You could say these two watches are brothers. They certainly look related, and while they’re not exactly identical, they do share a common bloodline and quite a bit of history. After twice spending time in the same household, these two very rare Patek Philippe minute repeaters, ref. 2419 and ref. 2524/1, will likely be separated again next week, during the Phillips Hong Kong Watch Auction: Three, where they’ll hit the block one right after the other.
These two watches were made only eight years apart, and, on the surface, they are almost exactly the same. Both have 34mm yellow gold cases signed by Emile Vichet (the finest case maker of his era), both have unusual and oversized repeating triggers, and both feature blackened hands and numerals â Patek would occasionally do this upon request to increase the legibility of dials and both of these watches were delivered this way. It won’t come as a surprise to you then, when we tell you these were indeed originally made for the same individual. And yet, ref. 2419 and ref. 2524/1 each have distinct personalities of their own.
The watches were purchased separately by an American gentleman living in New York while Henri Stern was in town developing the company’s U.S. reach. In fact, it would have been typical for the Henri Stern Watch Agency (HSWA) to contact Geneva for special orders like these and in fact Henri Stern would sometimes meet collectors before placing their orders through local retailers (though that’s not proven in this case). We know however that ref. 2524/1 was ordered through HSWA, because the balance bridge is stamped “HOX,” indicating the movement was imported by the agency into the United States.
Now, let’s take a look at both watches, because, whoever he was, this gentleman collector had really good taste.
The reference 2419 is the first and the more unusual of the two. Purchased through Cartier in 1950, shortly after the French company hosted a special exhibition of Patek Philippe complications in New York, the watch was fitted with a movement that has a unique bridge configuration never again utilized by Patek Philippe (that we know of). It is also unusual in that both the repeating trigger and the crown are massive for a 34mm wristwatch, probably for functional purposes although they add to the watch’s aesthetic character as well. The crown itself is 7mm across and proportionally thick.
It’s thought the collector ordered the second minute repeater, this time through Tiffany & Co, because the first had to be sent back for a service. As a replacement, he chose a reference that can be described as common relative to the ref. 2419 â Patek made quite a few ref. 2524/1 models between 1955 and the late 1960s, in all three gold colors and in platinum, but this particular example is the only one with the finer lugs and a Tiffany & Co.âstamped dial. Life is good for the man who can’t live without a minute repeater.
Despite their similar construction, the 2524/1 has the higher-pitch tone of the two, almost certainly due to the respective designs of the calibers. The later reference in powered by a 12 ligne minute-repeating caliber signed by Fritz Piguet which has a trigger that slides downwards rather than upwards, and this one has the distinction of not featuring a small seconds â most 2524/1 actually do carry this feature, but a handful were made without.
Both minute repeaters were eventually sold by the original owner’s family separately, before an astute Asian collector, with similar taste in watches, reunited them. He purchased Ref. 2419 in 2011 through Antiquorum for $710,500, and added the Ref. 2524/1 to his collection one year later through Sotheby’s for $571,328. Now, four years down the line, they’re both coming up for sale again.
Unfortunately, these watches will almost certainly be saying goodbye once again, unless someone has set aside roughly $2,000,000 to buy the pair. You can be sure we will be rooting for that guy (or girl) though â having these under one roof, with all their shared history and similar looks, is just too good. If that doesn’t happen, at least we know a reunification at a latter stage is indeed possible. These two have found a way back together before.
For more information, check out the auction’s full catalog here.