As those in the know like to say, ‘If it’s good enough for Henry Graves, Jr…’. Mr. Graves bought his first coin watch on June 29, 1928 on the eve of the Great Depression.
This early example, one of the first-ever made by Patek Philippe, led to an entire line of coin watches offered throughout the 20th century, including the references 801, 802, and 803. But it was not until the 1950s through 1980s that coin watches were part of Patek’s regular offering, and to this day the coins represent a form of understated luxury that only those in the know can appreciate.
A coin watch is complicated to master as it needs to look exactly like a regular coin when the lid is closed. Only when opened by a small latch concealed within the side of the coin is the watch revealed and with it the realization that the ultra-slim watch movement, crystal, and case are all able to fit within the tiny space. From a production point of view, a minimum of two coins was sacrificed to make each coin watch. These works of art are a homage to the micromechanics and art of case making and watchmaking.
Over 15 different references were made, the most common being the ref. 802. However, all Patek coin watches are fairly rare given that fewer than 200 examples were ever made and only 40 have surfaced to date. I always wonder if there are some coin collectors that have a piece in their collection and have no idea it has a Patek concealed within it. If you find one in your vault, please let me know. I am obsessed with Patek Philippe coin watches.
Visit the Collectability Shop to see ref. 801 and the ref. 803.