GOLD RUSH! A TREASURE TROVE OF VINTAGE PATEK PHILIPPE COMES UP FOR SALE

Assembled by 'The Nevadian', one of greatest collectors of our era, 37 important vintage Patek Philippe watches to hit the auction block

Every now and then a vintage collection of Patek Philippe timepieces comes up for sale at auction that requires a special look. This extraordinary collection of rare, vintage Patek Philippe timepieces, known as The Nevadian Collection is one of the most important we have seen in many years. Curator and specialist to the collection for Sotheby’s, Sam Hines, speaks to John Reardon and explains why this collection deserves our attention.

Top lot: this ref. 2499R second series in rose gold is possibly unique and in exceptional condition. It was retailed by Gobbi Milano in 1957. Image credit: Sotheby’s

John Reardon: Why is this collection named the ‘Nevadian Collection’?

Sam Hines: The name is one that the collector and I decided on. He is a very private man and does not like any attention. He has always been like this and prefers to just be as anonymous as he possibly can. Nevada is his favorite place in the world, where he spends a lot of time, so the name felt great.

JR: What can you share about the collector’s vision in building such an amazing collection?

SH: In the mid 1990’s the collector fell in love with Patek Philippe. At one point he had over 400 pieces and almost every reference was represented in multiples, quadruples and even many more of the same reference. He loves everything about Patek Philippe. Its’ history, manufacture, heritage, just about everything. He has always been a man of great taste and had the means to buy all his favorite models, primarily references 2499, 1518 and 2526.

JR: When did this collector put this collection together and how did he do it?

SH: He really started to buy in the mid-1990s up until around 2010. If he wanted something, there would really be no stopping him. He liked to say, “If I wanted something, I would just hold up my paddle and not put it down”. Prior to the sale, we would sit down, look at the watches and view them and talk about what was important. Condition, provenance and rarity, and would come up with a selection list. Then, the rest was history really.

Dual love: the ref. 2499J (left) and ref. 1518R (right) were the collector’s favorites. At one time, he even wore one on each wrist. The left ref. 2499J is a third series in yellow gold made in 1965. The ref. 1518 on the right is a pink-on-pink perpetual calendar with chronograph made in 1948. Image credit: Sotheby’s

JR: What are the owner’s favorite pieces in this collection and why?

SH: His favorite has always been the perpetual calendar chronograph. References 1518 and 2499 where his absolute favorite. The first time I met with him he was wearing a 1518 on one wrist and a 2499 on the other. He loved all complicated Patek Philippe and if he liked the design and condition, he would usually buy it! Honestly speaking, anything vintage Patek that he liked, he would buy. So many time-only, alongside some of the most important watches ever made by Patek Philippe sat sleeping, undisturbed for decades.

This beautiful ref. 2499R second series is a possibly unique and important pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph with moon phases. It was retailed by Gobbi Milano and made in 1957. Image credit: Sothebys

JR: What are your personal favorites and why?

SH: I think my favorite must be the pink Gobbi second series. Not only the rarity, but it is the only second series pink gold with a retail signature. When he bought the watch in 2007 at Christies for 2.7m SFR it was the world record for a ref. 2499 for many years, I think for ten years or so. I also love the yellow gold second series with luminous dial and original certificate. The one thing to note of great importance is that he did not wear these watches. He only wore the same two or three watches, and all the others he would just admire. Another favorite is the gold ref. 1463 with its original certificate. The watch is literally like new.

All together: this ref.  3970J is a well-preserved yellow gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases, 24 hours and leap year indication still has its original box and Certificate of Origin. Made circa 1992. Image credit: Sotheby’s

I love the ref. 3970 which is as crisp as you could find. The white ref. 3448 is also super. I love them all really. I have worked with the collector for a long time now and know his watches so well. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to have this curated, small, single-owner sale as a dedication to one of the greatest collectors of our era.

Perfect for a pocket: ref. 655/1 is an important and possibly unique yellow gold, two train trip minute repeating open face straight line perpetual calendar watch with moon phases. Retailed by Tiffany & Co. in circa 1957. Image credit: Sothebys

JR: What do you think of the pocket watches in this collection?

SH: The pocket watches are great. They are all very similar with sharp case lines and very reminiscent of the perpetual calendar wristwatches made alongside these pocket watches like the ref. 3448 for example. My favorite must be the straight-line, perpetual with trip-minute repeating and two-train movement. The watch is just so unassuming yet complicated. A very complicated watch — as you know they were both sold at Tiffany in the late 50’s. Philips sold the other last season for 500k USD.

Ringing true: this ref. 839 is a unique, hunter case yellow gold minute repeating perpetual calendar hunting case watch with moon phases. The movement was manufactured in 1874 and sold in 1875. It was re-cased upon special request in 1962. Image credit: Sotheby’s

I also really like the unique hunting cased perpetual calendar minute repeater. It’s a super watch and the case is so heavy. It’s amazing how these pocket watches also resonate with wristwatch collectors.

All around the world: a ref. 605 World Time pocket watch in pink gold with pink dial. Retailed by Gübelin in 1946. The masterful movement was designed by Louis Cottier. Image credit: Sotheby’s

JR: Your opinion on the ref. 605s?

SH: Super watches and I think due to the rarity they are very undervalued. The pink-on-pink is only known in 3 examples, including this one. The condition is wonderful as well.

