The thirteen Patek Philippe’s watches, which had belonged to renowned collector Henry Graves Jr., will be auctioned at Sotheby’s on June 14, in New York. Neither one of these timepieces has ever been released or appeared on the market which makes them highly valuable. “It’s like finding a dozen Picassos from the finest Picasso collector sitting in a closet,” explained John Reardon, Sotheby’s head of watches in New York.
These watches belonged to Graves’s grandson Reginald “Pete” Fullerton, Jr., who died last month. Succeeding the grandfather’s passion, he has also assembled a great collection of 41 Patek Philippe’s and Breguet’s wristwatches which will also be auctioned at Sotheby’s, together with Mr. Graves’s precious pieces.
Henry Graves (1868-1953) was a passionate fan of haute horology who collected about 40 remarkable timepieces over four decades and some of them even entered the history of watchmaking. His 1933 Patek Philippe “The Henry Graves Supercomplication” was sold for phenomenal $11 million at Sotheby’s in 1999, which is the highest price that one timepiece has ever reached at an auction.
We are expecting to see the price that its yellow gold barrel-shaped, minute-repeating wristwatch by Patek Philippe will reach at the upcoming auction. Engraved with his family’s coat of arms, featuring the Latin motto “Esse quam videri” (“To be, rather than to seem.”), this great piece is estimated from $600,000 to $800,000.
The second most precious item from the collection is 18 karat gold Patek Philippe’s Minute Repeater pocket watch which was the present Graves gave to his son-in-law, at his daughter Gwendolyn’s wedding, on June 5, 1926. The watch that sounds the same almost a century after it was made, has the estimated price from $40,000 to $60,000.
Among iconic pieces from the Fullerton’s collection, there are 11 perpetual calendar watches by Patek Philippe, from the 1950s to the 1990s. When Fullerton bought his first major wristwatch back in 1960, it cost $1,000. Today, the estimated price for this valuable prototype of the Patek Philippe’s popular reference 2497 goes from $200,000 to $300,000.
Another perpetual calendar model (reference 3450) with an unusual white enamel dial which this collector won at Sotheby’s in 1990 for $41,000 is currently estimated from $200,000 to $300,000.
Fullerton kept all the watches in leather boxes near his room, winding them once a day, Reardon said. Within 24 hours after he wound them up for the last time, they stopped.