Way back when, in November 2015, Ben wrote a little story about the highlights of the Christie’s Geneva sale. You might recall that there was one watch in particular that caught our eye: the Patek Philippe reference 2497 with black gilt dial. It was the first time that a black gilt dial 2497 had hit the market – for an estimate of CHF 500,000 to 1 million – and the auction world was abuzz. On top of being totally fresh to market, the watch had a rich provenance (literally) as it formerly belonged to Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, who later gifted it to a friend (as one does). This friend was the consignor and listed it with Christie’s – and that is where things got sticky.
The auction went on as planned but the watch was pulled last minute in the middle of the auction on November 9, 2015, due to an ownership title dispute. Well, fast forward to today, and the Patek Philippe 2497 with black gilt dial is back on the market for the Christie’s Geneva sale on May 15. It has been confirmed that the ownership dispute has been settled.
So, back to the watch. Why is it so special? The 2497 followed the 1526, and is one of the early perpetual calendar wristwatches produced by Patek Philippe. It was in production from 1950 to 1963 and ran on the manual-winding caliber 27-SCQ. It is recognizable by its fat case with stepped lugs. This particular 2497 is special for several reasons, the most obvious being the black gilt dial, which is a rarity among vintage Patek Philippe. In addition, the combination of gilt printing and Arabic numerals is quite unusual and rarely comes up at auction (with the exception of this beauty).
The 2497 coming up for auction at Christie’s was gifted to Haile Selassie by Italian entrepreneur and pilot Federico Bazzi in 1954. Selassie then gifted the watch to an "eminent African personality," who then passed it down to his descendents – who are now selling the watch. As you may know, it is rare to be able to track the lineage of a watch, so this type of information is always beneficial to the sale.
All in all it is exciting to see this 2497 return to the market, as it was a major let down when we didn’t get to see the previous sale come to fruition. The estimate is once again CHF 500,000 to 1 million, and we will certainly be watching it closely on May 15. For more information on this watch and the rest of the auction, you can visit the Christie’s website.