here are watches that are icons and there are watches that are milestones. Patek Philippe world time watches are of the rare group that proudly combine the two and set the benchmark. This masterpiece is one of the most breathtaking examples of the iconic reference 2523/1, by far the most appreciated, elegant, collectible and sought-after world time models ever produced by any manufacturer.
- Patek Philippe ref. 2523/1
“One of Patek Philippe’s most important creations, the reference 2523/1 in pink gold and guilloché dial is in fact as rare as a stainless steel reference 1518, as only four are known. The example we have the privilege of presenting in the Geneva Watch Auction: XII is a time capsule, 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. To be able to behold and let alone to own such a spectacularly preserved piece is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the collector of such holy grail watches,” say jointly Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant of Bacs & Russo and Alex Ghotbi, Head of Watches Continental Europe & Middle East.
“One of Patek Philippe’s most important creations, the reference 2523/1 in pink gold and guilloché dial is in fact as rare as a stainless steel reference 1518, as only four are known.”
Legend has it that it was in 1876 after missing a train in Ireland that Scottish railroad engineer Stanford Fleming began to look for a way to standardize time. Speaking before the Royal Canadian Institute in Toronto in 1879, he proposed to divide the Earth into 24 time zones of 15° each, one hour apart with a universal time for each individual zone. However, as with most revelations that threaten to change the world, his idea was met with considerable resistance from governments and scientific communities alike. Fleming’s persistence paid off and his idea was finally adopted in 1884 in Washington, when the 25 nations taking part in the International Meridian Conference decided that the prime meridian of 0° longitude would pass through Greenwich, England.
Surprisingly however, a watch that would indicate multiple time zones seemed of little interest to watchmakers until genius watchmaker Louis Cottier designed a pocket watch movement featuring a local time with hour and minute hands at the center, linked to a rotating 24-hour ring, and bordered by a fixed outer dial ring with the names of different cities inscribed on it. The city of choice (local time zone) was placed at the 12 o’clock position with the hours/minutes hand set at local time, the watch would then display the correct time in both hours and minutes, night and day, for every time zone in the world simultaneously, all the while allowing easy and accurate reading of local time, and all on a single dial.
Cottier miniaturized his invention in the late 1930s which first appeared in prototype and pre-series then in the Patek Philippe reference 1415, a single crown model with its bezel engraved with cities to be switched manually. Patek Philippe made Cottier’s invention a staple in their collection creating a variety of models in different case shapes, pocket and wristwatches with simple dials to enamel or lavishly guilloché like this example to be sold by Phillips.
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. Two versions were available, reference 2523 with larger lugs sitting above the bezel and reference 2523/1 with a slightly larger diameter and thinner lugs no longer sitting above the bezel.