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Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Earliest Known Patek Philippe Grand Complication Sells For A Record $2.25 Million
The earliest and most significant example of a Patek Philippe Grand Complication sold for more than $2.25 million Tuesday at Christie’s New York Important Watches auction—well above its $1.5 million high estimate. The price represents a world auction record for a Patek Philippe Grand Complication.
The Stephen S. Palmer Patek Philippe Grand Complication No. 97912 is a minute repeating perpetual calendar split-seconds chronograph clockwatch with grande and petite sonnerie and moon phases, manufactured in 1898. It has never been seen in public and it was the first time it ever appeared on the auction block.
The definition of Grand Complication is often debated among watch experts and collectors, but it is generally agreed that it features the following: Grand and Petite Sonnerie, Perpetual Calendar and Moon Phases, and Split-Seconds Chronograph.
Until the appearance of the 18k pink gold Palmer watch, it was broadly accepted that Patek Philippe did not make its first Grand Complication until 1910 and that the second ever made was reserved before World War I for James W. Packard in 1916, Christie’s said recently.
With all of the avid collectors of important watches, the historical watch experts, and the way that luxury watch companies maintain their historical data—how could such a rare and valuable watch be unknown? Last night I attended a panel presentation on Grand Complications at the Aaron Faber Gallery in New York and was told by two of the panelists that this type of thing does occasionally happen. Michael Friedman, an historical watch expert, explained to me that being in a private collection the watch was unknown. In addition, even if Patek Philippe has the information in its archives it would not have released it unless asked.
The watch was purchased on Oct. 3, 1900, for 6,500 Swiss francs by Stephen S. Palmer. The original certificate and presentation box were included in the sale.
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I am a freelance writer and editor who covers the luxury jewelry and watch industry for several publications, including Forbes.com the Financial Times, Hong Kong-based JewelleryNetAsiaand the Italian jewelry magazine, VO+. In addition, I have my own blog covering the jewelry and watch industry, Jewelry News Network.