Christie’s has announced the sale of a horological masterpiece in its Hong Kong Live auction on 24 May: the Patek Philippe 605 Heures Universelles, an 18K gold open-faced keyless lever world time watch with polychrome cloisonné enamel dial representing a map of the world.
Manufactured in 1948, and sold in 1954, this magnificent exemplar of Haute Horlogerie, one of the earliest to avail itself of Louis Cottier’s world time system, and created under Cottier’s direct supervision, is presented for the first time at auction. Among the 95 pieces produced by Louis Cottier and Patek Philippe from 1939 to 1964, only 3 examples in yellow gold, with an enamel map depicting the entire globe, are known to have survived.
The present yellow gold Ref. 605 HU is a superb and extremely well-preserved example of Patek Philippe’s world time watches with cloisonné enamel dial.
Patek Philippe’s reference 605 HU (Heures Universelles) World Time dress watches with cloisonné enamel dial are among the most beautiful horological masterpieces of the marque’s 20th century production. This reference was one of the earliest to be based on Louis Cottier’s world time system, and each watch was designed and made under Cottier’s direct supervision.
From 1939 to 1964, Louis Cottier and Patek Philippe produced a total of 95 pieces, with 68 watches created in yellow gold and 27 in pink gold. The Reference 605 HU was available with a metal dial or a unique cloisonné enamel dial. Depending on the model, the latter depicted individual continents, hemispheres or even the entire planet, such as the present example.
Today, only 3 examples in yellow gold, with a cloisonné enamel rendering of a world map, are known to have survived. One is displayed at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, one in a private collection and one is being presented at auction for the first time at Christie’s in Hong Kong.
Masterfully crafted by the fabled enamellers Stern Frères, the dial of this watch is stamped with its movement number on its back, confirming that it had always been intended for this particular Ref. 605 HU.
The world time or Heures Universelles mechanism was invented in 1931 by the celebrated Geneva watchmaker Louis Cottier (1894-1966). The technology was incorporated into watches by several of Switzerland’s leading watch firms, including Patek Philippe (ref. 605, 1415 and 2523), Vacheron Constantin (ref. 3372), Agassiz and Rolex (ref. 4262). Cottier further perfected the movement in 1953 with the ability to adjust the city disk via a secondary crown. This allowed Patek Philippe to patent a system in 1958 by which the hour hand could be moved without affecting the progression of the minute hand.
- Name of the watch: Patek Philippe 605 Heures Universelles
- Estimate: HK$5,000,000–10,000,000