Just last week Sean looked at his personal highlights from the Phillips Inaugural New York auction, of which included a seriously rare star case Omega Alaska Project III and a minty Patek Philippe ‘Tasti Tonde’ chronograph ref. 1436 and very rare Philippe Dufour Duality. Of course, it goes without saying that many of you will know tomorrow in just over 24-hours we will perhaps see a world record set for a certain Daytona, which I highlighted. However, before that I thought it would be worthwhile to mention these two absolute gems that may well have gone unnoticed, not to mention they are also personal favourites of mine.
AUDEMARS PIGUET PERPETUAL CALENDAR REF. 5516
Lot 18: If any of you have read my post from a few years back on this very important wristwatch, then you’ll know just how rare and exquisite it is. For the uninitiated, I shall enlighten you to said piece. The 5516 is probably the most important perpetual calendar moon phases ever made by Audemars Piguet but more importantly, Phillips are offering this piece of history that has been wonderfully preserved. This yellow-gold perpetual calendar moon phase, which is one of only six pieces that were ever made with the moon phase displayed at 6 o’clock. There were three others made with the moon phase at 12 o’clock. The sub dial at 12 o’clock, features four individual calendar months – which you can see here.
This particular example features a champagne two-tone dial that sports a satin and brushed finish and features gilt hands and hour markers. On the periphery of the dial is the date ring and indicated by the three sub dials at 9, 12 and 3 o’clock are weekdays, leap year indicator and month respectively. The yellow-gold case on this timepiece is rather interestingly shaped, as you can see from the images.
But like many other watch manufacturers, who were not fully producing their own movements at the time, Audemars also had to source their base movements externally and in the case of this 5516, it houses a movement from the likes of Valjoux. Beating away at the heart of this 5516 is base movement Valjoux 13”’VZSSQP.
What makes this Audemars Piguet even more intriguing is that it was the first serially produced perpetual calendar wristwatch with leap year indication. No other brand would feature a perpetual calendar complication with leap year indicator until 1981, when Patek introduced the ref. 3450. Displaying just how far ahead of time Audemars really were.
PATEK PHILIPPE PERPETUAL CALENDAR CHRONOGRAPH REF. 1518
Lot 50: The Patek Philippe 1518 is a significant reference in the history of Patek Philippe, marked as the very first serially produced perpetual calendar chronograph. Introduced in 1941, amidst the backdrop of global turmoil, nobody else was making complicated pieces to such a degree. It was only via commissions that manufactures would produce a high-end watch such as this and what has really come to be in the fashion of Patek Philippe, they decided to buck the trend with the 1518.
The 1518 marked the first in many things but none more so than the design language established that has largely remained until today. With the two apertures at 12 o’clock for the day and the date, three proportionate subsidiary dials, with the moon phase at 6 o’clock being the largest of the three. The 1518 has come to represent the pinnacle of Patek Philippe – the Perpetual Calendar Chronograph.
As mentioned, the 1518 was the first serially produced perpetual calendar, which in the context of today, it may seem like they made lots of these but things were different back then. Only 281 pieces were made during its 14-year production run, roughly equating to approx. 20 pieces a year. So, in the context of things; is the 1518 rare? Of course.
There are only 44 known examples of the 1518 in rose-gold, making up a small percentage of the total amount produced. To be honest, I’ve never seen such an example in such well-preserved condition. The case is unbelievably sharp and defined, with a dial to match that displays a delightful warmth to its salmon hue dial. Something that this 1518 shares with the above 5516 AP is its base Valjoux 13 movement but of course, it has been heavily modified by the geniuses at Patek.
To view the entire Winning Icons catalogue, visit the Phillips website.