Rare Patek Philippe Cloisonné Enamel 'Tropical Oasis' Dial Watch to Be Offered at Christie's New York

Collectors of rare watches are not only attracted to complex mechanisms but also exquisite designs. The watch we are introducing today- the Patek Philippe 18k pink gold wristwatch Ref.2481 is perhaps one of the most highly detailed watches in terms of dial design. The watch has a cloisonné enamel dial that depicts a mesmerising tropical landscape. It will be on sale in New York with an estimate of US$600,000 - 800,000. 

Patek Philippe Ref. 2481 18k Pink Gold Wristwatch with Center Seconds and Polychrome Cloisonné Enamel 'Tropical Oasis' Dial

Patek Philippe, one of the most renowned and traditional watch manufacturers, is famous for its tourbillon, perpetual calender and minute repeater watches. Yet, our star today- ref. 2481, has none of the above functions. Its cloisonné enamel "Tropical Oasis" dial is where its value lies.

Wristwatches fitted with cloisonné enamel dials take a prominent position in terms of beauty, craftsmanship and rarity. Patek Philippe made an exceedingly small number of "time only" wristwatches where highly detailed and incredibly artistic cloisonné enamel dials were fitted. In fact, this ref.2481 watch dial is made with a much sought-after earlier kind of cloisonné enamel technique.

Images on the dial are arranged with thin gold wires

Patel Philippe Ref.2523 18K gold two crown world time wristwatch with 24 hour indication and cloisonné enamel dial depicting the North American continent

In the 1940s, Patek Philippe was already experimenting with cloisonné dials with a few pocket watches. This technique requires highly skilled enamel artists. First, an outline of the desired motif is arranged with thin gold wires on the dial. Then the partitions are filled with enamel powder of the desired colour. After that, the dial is fired in an oven at around 1000 degrees Celsius. After being hand-polished to obtain a flat surface, the design is completed.

The dial was made by one of Patek Philippe's best enamel artists Marguerite Koch. Some of the most spectacular examples of Patek Philippe dials, including the ref.2523 World Time watch, also came from her hand. 

Henri Rousseau's The Dream (1910) is one of his paintings with a jungle theme

The Tropical Oasis design is said to be inspired by two of the most prominent French painters- Rousseau and Gauguin's jungle-themed paintings.The scene is a dreamlike landscape where two palm trees flank either side of the dial, gracefully bowing over the blue sea and exotic fruits below. The blue and yellow represent the ocean and the beach.

Although covered with colourful enamel, the dial has large Roman numerals on four points of the watch which makes reading the time relatively easy.  

Ref. 2481 was officially introduced into the market in 1950, after WWII. Its case shape is similar to that of the "King of Watches", the Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 which was released in the same year. Their cases features long claw lugs and a rare concave band. The movement caliber was a new model created by Patek Philippe in 1949 named 27 SC. “27” is its diameter in millimeters and “SC” stands for Seconde Centrale.

The Ref. 2481 measures at 37mm in diameter, making it one of the largest vintage Patek Philippe watches ever produced. The French president in the 1960s- Charles de Gaulle, the former president of Yugoslavia- Marchal Tito and the former King of Saudi Arabia- Saud bin Abdul Aziz had all worn examples of the watch. King Saud liked the watch so much that he ordered almost 150 of them for gifts. 

King Saud's ref. 2481 has his image on the dial 

There are only six examples of ref. 2481 with a combination of rose gold and cloisonné jungle dial known. This watch is the earliest of them as well as the earliest of all watches from this series.

Other rare Patek Philippe watches will also be offered at this sale, including the Rolex Daytona with “Paul Newman” dial. Highlighted lots are introduced below.

Highlighted lots

Patek Philippe Ref. 2481 18k Pink Gold Wristwatch with Center Seconds and Polychrome Cloisonné Enamel 'Tropical Oasis' Dial 

Lot no.: 100
Produced in: 1950
Estimate: US$600,000 - 800,000

Patek Philippe Ref.1463 Stainless Steel Chronograph Wristwatch with Bracelet 

Lot no.: 92
Produced in: 1958
Estimate: US$350,000 - 550,000

Rolex Ref. 6239 Stainless Steel Chronograph Wristwatch ''Paul Newman'' Dial, retailed by Linz Brothers, Dallas, 1968 

Lot no.: 32
Produced in: circa 1968
Estimate: US$300,000 - 500,000

Patek Philippe Ref. 3448 18k White Gold Automatic Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch with Moon Phases and Bracelet 

Lot no.: 94
Produced in: 1969
Estimate: US$300,000 - 500,000

Vacheron Constantin Ref. 4261 18k Gold Minute Repeating Wristwatch with Two-Tone Dial 

Lot no.: 13
Produced in: 1954
Estimate: US$300,000 - 500,000

Auction details

Auction house: Christie's New York
Sale: An Evening of Exceptional Watches
Preview: 3 - 5 June 2019|10am - 5pm
Sale date: 6 June 2019|6pm