Historic and Exceedingly Rare Patek Philippe Wristwatch Ref. 1515 Truly Exceptional 18K Rose Gold
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warrants that the merchandise shall be free from defects in material and workmanship under normal use for a period of one (1) year from the date of purchase by you (the “Warranty Period”). The Warranty Period is not extended if we repair or replace the merchandise. We may change the availability of this limited warranty at our discretion, but any changes will not be retroactive.
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With respect to any defective merchandise during the Warranty Period, we will, in our sole discretion repair or replace such merchandise (or the defective part) free of charge. We will also pay for shipping and handling fees to return the repaired or replacement merchandise to you if we elect to repair or replace the defective merchandise.
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- Shipping cost to Secondhand Horology.
Secondhand Horology is determined to stand behind every part of your shopping experience. The Secondhand Horology warranty allows you to make a completely risk-free purchase. This has been our policy and our promise since we began nearly three decades ago serving customers on a local level. Now, we are standing by this policy as we serve online customers from around the world. We look forward to serving you and giving you the incredible value and experience you deserve.
An exceedingly rare, never before offered on the open market, 1943 Patek Philippe in 18K Rose Gold
What’s more desirable than an exceptionally preserved vintage Patek Philippe? An EXCEPTIONALLY RARE, exceptionally well preserved, Patek Philippe - Please read on.
In the world of high end, collectible vintage watches, few names surpass Vacheron-Constantin, Audemars Piquet, Patek Philippe, which collectively are often referred to as the “Holy Trinity” of watchmaking.
Typically speaking, Patek Philippe has long been regarded as the ultimate leader of the pack, as well as a symbol of accomplishment, prestige, class, refinement, power, and understated wealth. Many collectors in the watch world have values that fully align with Patek’s slogan, “You never actually own a Patek Phillipe, merely look after it for the next generation.”
Considered by many to be the most prestigious timepiece manufacturer in the world, with both vintage and modern Patek Philippes, you are not just buying a “watch”, but rather something timeless that could outlast you and be passed on to your children for generations as a family heirloom.
Now, for the story of this particular piece, unraveling of a great mystery, and finally, some answers.
I acquired this from a gentleman who has been in the jewelry business with his family for a number of years. While they deal pre-owned watches, jewelry is their primary focus. Being a watch dealer exclusively, I had met him and his family during the beginning of the pandemic and since that time, we have become friends and have developed a great working relationship. Knowing that his family had a large variety of vintage watches, I kept bugging him to let me see the items that were just collecting dust in the old safe in the back of the store. Finally, we agreed on a time and date to meet.
During this expedition, we found numerous nice pieces - Omega, Rolex, Piaget, Breitling, Festina, and finally, a Patek Philippe. Now, I am NOT a Patek Philippe expert, but I know enough to verify authenticity. This particular piece initially struck me as odd and he said another dealer once told him it was fake. I decided to crack the case. The caseback was heavily hallmarked and looked to be spot on. The movement was easily verifiable as a 10-110 or 10-200. I did notice that there was a spacer on the movement, so I figured there was a 50/50 chance that this movement was either original, or the movement had been replaced. Spoiler Alert - it’s original. Read on.
The watch had been serviced by a gentleman who specializes in high end watch service within the last 18 months. He said it took a year to come back to him, and since then it had just been sitting in a safe, with no way for a customer to see it. He said this was primarily because their customer base had been seeking modern pieces and showed little interest in vintage pieces. When I asked how long the watch had been there, he said “I can't give you a specific date, but it’s been here as long as I have, and I have been here for 20 years”. We agreed on a price and I took the watch with me, not knowing the lengths I was going to have to go to find the true information on the watch. Upon return to my shop, I opened it up, got out my books, and began to investigate. To my surprise, I could not match this watch up with ANY of the reference numbers that are widely cataloged. Going off of the serial number, I dated the watch to 1943-44. At first glance, it looked like it was potentially a 1589R, however, the dimensions did not match… not at all. I then investigated the possibility of a 1516, but the lugs didn’t match and again, the dimensions were off.
Hitting a dead end, I reached out to a very well-known Patek expert on the West Coast who is very knowledgeable and was a Patek Philippe authorized dealer for 43 years. He asked me if I was comfortable disassembling the watch to take photographs of the top of the movement to identify the caliber. I told him that I was absolutely comfortable with that, and I would get the photos to him.
