An extremely rare ‘pink-on-pink’ Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph is set to cross the auction block this summer and it could sell for almost $5 million. Back in 1941, the legendary Swiss watchmaker Ref. 1518, which holds the distinction as the world’s first perpetual calendar chronograph to be serially manufactured. Patek Philippe made only 281 examples of the model, out of which just 58 units are believed to feature the pink gold case. One of those historically important pink gold Patek Philippe timepieces managed to fetch $1.7 million at an auction last year. However, the example that will be up for auction this year is even rare as the recently discovered piece represents the latest of only 15 ‘Pink on Pink’ versions known. Previously, only 14 pink-on-pink examples had been known to exist.
The “Pink-on-Pink” Ref. 1518 with striking salmon pink gold dial will headline Sotheby’s Important Watches Auction in New York on June 9 and is expected to sell anywhere between $2.5 million and $4.5 million. In 2021, a similar Ref. 1518 once owned by King Farouk I of Egypt was sold by Sotheby’s for a whopping $9.6 million, surpassing the pre-sales estimates by over four times. However, the sky-high sale price can be attributed to its royal provenance, pristine condition, and complete paperwork. This particular example has been in the possession of a single owner and it will be the first time the timepiece will change hands since first being sold in 1947, which makes it even more desirable. According to the auction house, the watch had been sitting untouched in a drawer for 30 years.
There are quite a few reasons this rare Patek Philippe might end up beating its pre-sale estimate. Produced in 1946, the timepiece features the watchmaker’s classic signature, which was replaced by a shorter version in 1948. It is believed that only 7 pink-on-pink Ref. 1518 have the classic signature. Additionally, only three examples with the original signature have the French calendar wheel, including this timepiece. The highlight of the watch is its salmon pink gold dial that gets a starry moonphase, subdials, and accenting pink-gold hour markers. The case was handcrafted by Emile Vichet and features tapered lugs and a large crown.
“To unearth a previously unknown, undiscovered and vintage watch from a single owner in such remarkable condition is the stuff of dreams for vintage Patek Philippe collectors, a ‘holy grail’ watch so to speak,” Sotheby’s executive Jonathon Burford said in a statement. It will be interesting to see if the timepiece ends up fetching more than $5 million.