Pretty in pink: a ref. 1518 pink-on-pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases. One of only 14 known, made in 1948. Image credit: Sotheby’s

JR: Let’s talk about this pink-on-pink ref. 1518. Sotheby’s just shattered the world record for a pink ref. 1518 last year. How does this one compare?

SH: As we know there are only 14 known pink-on-pink ref. 1518’s. The example that sold last season, was considered the very best, fresh to the market and in just breathtaking condition with impeccable provenance.  A true trophy watch that ticked every single box that today’s collectors use to determine value. The pink-on-pink that we currently have has been on the market a couple of times and was added to the collection in 2008. The watch needed to be serviced. Patek Philippe cleaned the dial and polished the case, so the lugs are not as thick or fat as they once were. The case still retains very strong hallmarks and all of the hard enamel printing to the dial. It is still a very important watch, just not as top quality as the example sold in New York last season. It would still make a collector very happy to own such an important watch.

Enamel perfection: these two ref. 2526 are very well preserved watches with enamel dials. The right has a rare black enamel dial circa 1953; the left is a pink gold ref. 2526 made in 1957 and retailed by Serpico Y Laino. Image credit: Sotheby’s

JR: Your thoughts on the ref. 2526s in this collection?

SH: 2526! Again, one of his favorites and if I recall, he had over 20 pieces, in every metal and every configuration. The four that we have in this sale are all different in one way or another. One example has a black enamel dial which is lovely; a regular, very nice quality gold example; a pink Serbio Y Liano; a pink with luminous dial and an uber rare, great quality ref. 3428.

Early automatic: this ref. 3428J is a very well preserved yellow gold wristwatch with enamel dial. Made in 1962. Image credit: Sotheby’s

I think being Patek’s first automatic, with enamel dials and in nice condition they are such good value and terrific watches, and collectors are beginning to pay more and more to secure the best quality.

Vintage but modern: this ref. 3448G is a very well preserved, white gold perpetual calendar wristwatch with day, date and moon phases. Made circa 1974. Image credit: Sotheby’s

JR: For the modern Patek collector that has never considered a vintage Patek before, what watch in this offering do you recommend and why?

SH: In my experience, for collectors who start buying modern production, typically as they learn more about rarity, their tastes refine and they want watches made by the firm in much smaller quantities; they work their way down as it were the timeline of production. For example, many collectors would go for a ref. 2499 forth series. The example we have is in super condition and complete with its original certificate. The case construction and look are still very modern. The white gold ref. 3448 is also an excellent option with still today a very crisp and modern looking case with automatic movement.

Heart-stopping: the only known ref. 2499 with a luminous dial. This second series model has luminous baton indexes and hands. Made circa 1958. Image credit: Sotheby’s

JR: There are so many pieces in this collection that I would want for my personal collection, I am at a loss of words, but the second series ref. 2499 with luminous dial really makes my heart skip. Can you tell me more about this watch?

SH: Great watch, John I must say. When researching it, we discovered it is the only luminous second series known. I think of the entire ref. 2499 history there are only four others know in different series out of almost 349 pieces made. As you know, any vintage Patek Philippe with a luminous dial is rare. To find a ref. 2499 with this configuration is just — WOW! The watch is also great quality with the original certificate as well. If my memory recalls, the watch was sold at Sotheby’s in the late 90’s from the family of the original owner.

JR: And the pink gold second series ref. 2449 Gobbi, is it as amazing in person as it appears in the images?

SH: The watch is really, really super. It has so much character. The hallmarks are great, the dial is great too and so is the fluting on the lugs. There are some minor spots on the dial but for me this just adds terrific character. It is an important watch and for over a decade held the title of the world record for a ref. 2499. Prior to auction in 2007, the watch had never been on the market and sat in some extremely important collections.

The ref. 3940 replaced the ref. 3450 as the third perpetual calendar created by Patek Philippe. This platinum piece was made circa 2000 and is in close to new condition with original box and Certificate of Origin. Image credit: Sotheby’s

JR: Finally, a couple of questions about the auction itself. Where will it be on tour? Will you be the auctioneer?

SH: Yes, we have gone to China, Bangkok, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. And yes, I will be taking the sale on April 25 in Hong Kong.

JR: I understand you were personally responsible for winning this consignment — congratulations! Was it difficult to estimate the watches in this collection?

SH: Thank you very much John. Yes, it was a little bit difficult to value. As you know, we always try to be as conservative as possible but then we need to create value as well and try and find a good balance. I hope we have a good day and the watches will make what they deserve.

Musical box: this ref. 844 is a yellow gold minute repeating pocket watch with a straight line perpetual calendar and moon phases, Retailed by Chronometre Beyer Zurich and made in 1977. Image credit: Sothebys

JR: With so much focus on modern Patek in recent auction seasons, how do you feel the state of vintage Patek collecting is these days?

SH: It has been a long time since such a vintage Patek collection has been offered. It gets harder and harder to find great vintage watches. Everything that has been coming up in the last five to ten years goes into a collection where it stays. The collectors are getting younger so the watches tend not to come back for longer. There has been a lot of focus on contemporary for sure, but I hope that this collection will offer collectors something different and important.

To view the full collection which will auctioned on April 25, 2022 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, please see here.

Special thanks to Sam Hines for taking the time to answer Collectability’s questions.

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