale, which is exclusive to the first and sec­ond se­ries, sig­na­tures and

scales printed in raised hard enamel. is tech­nique was used on di­als of the ref­er­ence only dur­ing the first 20 years of pro­duc­tion, pro­vid­ing them with a highly at­trac­tive vin­tage feel of­ten re­served to watches of the 1950s.

ird Se­ries: Round Chrono­graph Push­ers, Ap­plied Ba­ton Nu­mer­als, Outer Sec­onds Di­vi­sions

e third se­ries of the 2499 ref­er­ence is the first of the se­ries omit­ting the tachymeter scale. e case size was slightly re­duced in com­par­i­son to its pre­de­ces­sors but kept the iconic de­sign of the orig­i­nal mod­els. It was pro­duced at a higher scale than its coun­ter­parts and sold un­til 1978, the ma­jor­ity cased in yel­low gold, fewer in rose gold and a hand­ful in white gold.

Fourth Se­ries: Round Chrono­graph Push­ers, Ap­plied Ba­ton Nu­mer­als, Outer Sec­onds Di­vi­sions and Sap­phire Crys­tal

e fourth se­ries of the 2499 was launched fol­low­ing the end of pro­duc­tion of the third se­ries in 1978 and was pro­duced un­til 1985. It dif­fered from the third se­ries through its sap­phire crys­tal. Same as the third se­ries, the ma­jor­ity were cased in yel­low gold, with ex­am­ples in rose gold and fewer in white gold. From this pro­duc­tion, two ex­am­ples are known with plat­inum cases, one of which sold at Christie’s from the col­lec­tion of Eric Clap­ton in 2012 for 3,443,000 CHF (ap­prox­i­mately $3,635,808).

Fi­nal oughts

An ex­tremely rare and cov­eted ref­er­ence, the 2499 is a true guardian of Patek Philippe’s iden­tity. rough­out the years, its con­tem­po­rary size, time­less de­sign and rar­ity have ren­dered it one of the most cov­eted watches at auc­tion and a watch of para­mount im­por­tance for col­lec­tors of mod­ern and vin­tage alike.

Pre­dom­i­nant at watch auc­tions world­wide, the 2499 has al­ways been ac­tively ob­served by col­lec­tors. By com­par­ing re­sults of ex­am­ples of the third se­ries in yel­low gold, it is no­tice­able through the anal­y­sis of the graph at right that the rar­i­fied na­ture of the model and strong in­ter­est from col­lec­tors re­sulted in a grad­ual growth in value. In or­der to en­able a com­par­i­son in re­sults, sim­i­lar time­pieces were cho­sen within the se­ries of the ref­er­ence with the high­est num­ber of sell­ing prices. e com­par­i­son there­fore fo­cused on ex­am­ples of the third se­ries and ex­cluded ex­am­ples with spe­cial at­tributes, such as the 2499 third se­ries in yel­low gold re­tailed by Cartier and sold by Christie’s in 2013 for 941,000 CHF, or ex­am­ples with cases other than yel­low gold. With a mar­ket al­ways driven by con­di­tion, qual­ity ex­am­ples have proven to per­form very well in the past decade with strong re­sults oc­cur­ring past 2010. With a me­dian of CHF 353,000, the graph high­lights an in­crease in value, which can be ex­plained by the in­creas­ing knowl­edge of col­lec­tors and their fo­cus to ac­quire time­pieces of the high­est rar­ity and qual­ity. With the grow­ing reach of in­ter­na­tional auc­tions and num­ber of time­pieces dis­cov­ered, the fu­ture of the 2499 should prove to be bright as more col­lec­tors join the mar­ket and com­pete for such an iconic and rar­i­fied ref­er­ence.

Christie’s Geneva, May 14, 2012 – Lot 88 Sale 1388, sold for 2,547,000 CHF

Christie’s Geneva, May 16, 2016 – Lot 174 Sale 1413, sold for 965,000 CHF Christie’s Geneva, Novem­ber 14, 2016 – Lot 128 Sale 1417, sold for 427,500 CHF Christie’s New York, June 21, 2017 – Lot 80 Sale 14846, sold for 427,500 CHF

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