A rare & exclusive Patek Philippe’s watch may fetch up to $4.5 million

Exquisitely rare, this Patek Philippe ‘Pink-on-Pink' vintage watch will be presented at Sotheby’s Important Watches auction in New York on June 9.

Patek Philippe 1518 reference watch Sotheby's

May 16, 2023: This coveted Patek Philippe ‘Pink-on-Pink'  reference 1518 watch’s parameters of singularity not only include rarity but also its highly unusual designs. This historically significant 1518, the very first Patek perpetual calendar chronograph, stands as a testament to its exclusivity, intricately crafted in a limited edition of 281 pieces. But not many know about this unusual ‘Pink-on-Pink' variant, which is considered as the “holy grail” for watch collectors. This extremely rare example is one of the 15 pieces known to exist. 

Much like any handcrafted watch, this one has many subtle and significant factors that makes it such an amazing discovery. It is one of the seven 'pink-on-pink' reference watches that feature the long (Patek Philippe & Co) signature instead of the short one that the most recent models flaunt. What additionally contributes to its exclusivity is the 'French' calendar wheel, which is only present in three other long signature ‘pink-on-pink’ reference 1518 watches. The watch’s Stern Frères-made pink dial is enhanced with moonphase, subdials and pink gold hour markers. 

Patek Philippe 1518 reference watch Sotheby's

For the first time since its creation in 1946, the watch will appear at Sotheby’s Important Watches auction. With only 10 of the 15 known ‘Pink-on-Pink’ 1518 models to have ever been offered for sale, this watch is estimated to fetch up to $4.5 million. 

Senior Vice President & Senior Watch Specialist at Sotheby’s, Jonathon Burford shares, “It is an honor and a privilege for Sotheby’s to be entrusted by the family of the original owner with the sale of their exceptionally rare and beautiful vintage Patek Philippe. The reason for it laying dormant, as it has remained in the possession of its original family since its purchase in 1947, was its being hidden in a draw untouched for 30 years. To unearth a previously unknown, undiscovered and vintage watch from a single owner in such remarkable condition is the stuff of dreams for vintage Patek Philippe collectors, a ‘holy grail’ watch so to speak.”

Patek Philippe 1518 reference watch Sotheby's

Emile Vichet, master casemaker, crafted all the gold 1518 cases which were divided into two series. The current example that will be offered for bids belongs to the second series (1946-1953), as indicated by its more tapered lugs, larger crown, and the lower position of the chronograph pushers. The case is presented in pristine condition with all four lugs retaining their original proportions, featuring sharp angles and crisp drilled spring bar holes. As you flip it, the caseback reveals the distinct and highly visible hallmark. 

Another reference 1518, formerly owned by Prince Tewfik of Egypt, was sold by Sotheby’s in 2021. The watch outperformed its pre-sale estimate and earned a total of $9.6 million, making it the third most expensive timepiece ever sold at auction. 

The live auction will take place in New York on June 9.

- By Pritha Debroy

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