Jewellery, Watches, Antiquities and Objects of Vertu (24 November 2020)
Date of Auction: 24th November 2020
Sold for £2,200
Estimate: £2,000 - £3,000
FootnoteThe Extract from the Archives of Patek Philippe, dated 28th September 2020, confirms the watch was manufactured in 1903 and originally sold on 2nd May 1905.
The Gondolo collection was named after the famous retailer in Rio-de-Janeiro, Gondolo & Labouriau, with whom Patek Philippe enjoyed a strong and successful business relationship between 1872 and 1927. The bond resulted in the creation of timepieces - designed exclusively for the Brazilian retailer - named the Chronometro Gondolo. The collection initially consisted only of pocket watches, before the first wristwatch appeared in the 1920s.
At a time when Europe struggled with lean years and faced a World War, it was Gondolo & Labouriau alone who retailed close to a third of the entire production of Patek Philippe watches. Gondolo timepieces are now some of the most coveted by collectors. The watches were originally sold to members of their exclusive club, the “Gondolo Gang”. Consisting of Brazilian high-society, each member was required to buy one pocket watch which retailed for 790 Swiss francs. Clients would pay 10 francs per week until the watch was fully paid for, however Gondolo Labouriau held weekly drawings so that the first week’s winner received his watch for free, while the second week’s winner had paid 10 francs and so on until the 79th week’s winner, at this point remaining members were required to pay the full retail price. This clever system not only helped sell watches but allowed their private club members to gamble - which was illegal at the time - but not enforceable for private organisations.
The Chronometro Gondolo pocket watches, were made in nine different sizes and at first were most remarkable owing to their simplicity and lack of pretension. Of all the technical features required for a movement to officially be a ‘Chronometro Gondolo’, it was the gear-train of 9ct gold that was the most distinctive. Second to this was the requirement to have an ‘ébauche’ (movement-blank) which was based on a drawing by Jean-Adrien Philippe (1815-1894) patented in the US on 13th January 1891.