Detail of the inner case back
The case was made by Emile Vichet, who was regarded as one of the finest case makers of his time and produced most of the Patek Philippe minute repeater cases. Interestingly the case back bears no repair marks as, apparently, the watchmakers qualified to undertake service and repairs at Patek Philippe were instructed not to sign the inside case back as it was considered this might alter the carefully crafted tone of the repeater
Offered for the first time at auction by a descendant of the original owner, the condition and attractive dimensions of the present Patek Philippe Ref. 2419 can only truly be appreciated when viewed in person. Originally purchased in 1950 by a prominent New York businessman when already in his advance years, the watch is clearly designed for someone who required ease of use. The dial represents true simplicity with index markers and oversized subsidiary seconds, the crown is a previously unseen gold version with a large 7mm diameter to offer easier winding and the repeater slide ordered as an oversize to similarly provide ease of use. Examples of Patek Philippe watches with blackpainted gold markers can be found during the same era, however it is our opinion the markers on this watch were not painted by the factory but modified later to provide a more visible dial. The increased size of the crown and slide, along with the larger subsidiary seconds create a well-balanced watch that belies its 34mm diameter, appearing considerably larger. The family of the original owner recalls the watch being worn by their elderly relative on an expandable bracelet over his shirt cuff with great care and attention. This would explain both the requirement of the oversized features and the exceptional condition. The underside of the (probably gold) dial is hand-engraved with reference numbers from Stern Frères, the Patek Philippe dial supplier at the period, with their reference showing the dial was intended for Patek Philippe (93), the Patek Philippe order number (4881) and the movement number of the watch. Such hand engraved reference numbers were only used on special request - one piece only - orders. Furthermore the Swiss signature is also hard enameled into the dial rather than printed, a feature usually reserved for special order dials.
Adding to the multiple unique aspects of this watch the bridge design of the movement ebauche used, although similar to the Victorin Piguet, has not been previously documented and is the first example of its kind seen used by Patek Philippe. According to Patek Philippe literature the reference 2419 was launched in 1946 and bears a caliber 10-200, time only movement. Research has uncovered at least one time-only example of this reference manufactured at a later period. No other minute repeating examples are known or documented. Considering the unique manufactured dial, previously unrecorded movement bridge design and lack of any reference numbers to the underside of the bezel, it can confidently be assumed this was manufactured as a unique watch for a very particular and demanding client.
It is interesting to note that Cartier Jewelers hosted a special event for Patek Philippe in New York from April 15th to April 23rd 1949, showcasing their important watches and complications. Assuming the movement had already been manufactured by Patek Philippe in 1946 but remained uncased, it is realistic to consider the original owner met with Patek Philippe senior management at the Cartier event and began negotiations for a unique minute repeating wristwatch, to be delivered one year later on April 21st, 1950. The underside of the upper left shoulder is clearly stamped with the four digit Cartier New York retailer stock number 7026.
For a similar example of black painted numerals and hands see page 326 in the John Goldberger book "Patek Philippe Steel Watches". Both lot 275 and the example illustrated in the book, a reference 1526 sold in 1951, were stamped HOX to the balance bridge indicating they were imported into the USA by the Henry Stern Watch Agency in New York.
Considering the unquestionable provenance, condition, overall quality, complication and modern masculine styling of the watch, it is without doubt the most important and desirable example of a minute repeating Patek Philippe wristwatch to be offered to collectors.
The Ref. 2419 is the only known vintage minute repeater to use a concave bezel.
Special thanks to Eric Tortella
DETAILS 1 As new
DETAILS 1 As new
HANDS 01 Original
DETAILS 1* As new (overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense)
Experts' Overall Opinion
OVERALL OPINION exceptional