A remarkably rare vintage Patek Philippe world time watch has sold for $730,000 in New York, leading a line-up of watches at Sotheby’s which fetched a combined total of $11.7 million.
The Ref. 1415 Yellow Gold World Time Wristwatch featured a delicate enamel dial with a map of Eurasia, and had only recently been discovered.
The Sotheby’s sale was described as "a momentous occasion in the vintage wristwatch collecting world", marking the first time in 20 years that a previously unknown example had been offered on the market.
Launched in 1939, the Patek Philippe World Time watch was advertised with the slogan: "For men with international interests, it is indispensable."
As the jet age slowly dawned, military and commercial aviation brought international travel to the masses, and wristwatches with world time mechanisms became one of the biggest success stories in watchmaking.
Using a sophisticated mechanism invented by Louis Cottier, the wearer could set and view their home time by rotating the bezel, while simultaneously reading the current time in 41 cities around the world.
In 1948 the company began to produce versions of the watch with dials created by enamelers Nelly Richard or Marguerite Koch, but this process lasted for just five years, and it’s estimated that only a quarter of all Ref. 1415 timepieces made during this time received such a dial.
Today, just eight examples of the Ref. 1415 with an enamel dial are known to exist – and only two of those depict a map of Eurasia, with the other six featuring the more common world map.
Further Patek Philippe watches in the auction were led by a Highly Important, Extremely Rare Ref. 5207 Pink Gold Minute Repeating Instantaneous Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Wristwatch, circa 2012, which sold for $490,000.
There were also six-figure sales for an Exceptional Ref. 5013 White Gold Automatic Minute Repeating Perpetual Calendar Tonneau Wristwatch with Retrograde Date and Moon-Phases which sold for $394,000, and an Important Ref. 5539 White Gold Minute Repeating Wristwatch with Tourbillon and Black Enamel Dial, circa 2013, which fetched $382,000.