Much to my surprise and delight, upon removal of the dial, I found that the SPACER ring had a SERIAL number that matched the case back number. This was great to know, as it meant that this movement was no mistake, and that this watch case was specifically made by Antoine Gerlach to accommodate a spacer ring. He also elaborated that the dial was a Stern Freres dial. Great information to have! I shared the photos with him, and while I think we were both hoping that we would be able to identify the reference number of this watch, the mystery actually deepened.
At this time, I took all my photographs and contacted Patek Philippe to do an investigation and procure an “Extract From The Archives” (pictured). I was informed that the process could take up to 10 weeks. I waited not-so-patiently.
While constantly researching and trying to identify this piece, I contacted another very well-known Patek Philippe dealer and historian also located on the West Coast. He was also perplexed, but speculated it could have been an early example of a 1516R.
Finally, I received an email that said a package was arriving via FedEx from Patek. I immediately emailed their customer service and asked if they could at least share the reference number with me prior to the arrival of the extract. They responded and said “Your watch is a 1515.”
I scrambled to my books and nowhere at all did I find a Reference 1515. I fired off an email to Patek asking if this was a typographical error, as none of my books noted that a Reference 1515 even existed. I also launched emails to both of the experts who had been helping me. They both responded that it was an EXTREMELY rare piece. One of the gentlemen went a step further and shared with me that the watch was produced from 1941-1949. Models from 1941-46 were fitted with caliber 10-110, and 1947-1949 models were fitted with 10-200 movements. He also went on to say that less than 80 (I do not know the exact number) were produced, and that only TEN examples have ever been made available on the open market, and nearly all examples (produced and offered for sale) were yellow gold.
The next day, the extract from the archives arrived. It read -
Type of Watch: Wristwatch
Movement No. 911’513
Caliber: 10-110, Manual Wind
Case No. 298’418
Style: Reference 1515, 18K Rose Gold
Type of Dial: Silvered Dial, Applied Gold Hour Markers
Date of Manufacture: 1943
Date of Sale: February 19th, 1945
Bracelet: Leather Strap
Remarks: This timepiece was sold with a leather strap.
There it was, confirmed, an exceptionally rare 1943 Reference 1515 in 18K Rose Gold. The bracelet, as we had already known, was aftermarket. It is a custom made Gay Freres thick link 18K Rose Gold bracelet. What I find most incredible about this bracelet is not only how absolutely beautiful it is, but how absolutely well the color of the bracelet matches the case. Another thing that becomes obvious the moment you view it/put it on your wrist, is how the bracelet really does make the watch wear and appear much larger than its 30.2mm case size would imply. At 4.9mm thick, the bracelet is definitely an attention getter. Paired together, it is perhaps the most beautiful vintage Patek “Calatrava” style piece I have ever seen. The case itself measures 30.2mm without crown, and 32.2mm with crown. Lug to lug, it is 38mm.
A note about the dial - to my eyes, the dial appears to not be repainted, even under a microscope. Some of the fellow vintage dealers I have shown it to have said “well, it’s a redial, because it does not say swiss at the bottom”. However, at this time, it was not the standard Stern Freres to paint “Swiss” on the bottom of every dial. The thought was that “everyone knows that Patek Philippe is a Swiss watch, so there is no need to advertise its country of origin on the dial.” While speaking with, and sharing high resolution photos of the dial with expert #2, he stated “Wow, great pics. From the back of the dial, the rivets indicate that it has not been refinished, but the vertical striations on the front of the dial make it look like an old Patek cleaning job to me. To play it safe, you may want to say ‘possibly refinished’. To properly assess a dial, I need to view under a scope with my own eyes before making a definitive opinion. However, the vertical striations often indicate it was cleaned at some point.”
For a more condensed version of the measurements:
Case size: 30.2mm without crown; 32.2mm with crown
Lug to Lug: 38mm
Bracelet thickness: 4.9mm
Lug Size :17mm
Bracelet and case weight without movement and crystal: 83.2 grams
Complete weight is 96.3 grams
The watch is not coming with the original box, but is coming with the extract from the archives. We are very accustomed to shipping high value pieces, so rest assured that this watch will safely arrive in great condition.
Should you have any additional questions or would like to discuss the watch further, please do not hesitate. Our goal is to get this in the hands of a true collector who will take proper care of this timepiece and act as its caretaker for future generations to enjoy, as another opportunity to purchase a clean example of a 1515R may never actually occur.