There are watches that are icons, and there are watches that are milestones. Patek Philippe world time watches are of the rare breed that proudly combine the two and set the benchmark.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. 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.Fleming’s contribution to the creation of the world time watch did not stop with the creation of the world’s first system of standardized time, Sir Sandford went further than that. In 1880, Fleming commissioned a watch manufacturer in London to construct a unique pocket watch that would accurately reflect his proposal, and so was born the “Cosmic Time” pocket watch. The times for each of the 24 “zones” in Fleming’s system were depicted on a single dial, making his “Cosmic Time” pocket watch the world’s first world time watch as we know it.However, surprisingly the world time watch 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 center, linked to a rotating 24hour 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 the Patek Philippe reference 1415, a single crown model with its bezel engraved with cities to be switched manually. 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.When introduced to the market this new double crown world time was not a commercial success resulting in very few pieces manufactured.According to research, nine reference 2523/1 are known all case metal and dial combinations. However, the present lot is the only one known with the prestigious Tiffany & Co. signature.Patek Philippe stopped the production of world time watches in the late 1960s with the passing away of Louis Cottier and this complication came back into the Patek Philippe catalogue only in 2000 with the reference 5110. The present lot stands out thanks to its impressive condition. The distinctive facetted lugs, the case with its polished and brushed surfaces is in unmolested condition and the superb dial proudly displays the Tiffany & Co. signature making the present lot even more desirable and unique.The 41 cities inscribed on the dial are an invitation to travel and to quote Baudelaire “all is order, naught amiss: Comfort and beauty, calm and bliss”Vintage Patek Philippe world time watches are rare but finding one in such superb condition with double signed dial is close to impossible and would easily be the crown jewel of any collection.
An extremely rare, important and attractive 18K gold dual crown world time wristwatch with 24 hour indication, retailed by Tiffany & Co.
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
Case: The case in in overall excellent condition and it is our belief that it has never been polished before. The lugs are strong with perfectly defined angles, the polished and brushed surfaces providing for great contrast. Dial: The dial is in overall excellent condition with crisp printing, there are small spots on the dial but can be seen only under magnification. Movement: the movement stamped with the Geneva seal is in overall very good condition showing normal signs of wear. The movement is running and the world time functions perform correctly.
Different Patek Philippe World Time watches are illustrated in Patek Philippe Wristwatches by Martin Huber & Alan Banbery, second edition, pp. 240-247.