Up Close Patek Philippe Observatory Tourbillon Pocket Watch No.
Of the hundreds of watches offered this auction season in Hong Kong, arguably the biggest bargain when taking into account sheer horological value and historical importance is the Patek Philippe observatory tourbillon pocket watch with movement number 198 312 that will be sold at Phillips.
Patek Philippe only made about 100 tourbillon pocket watches starting in the 1860s to the mid 20th century, primarily for observatory time trials, which were then a vital marketing tool.
Consequently, most tourbillon pocket watches were not sold, and instead submitted over and over again to observatory contests.
It is believed only about 10 or so tourbillon pocket watches were ever sold, and this is one of them.
According to the archive extract, the watch was sold, somewhat surprisingly, in 1934, during the Great Depression.
The extract also notes the sale only came after it was submitted to the Geneva Observatory twice in 1929 when it won first prize, and then in 1931 when it received an honourable mention.
Observatory tourbillon pocket watches were a spare-no-expense creation, produced by the most talented craftsmen using the most expensive materials.
This watch for instance has its regulator scale plate, which is screwed onto the tourbillon carriage, made of solid gold, as are the wheels of the gear train.
And the balance wheel is split and bimetallic with gold adjusting screws, the top of the line balance wheel of the time.
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