Christie’s Rare Watch Auction takes place in Geneva and online today, with 234 timepieces going under the hammer.
Watches range from late 18th century pieces right through to modern, but rare models at prices ranging from CHF 2000 up to CHF 2.5 million.
The star lot is an 18ct gold perpetual calendar Patek Philippe reference 2499 with moon phase hailing from Caracas, Venezuela, is signed by the retailer Serpico Y Laino, Caracas, that sold it in the early 1950s. It has a pre-sale estimate of CHF 1.5 million to CHF 2.5 million but is expected to sell for considerably more.
The right to put a name on a Patek Philippe dial is an honour given to a small number of retailers who were prominent in either their country or region and include retailers such as Tiffany & Co, Cartier and indeed Serpico y Laino, Caracas.
The store’s co-founder Vicente Laino was born in Italy and emigrated to Venezuela in the 1920s where he went into business with Leopoldo Serpico, a fellow Italian immigrant.
With wealth levels in the country rising on the back of the post-war oil boom, Serpico y Laino set about looking for watches to sell to the newly affluent sections of the population, and went into business with Patek Philippe. As trained goldsmiths, both Serpico and Laino would have appreciated the design and manufacture of the case made by Wenger, one of Geneva’s most accomplished case makers at the time. This first series Patek Philippe reference 2499 was purchased by the late father of the present owners in the early 1960s in Caracas, Venezuela, and is entirely fresh to the market.