The replica Patek Philippe is one of the popular watches right now. Prices for relatively standard examples have gone up substantially in the last two years, with collectors eventually catching on to both the watch’s historical value. However, then there’s an entire other genre of 2526 – the crazy watch.
The mania for special and unusual 2526s can likely be dated back to 2013, when Christie’s sold a white gold 2526 with a really strange bracelet and a black lacquer dial studded with diamond hour markers. That amazing watch, valued at a cheap price, held the record for the world’s most expensive 2526 until earlier this month when a Tiffany-signed example in platinum. The formula isn’t hard to figure out: Traits such as a unique dial, an atypical bracelet, and a rarer case metal can conspire to produce a watch that’s just different enough as to be exponentially more desirable than a standard example.
It is extremely unlikely that the watch we have here will break any of these records – almost impossible, actually – but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to attract so many excited bidders. Lot 814 in the upcoming Phillips Hong Kong auction is a yellow gold 2526 with a brick-style bracelet with a signed fake watches Patek clasp and a black lacquer dial with gilt and mirrored Arabic numerals. Per the Phillips listing, it seems that this is a unique piece created on special order by a good client.
I did some digging into the watch’s past and requested the full condition report from Phillips, so I could get a complete picture of the piece. To begin with, we can be confident that this dial is, in fact, original – the replica Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives confirms a “Black dial, [with] gilt Arabic hour markers” was born on the watch in 1953. However, we also learn that the bracelet was a later addition, as this piece was sold with a leather strap. That said, it’s a great match and a genuine Patek bracelet, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that. If you want to be really fussy, I guess you could put it back on a strap, but I have no idea why you’d want to.
As far as condition goes, the watch is in good and honest condition. The case hallmarks are intact, the lugs still have their shape, the double-P crown is original, and the watch hasn’t been overly polished. The dial doesn’t show any serious damage – something more often see on the enamel dial version of the 2526 – but there is some wear around a few of the Arabic numerals if you look closely.
It’s also worth knowing that this watch was acquired by the current owner at a Christie’s auction in November 2012. However, this watch is absolutely less flashy than some of the other top-dollar 2526 examples, so it will be interesting to see where the hammer actually falls this time around. The watch carries a really cheap price, meaning it could easily end up being one of the two or three most expensive versions of this timepiece ever sold.