Auction News

LBJ Patek Philippe watch for sale in New York


A Patek Philippe watch made for President Lyndon B Johnson

A Patek Philippe watch given away by Lyndon Johnson before he became US President will feature at a June auction in New York. 

A series of reference 2526 and 2552 watches – 18-karat gold automatic Patek Philippes – made in the 1950s were inscribed on the dial with “Do Unto Others As You Have Them Do Unto You”. 

Until relatively recently the story behind these watches had remained obscure. 

Since 2017, it has been believed that all of them were bought by LBJ while he was a senator and given away as gifts. 

One was owned by Senator Smathers, a Florida politician who was a close ally of Johnson. 

Two are in the LBJ Museum. 

The watches, made in gold, were extremely expensive when they were bought by Johnson. They were imported. 

As Patek have no record of the inscribed dials it is likely that the retailer, Tiffany & Co, carried out the personalisation. 

Sen. Kerr, right, breaking the ground at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center alongside Wernher von Braun.

This watch was given to Robert Kerr, another Senator who had presidential ambitions. Kerr gave it to a pilot who he credited with keeping him safe on a dangerous flight. 

It carries a top estimate of $45,000.

Patek Philippes are extremely desirable and very valuable. 

A completely unique Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime sold at auction in 2019 for $31.19 million. 

The 2526 and 2552 were the first Patek Philippe automatic movements. Automatic movements use the wearer’s motion to move weights within the watch that generate the power to wind the watch automatically. 

Both were prized for their accuracy and technical excellence. 

They are extremely elegant. Tiffany “dual signature” dials are much sought after by collectors. 

Johnson himself wore a Rolex Day/Date and the reference is nicknamed The President in his honour, though it was worn by earlier presidents too.

This present watch is a unique record in American presidential history and its estimate is surely to be exceeded in the sale on June 10. 

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