With Patek Philippe Certificat d'Origine confirming production of the present watch with bezel set with 128 Top Wesselton Pure diamonds for a total weight of 1.17 ct., purchase invoice and wooden presentation box. Furthermore delivered with Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirming production of the present watch in 1982 in platinum with black ribbed dial and 11 diamond hour markers, platinum bracelet and 128 diamonds for approx. 1.17 ct, and its subsequent sale on 24 August 1988
It is the dream of any watch connoisseur to discover, let alone to own, an unknown piece that rewrites accepted scholarship on a certain model. The resurfacing of such a specimen is, obviously, an extremely rare occurrence. It happened in 2008 with the discovery of the second Patek Philippe reference 2497 cased in platinum and in 2010 with the appearance of Patek Philippe gold reference 1527. It happened in 2011, when Christie's sold the previously unknown pink gold version of Patek Philippe reference 3448. And it happens again now, with the discovery of this stellar timepiece.
The Nautilus is possibly the most recognizable wristwatch made by Patek Philippe. Designed by Gérald Genta and inspired by the shape of a ship's portholes, it was available as of 1976. It was developed as Patek Philippe's answer to Audemars Piguet's enormously successful Royal Oak, ironically a Genta design as well. With its generous proportions, unusual case design striking the perfect balance between sportive, elegant and understated, and the very robust construction, the first foray of Patek Philippe into the world of sport watches became immediately a worldwide commercial success, and marked the beginning of the Nautilus legend all watch aficionados know.
The first incarnation of this landmark model is the legendary reference 3700. Scholars agree that normal production of this model included versions in steel, steel and gold, yellow gold and a very limited production in white gold - with or without diamonds. In May 2013, Christie's sold the previously unknown reference 3700/1 (case number 552'214) in platinum for the impressive amount of 783'000 CHF. The discovery of that piece had the collectors' community wonder if Patek Philippe had produced a second platinum example, but no one ever dared to dream of a jewelled version of the timepiece: it would have been an impossible wish.
Luckily, in this case reality surpasses fiction: the second platinum Nautilus here for sale is not a standard reference 3700/1, but rather a 3700/031: indeed part of the echelon of jewelled timepieces, the most exclusive and rarified of Patek Philippe's productions. Most likely a special order, it is highly probable that no other watch left Patek Philippe with this same configuration, or even with the same reference. Adding to the overall appeal of the piece, and a testament to the highest standards this watch was manufactured under, the bracelet is made by legendary jeweller Gay Frères, as denoted by its stamping on the clasp.
As a matter of fact, following the discovery of this timepiece, in-depth research was conducted and it was discovered that, overall, Patek Philippe produced four 3700 watches cased in platinum. Most probably, the cases were all part of a single order commissioned between 1980 and 1981 to Neuchâtel-based case maker Favre-Perret (hallmark 115, inscribed into a hammer as it always is for the Canton of Neuchâtel), the elected case maker for the Nautilus since the inception of the model and until around 1981. Consequently, this order is one of the last batches of Nautilus cases made outside of Patek Philippe manufacture, as the company began production of these cases in their Ateliers Réunis workshop in 1981. It is highly probable that each one of these four watches was a special order, finished on-demand and reserved for extremely special clients, a theory supported by the fact that seven years passed between the case order and the sale of the watch, in this instance. It is of course unknown how the remaining two unknown watches were finished, but it is a reasonable assumption that all platinum 3700 were finished differently according to the different clients' requests.
As incredible as it may sound, the historical importance of the first haute joaillerie platinum 3700 is matched by its condition. Never restored, most probably never polished, and worn a handful of times at most, the proportions and finish of this majestic timepiece shine in all their glory. The subtle beveling of the lugs, so often lost with the first polishing, is crisp and defined; the satin finish is untouched; the case back without the smallest mark. The watch presents only extremely minor surface markings noticeable on the polished details of bezel and bracelet after careful examination.
If historical importance and condition are not enough, even the most spoiled collector will be rendered speechless by the presence not only of its original Certificate d'Origine and box, but also of the original invoice issued by the Salon Patek Philippe in Geneve on 24 August 1988.
The consignor of the watch, actually the first owner of the piece, bought it personally in Geneva in 1988, preserved this hidden treasure and its documentation with the utmost care. This is equally welcome and unsurprising, given the obvious long term vision, knowledge of the market, intuition and unrivalled good taste demonstrated in buying this masterpiece nearly thirty years go.
This timepiece is without a doubt the most important Nautilus to come to market ever, if not the most important sport watch to ever appear for sale.
Patek Philippe. A superb, possibly unique and previously unknown platinum and diamond automatic wristwatch with date, bracelet, original certificate, purchase invoice and box
THE PROPERTY OF THE ORIGINAL OWNER
Cal. 28.255 automatic movement, 36 jewels, black ribbed dial, diamond numerals, luminous hands, window for date, water-resistant-type case of typical form, bezel set with 128 Top Wesselton Pure diamonds, platinum Patek Philippe and Gay Freres bracelet, deployant buckle, Case, dial and movement signed
END OF SALE
Patek Philippe, 1980s, self-winding (automatic), Watches, gent's wristwatch, platinum, Vintage
WATCHES & WRISTWATCHES
42 mm. diam.; overall bracelet length approx. 175 mm. Weight approx. 260 grams
On lots marked with an + in the catalogue, VAT will be charged at 8% on both the premium as well as the hammer price.