Antiques & The Arts
Patek Philippe Calibre 89 – Up close with a legend – Sotheby’s Geneva auction

Patek Philippe Calibre 89 – Up close with a legend – Sotheby’s Geneva auction

Hello and today we have the privilege of
bringing to you a special report on one of the most iconic watch of all time: the calibre 89, one of the most complicated watch ever produced by
Patek Philippe with no less than 33 complications and listen to this, made up
of 1728 components and weighing an astounding 1.1 kilogram. This timepiece
was secretly developed by a special team of Patek Phillipe during the 1980s and
the goal was to mark the brand’s 150 anniversary in 1989. Four calibre 89 were
produced; white gold version, steel version, a platinum one and the one put on
auction by Sotheby’s today is the first one of the lot in yellow gold. I
used the word “iconic” before and what I meant by that is that this timepiece
has really marked the beginning of a new era for watchmaking and I also just
wanted to mention that when Patek Phillipe went down that development
route, it was quite an entrepreneurial risk. It wasn’t built for a specific
customer. It was a very long and quite revolutionary way of working and Patek
was not the Patek we know today. So this naturally triggered a huge
interest and changed quite other things for the industry. Ok, enough of my
blahblah and let’s now listen to the story and just for info we’ll also cover
some other interesting lots in the second part of this video report. Enjoy! In 1979, ten years before the 150th
anniversary, Phlippe Stern had a meeting with some of his directors at Patek Philippe to discuss planning for the anniversary which would be in ten years.
They talked about different models they were going to make and at that time the
idea was to make a replica of the Henry Graves super complication. They were
talking about it and apparently Max Stubber who was the technical director of
the factory and was quite famous suggested that why stop there, let’s go
and do something even more complicated. So they started in earnest
the planning and designing of it in 1980 and what remains extremely
interesting about this watch is that it’s a bridge between the past and the future. And it Philippe Stern’s on words at the time it when it was finished in 1989, it
absolutely reinvigorated Patek Philippe at that point they were far more
interested and tapping into the marketing side of their name and they
hadn’t done that before. So this was something that caught the attention
of the entire world when it came out. It is essentially one and a half times the size of the Henry Graves and it has 33 complications. It
was designed by a special project team, as they were called, which consisted of
engineers headed by Jean-Pierre Musy, who had newly joined the firm and Paul
Buclin, who was a master watch maker. He had been handed the baton
by Max Burney, who was the master watch maker before him and he had felt that he
was getting on in years and this was a project that he felt was for a younger
person. They weren’t that collaborative in the beginning because I think the
watchmakers were suspicious of the engineers and the engineers were
suspicious of a watchmakers and in fact they were on two different floors and
paddocks which ultimately by the time the project was completed there was a
complete collaboration between the two sides and they ended up on the same floor next
to each other working together in a collaborative way and I think that’s a
wonderful story. The feeling is that the technology that they
availed themselves of in 1980 it is what allowed them to produce a
watch that had nine complications more. nine horological complications more than the
Graves super complication but the fascinating thing is that they didn’t
have any drawings. They went to the archives there were no drawings so they
had nothing to go on because watchmakers essentially
they work out of their head. So naturally the watchmakers have all gone, it was 56
years earlier if you count from the beginning of the project, but
luckily then a curator of the Patek Phillipe collection, which would then
become the museum, Allen Banbury had recently brought Henry Graves super
complication from Rockford, Illinois from the time museum to Geneva and he had
personally hand carried it with a stipulation of Ceph Atwoods. They
generated something like two thousand drawings which then had to be put into
the computer, so it was an early very early use of CAD and I think that’s
what’s so interesting. The Graves used the technology that was available in the 20s
and the caliber 89 used the technology available at that time.
1989 Patek Phillipe would make one or two complicated wrist watch models at a time, you would have the 1518, retired, followed by the 2499, which
was also retired, then they might have had the 2497 at the same time or the 1526
but the maximum would be two models. n Then those were retired
finally, the 2499 and that was when for the anniversary in addition to this the
3970 was introduced in in honor of the anniversary as well as a 3940 and what
was also interesting was that they introduced the 3974, which is the
perpetual minute repeater and the 3939 which is the minute repeater with tourbillon
on and then one minute repeater, so that in itself is a staggering that Patek
Phillipe would present such a wealth of complicated watches and I think
it generated a new interest. The collectors market of wristwatches was in its infancy. It really started around 1979 and 1980 and then by
1986 it had come into its own and we started to see prices in the five
figures range for 1518’s, 2499’s, then you have the caliber 89 and 150th anniversary and all of a sudden there was a groundswell of enthusiasm.
The special models that they were creating were just immediately over
oversubscribed, everybody was talking about Patek Phillipe at that point. It’s
kind of from the caliber 89 is this Renaissance of watchmaking in
Switzerland, not just for Patek Philippe, but for Audemars, for Vacheron, for every brand that gave birth to the
independent maker such as François-Paul Journe, Franck Muller, but they were
all sorts of out there alone and as a result the business has grown
tremendously, needless to say. It is a magnificent piece of machinery without any question and it really has a presence, it has a definite, it makes a
statement and to this day it is one of Patek Philippe or if not THE
preeminent mechanical ambassador for the brand. I feel very honored for Sotheby’s
that we are offering this now and it’s just historically, mechanically,
it’s just the right time and it’s such a special piece. Yes quite an inspiring and
incredible timepiece and I can promise that when you hold it in your hands, well
this timepiece feels really dense, it’s quite something and naturally if you’re
interested in going a bit crazy well the estimates is set around 6.5 to 10 Million dollars. So best of luck to you!
So anyhow there are some other interesting lots put on auction, so let’s
slightly change categories and get our feet smoothly back down to earth, well
kind of. We shall talk about this very exceptional Cartier Tank, which was
designed by Louis Cartier in 1917, so we celebrate this year the 100th
anniversary of the Cartier Tank. This Cartier Tank is very special because it’s all in
platinum and we do have a certificate that certifies the authenticity and also
the platinum bracelet. We have a beautiful cream-colored dial and the
typical sapphire cabochon. It is from the 1930s. And now we’re going to
talk about something a bit unusual and in the world of Rolex because not
everybody is accustomed to the fact that Rolex did other watches prior to the oyster.
Yes exactly so we have this beautiful Rolex Imperial, which is a
pocket watch that Rolex manufactured in 1930 and it has this very special
two-tone dial and it has actually an enamel minute
track. So this was very unusual and you can see that when Rolex decided to do
this, they first called it Imperial. They really put everything top quality
in there, the dial is beautifully finished, the movement is a manual wound
movement. It’s really beautifully finished and it’s very as you said
unusual for Rolex to see a pocket watch and we are in 1930s and you can see that
look was quite avant-garde for this time. Let’s go another few years up the ladder
with also something very special and unusual. Exactly, we have this
beautiful chronograph also by Rolex. It is surnamed Gabu and why Gabu? Because it was
the case was manufactured in Le Locle and the manufacture was Gabu Frères and it
still holds up to today the nickname Gabu. What is special with this watch is the dial called “argenté grainé” and you can see that
it is not white, it’s not gray, it’s really special and also obviously the angular shape is
unusual for Rolex. We are used to the round shape and also the quantities as our belief is
that there were only fewer than 50 pieces made of the Rolex Gabu. So a rare
beautiful piece by ROLEX. But now we’re going to talk about something
not necessary traditional but something again we’re a bit more accustomed to but
this is a very fine example of an original GMT. Exactly so we have the Rolex GMT Master, Reference 60542 which was the first GMT
master reference which we all know that was produced in collaboration with the
Pan Am pilots to show simultaneously two time zones and what is special about
this particular model is that it has this beautiful aged tropical dial which is
basically what we see is that it has aged in a particular way. That’s what we
see is the red color from the brass plate of the dial coming through and the
black color particules have faded, so that’s why we have this very nice
tropical look to the dial. Thanks for your time all the best and will
naturally keep you posted on the actual results of the auctions.

