Patek Philippe Reference 2523/1 To Lead Phillips Geneva Auction

Phillips auction house and Bacs & Russo, are slowly revealing the statement timepieces that are being offered in their upcoming Geneva sale. There have already been some surprises.

The first is that the top lot of the November 6 - 7 “Geneva Watch Auction: XII” sale at the Hôtel La Réserve is a Patek Philippe reference 2523/1 world time wristwatch in rose gold. The auction house says it is an “extremely rare double-crowned world time model with guilloché dial.” It is one of only four that are known to exist.

The second surprise is that the Geneva sale will be extended to a third day with a themed auction on November 8 titled, “Retrospective: 2000 – 2020.” The watches in this sale were curated with Blackbird Automotive, a Hong Kong firm which specializes in buying, selling, restoring and servicing world-class automobiles. The company also owns a well-regarded catalog that specializes in high watchmaking.

Aurel Bacs, senior consultant of Bacs & Russo and Alex Ghotbi, head of Watches Continental Europe & Middle East, are calling the Patek Philippe Reference 2523/1 both an icon and a milestone. Its estimate is $2.1 million - $4.3 million.


“Its impeccable state of preservation and superb dial make this reference 2523/1 one of the most desirable watches to have left the ateliers of Patek Philippe,” the two watch specialists said in a joint statement.

Launched in 1953, the reference 2523 featured a new two-crown system, one for winding the watch and the other at 9 o’clock controlling the city disc. The piece being offered at auction was likely to have never been polished, which is a good thing as this case reacts badly to being polished. In addition, the dial is fitted with a “superb” guilloché pattern. Out of the four known reference 2523/1 in pink gold with guilloché dial, one is in the Patek Philippe museum and the other two have been in private European collections for more than 15 years.


Highlights from The Geneva Watch Auction: XII, November 6 and 7

The collection of watches for the sale spans the 20th and 21st centuries. Among the highlights:

* A group of 30 timepieces from a private collector identified only as “Mr. Green.” The two watch specialists say this person is “one of the world’s greatest collectors and scholars, with an astute eye for detail and uncompromising desire for quality.” Included in this collection are Patek Philippe, Omega, Longines and Rolex watches. The star lot is “an incredibly well-preserved and most probably unpolished” Rolex reference 8171 in stainless steel with an estimate of $326,583 - $653,167.

Patek Philippe

* A “superb” reference 130 in steel with sector dial from 1939 originally sold in France and being offered by a French family (estimate $272,153 - $490,000);

* An “extremely rare” reference 3974 minute repeater with perpetual calendar in platinum from 2001 with an opaline dial as well as a black dial with Breguet numerals (estimate $762,029 - $1.5 million); 

* A “very well preserved” reference 1518 in yellow gold from the 1940s, from an important private collection. This reference was launched in 1941 and was the world’s first perpetual calendar chronograph made in series (estimate $272,153 - $490,000);

* Two reference 2499s. The first: a second series from the collection of one of the greatest collectors and scholars: John Goldberger (estimate $762,029 - $1.3 million); the second: a third series sold by Swiss retailer Bayer and one of only four known with the Beyer signature. It comes with its original box, certificate and invoice (estimate $435,445 - $870,890).


* An “incredibly well-preserved” reference 6200 “Big Crown,” one of Rolex’s first Submariner models with the sought after 3, 6, 9 “Explorer dial,” and a chocolate “tropical dial” (estimate $435,445 - $870,890);

* A “very well-preserved” reference 6241 Daytona “John Player Special” in 14k yellow gold with Paul Newman dial (estimate $653,167 - $1.3 million).

Highlights from Retrospective: 2000 - 2020, November 8

Organized with Blackbird, “Retrospective: 2000 – 2020” showcases watches from the first 20 years of this millennium. TK Mak, founder and chairman of Blackbird Automotive Group, said the past 20 years has seen great changes in the manufacture of watches as well as those who collect them.

“It has been fascinating to reflect on the landmark watches that have emerged, and the cultural environment that shaped them, over the past 20 years,” he said. “We have worked hard to create a catalogue that we expect will become a resource on contemporary horology for many in years to come, providing perspective to the pieces on offer.”

Patek Philippe

* To be offered for the first time at auction is a possibly unique pink gold reference 5531 world time minute repeater with cloisonné enamel dial representing Lake Geneva with a gold bracelet (estimate $544,306 - $1.1 million);

* A reference 5207 perpetual calendar, minute repeater and tourbillon in platinum (estimate $381,000 - $762,000);

* Appearing on the market for the first time is an “incredibly rare” reference 5959 split seconds chronograph in pink gold with black dial (estimate $196,000 - $391,900).

F.P. Journe

The themed sale will include six creations by François-Paul Journe’s, including:

* His “incredible” Grande et Petite Sonnerie in steel (estimate $326,583 – $653,167)

* A Tourbillon Souverain “Black Label” that was available only to existing owners of F.P. Journe watches (estimate $871,000 - $174,178);

* His signature Resonance in 38mm platinum case with brass movement ($54,430 - $108,861).


* “Lupin, the Third,” a one-off chronograph directly reproducing the dial of a Zenith worn in the Japanese manga series. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the charity Zoé4Life, a registered non-profit organization, recognized as a public service utility whose mission is to support research, provide financial support to families in need, support kids during their treatments and raise awareness about childhood cancer.

Twenty-First Century Watch Brands

* The Richard Mille RM038 “Bubba Watson” tourbillon in a magnesium case (estimate $196,000 - $391,900):

* A unique Kari Voutilainen dual time decimal minute repeater (estimate $147,000 - $245,000).

Among the additional watches that will be offered, are pieces that have come from brands who have made their mark in the 21st century. They include: A. Lange & Söhne, MB&F, Greubel Forsey, Urwerk, De Bethune and Laurent Ferrier.



-Anthony Demarco


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