Now the dust has settled on the £2.3m sale of Eric Clapton’s ultra-rare Reference 2499/100, it may be worth considering its provenance. Media reports on the sale tended to focus on the explosively high numbers and the exclusivity of the Perpetual Calendar Chronograph.
The year was 1987, a year after official production of the 2499/100 had ceased, and Patek’s Philippe Stern had two of the remaining 2499 movements cased in platinum. Fate would eventually bring one of these two platinum 2499s into the hands of Eric Clapton. But there was still some way to go.
It seems that the only two examples of the Ref. 2499 ever cased in platinum were most likely never intended for sale. Rather, they were destined for the private collection of PatekPhilippe, to be put on display at its Geneva museum. Most likely, they were requested by Mr. Philippe Stern for himself as the final and crowning edition to celebrate the 35 year long run of the firm’s so far most iconic complicated model ever made.
Exactly how or why Stern decided to sell one of the platinum 2499′s is not clear — but that is exactly what he did, just a couple of years later, consigning one of the watches to the historical “The Art of Patek Philippe” auction, held in Geneva on April 9, 1989. Fascinatingly, the archives of Patek Philippe list the date of sale of the present watch as April 7, 1989, the Friday prior to the auction which was held on a Sunday. Furthermore, the cataloguing and footnote at the time clearly state that only two examples of this reference were ever made in platinum and that the watch comes directly from PatekPhilippe’s own museum.
And thus the first of only two platinum Patek 2499′s ever made went into the hands of a prominent (though unknown) European Patek collector in April 1989 for a hefty SFr. 418,000. After again changing hands during the latter half of the 1990s (to another of Europe’s most important private watch collectors), this very same platinum Ref 2499 would eventually find its way into the hands of rock star Eric Clapton. As for the the “other” platinum Patek Ref 2499, well, it is still sitting, peacefully and out of the limelight, in thePatek Philippe museum in Geneva. Which when you think about it, might just make Clapton’s Patek worth its eye-watering price-tag.