57 comments on “Patek Philippe Calibre 89 – Up close with a legend – Sotheby’s Geneva auction

  1. I envy you! for me is more likely to see a living dinosaur🐉 than this watch! as always great 👍 job!

  2. I would buy this watch and wear it with a chain on my neck like rapper Flavor Flav, just to annoy people. F*ck it, I don't give a sh*t! Lol


  3. The claim to the most complicated caliber has been made by others including an obscure watch co once.

  4. This has been one of my favourite videos that you have made. I am quite young but I love vintaje watches so much, I would be happy with that Tank on my wrist, is it normal ? jajajaj anyway congratulations for that video. It has been a top one, well done

  5. does anyone know what the watch is in the background on the poster, from the second part of the youtube?

  6. D'accord c'est super jolie et très technique mais au final à quoi ça sert si ce n'est que pour la cacher dans un coffre fort. Je préférerais garder mon argent dans mon compte bancaire et puis c'est tout.

  7. You are the man Marc!!!
    What an amazing video.
    When I said I was looking forward to seeing you playing with the cal. 89 in the last video it was in theory but you've literally made it. WOW!!
    Something that only The Watches TV can do!! You guys rock!!

  8. Wasn't the Calibre 89 just up for auction at Christie's last year? Seems in poor taste to "flip" it so soon. Suggests the current owner is more concerned about making a quick buck than having a true appreciation for watchmaking or cultivating a world class watch collection.

  9. Calibre 89 is awesome!……….. but why is it all scratched? I'm not talking love marks from polishing it with a cloth. it almost look like someone actually took the piece, put a chain on it and wore the dang thing… crazy. lovely regardless. digging that Rolex chrono.

  10. The watches are amazing but reporter was annoying beacuse of the way how he holded the microphone with right hand into the presenter’s mouth.

  11. At the end of this video, you say you will update us on the auction. There are two videos linked at the end about an auction, but they do not mention the caliber 89. I checked your posted videos back to this one and nothing else seemed obvious as an update to this watch at an auction.

  12. I think you got something wrong. There is a platinum, white gold, yellow gold and rose gold (instead of steel) version 😉

  13. I'm the 89'th comment…I'm the Chosen One.
    If I ever become successful/wealthy enough…I want to buy the Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon reference number 6002 or 5002. Dual faced watch…with the Celestial function facing you…seeing or sensing the greater picture of things and life.

  14. Since Patek guarantees they will service any timepiece they ever made, one has to wonder: How much would they charge to service this "watch?" It beggars the imagination.

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