Ref. 2526 is my favorite Patek Philippe simple watch.
I love classic Patek simple watches, starting from manual winding Ref. 96, 565, 570, 2508, 2509, 2577, to self winding 2551, 2552, 2526 and 3428…… Among them all, my most favorite has been 2526. Created in the golden age of watchmaking, the 2526 is simply a perfect dress watch in my eyes, for its sublime enamel dial with exquisite subtlety of the dimpled sub dial, the majestic dauphine hands with baton indexes, and the timeless watch case that beautifully complements the dial and reminds me of the similarity to the marvelous curves of 2499 and 2438/1, but quite different from 570 and 3448. The PP crown is yet another nice touch. And what a movement, the unprecedented Cal. 12-600, and Cal. 27-460 — only encased in the very last batch of 2526!
Ever after I fell love with 2526, I always thought it’s a great collecting theme for a passionate (and wealthy) collector to amass various metal versions with different dials and unique features. Too bad I cannot afford to build up such an ambitious collection, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming of it. So here we are, my top 10 picks of Patek 2526.
1. Yellow gold, cream-colored enamel dial, movement number 760000
To me, first of all, a 2526 is a yellow gold watch, the most commonly seen incarnation. Ideally, it should be of the first series, the earlier the better. So here it is, the very first 2526, in which the first ever Patek Philippe automatic movement was encased (Cal 12-600 AT starts with serial number 760000). This particular 2526 was made by Patek specially for J.B. Champion, who needs no introduction to the Patek collector community.
2. Platinum, cream-colored enamel dial
Except for the above ultimate yellow gold 2526, the most collectible 2526 for me is a PT with enamel dial. There are very few such 2526s made by Patek. It was well known that platinum 2526s were not available readily to Patek Philippe customers of the era – only obtainable through special order from Patek Philippe. According to my expert friends at Phillips, while the three 18K gold variants of the 2526 were initially offered at US $500, a substantial sum in 1953, the platinum iteration with enamel dial was offered at US $2,500, with an option for a non-enamel dial with diamond hour markers priced at US $3,000. Interestingly, the majority of 2526s in platinum are found with diamond dials – likely because as those clients were already paying such a premium for platinum, they might as well add the extravagance and luxurious touch of a silvered diamond dial.
3. Platinum, silvered matte dial with diamond hour markers
In platinum case, but with the diamonds. Although personally I am not a fan of diamonds on a watch dial, bezel, crown or bracelet (but I absolutely love diamonds in movement, such as a diamond endstone fitted to balance cock), this makes an exception, as it looks magnificent yet still somewhat understated.
4. Pink gold, cream-colored enamel dial with baton and Arabic numerals
A pink gold 2526 is not just rare; it feels like a bit romantic charisma added to the gold. It is surely more desirable.
That said, the yellow gold case of a 2526 actually looks quite like postmodern era rose gold, whether it’s due to the ingredients of the 18k gold made back in 1950s, or just because the watch is more than half century old and it developed a slightly warm hue. From a distance, it may be hard to tell a pink gold 2526 from a yellow gold one. But still, pink gold is pink gold, and its value in a 2526 is undeniable.
The ultimate and most beautiful pink gold 2526 for me is the one with baton and Arabic numerals on enamel dial. This dial configuration works the best for 2526 in pink gold case, and it certainly distinguishes itself from a regular yellow gold 2526 far and beyond.
5. White gold, silvered dial with diamond-set numerals
This is likely the rarest white gold 2526 with silver/cream dial. It looks like a mix-up of two platinum versions above, with a baguette diamond numeral at 12 o’clock, round diamond-set square numerals at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, and the rest being baton indexes. However, in a different sense, it is a pure simple watch with the case, hands and baton indexes all in white gold, while either platinum version is more like a mix-up of metals by having the hands (and baton indexes of the enamel dial version) not in platinum but white gold. We should know that back in 1950s, it was extremely hard for watch manufactures to work on platinum, which explains why there were so few watches made into platinum cases during that time period, not to mention watch hands and hour markers in a much smaller scale.
6. White gold, cream-colored enamel dial
Of all the metals of reference 2526, the white gold is in fact the rarest on the market, even rarer than platinum. Based on my reasoning on the previous white gold 2526, though not as rare, this version here is even more so a pure watch, in material of gold and color white all over. Any serious collection of 2526s won’t be complete without this one. For a modest but proud 2526 collection, this could well be the top lot.
7. Pink gold, black enamel dial
Finally, black dials are coming…
A black enamel dial 2526 obviously grabs every Patek collector’s attention. Such a dial in pink gold case is the apex!
8. White gold, black dial with diamond hour markers
Black dial but white gold case, and diamonds on the (metal) dial. Extravagant and monochromatic at the same time. This is perhaps the “most unique by look” 2526 in flesh.
9. Yellow gold, black enamel dial
Here it goes, the famous black dial 2526 in shining yellow gold. Very much eye catching, the third black dialed 2526 in a row, and we are almost at the end of the list.
10. Yellow gold, enamel dial with Beyer signature, Cal. 27-460 movement
This “Top 10” starts with a yellow gold 2526, and hereby ends with another special one.
A rare find that comes with a very early Cal 27-460 (which starts at No. 1110000), it was delivered to Beyer, similar to the first 25 pieces of 3940, hence it has the prestigious retailer’s signature on the dial. On the other hand, it is probably one of the very last 2526s made by Patek. As it would be advertised by some dealers and auction houses, this is a possibly unique 2526. At the moment, it belongs to yours truly, a happy and lucky owner.
Note the Certificat d’Origine mentions 34 rather than the standard 37 rubis for 27-460. Apparently, Cal 27-460 did evolve quickly at the very beginning of the official production, as witnessed here by this watch and the paper. Soon afterwards came Ref 3428, the successor of the legendary 2526.
There are more variations of 2526 that can certainly be added to the list:
- Pink gold, cream-colored enamel dial
- Yellow gold, enamel dial with luminous hands and hour indexes
- Yellow gold, metal dial with diamond hour markers
- Yellow gold, black lacquer dial with Arabic numerals
- Yellow gold, enamel dial with applied Breguet numerals
- Yellow gold, metal dial with printed verse from the Bible “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You”