What can be said about the Patek Philippe 2523 except that it’s like a ghost. It rarely appears at market to prove its existence, but when it does, just as quickly disappears. Like the Rolex Milgauss Ref. 6541 and the Patek Philippe Ref. 2481, the Ref. 2523 wasn’t appreciated when it was released and considered sort of an odd duck.
Upon its entrance onto the world watch stage in 1953, the Ref. 2523 was an outcast, passed over for other models in the flock. Considered an odd contraption at the time, the world timer was a strange bird and people didn’t know what to make of it.
The small painted city disk representing 24 time zones was just too small and hard to read. Plus, there was a strange crown at 10 o’clock to adjust to times in different cities. Why would anyone need a world time watch anyway when they could add and subtract to cross time zones? Tack on to that the price. Even for a Patek it was considered too expensive at the time. Remember, this was the era of “Father Knows Best”.
The 2523’s city disk printing may have been a tad small, but the complication is a fantastic one for travelers. In fact, the world time mechanism is quite ingenious, invented by watchmaker Louis Cottier. He constructed a city ring that adjusts so that you can tell time in 40 cities around the globe at the same time, a system so clever that many top companies use it in their world timers today. Currently, Patek Philippe has the updated version of the 2523 available, the 5130 and the 5131 with enamel dial. Collectors pay a premium for them. In addition to Patek Philippe, Cottier also made versions of the world time for Vacheron Constantin, Aggasiz and Rolex. Over the course of his lifetime, Cottier only produced about 400 movements of these movements.
Interesting to note, Cottier came up with another watched called the Cobra that Patek Philippe declined to put into production but did put on display in their museum. The independent company URWERK found inspiration in the Cobra for their UR-CC1, affectionately called the Black Cobra.
Now cut to 70 years later and we’ve dumped dear old “Daddy’s” bland aesthetic. Our poor ugly duckling has emerged into a full-fledged and elegant swan, a real beauty. And, not just any swan, but a black swan because of the crazy huge impact the Patek Philippe 2523 has when it surfaces for a brief appearance at auction.
Guess what, the stars have aligned and this unbelievable event has happened again: a 2523 is coming to market at Christie’s on June 13th. You’ve got to realize, this piece isn’t just a holy grail. It’s one of THE holy grails, the apex of a lifetime of collecting. Kings and Queens would rank this timepiece among their crown jewels. Again Christie’s has captured the 2523 ghost, if only for a short moment. Don’t miss your chance to grab it on this rare occasion if you have the means. But you have to be lighting fast to catch this apparition. If you don’t, then there might not be another chance for decades to see this the 2523 again before it vanishes…