The Patek Philippe Chronograph, which was included in Sotheby’s “Fine Watches” sale in February 2023, is not just a masterpiece of engineering and design but also has a rich history. This exceptional watch was once worn by Major General Thomas North, who was an American military legend, during his service in the Second World War and in the highest circles of post-war international diplomacy.
When photos of this rare Patek Philippe were received by Tom Heap, a watch specialist at Sotheby’s, he immediately recognized the significance of the piece. Heap identified it as a Reference 533, made between 1937 and 1957, and one of only around 125 in yellow gold. Of these, only 44 are known to exist on the market and only 10 feature a blue enamel sector dial, making this particular piece the 11th of its kind.
Major General North wore and cherished the watch throughout his life, including his role as Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission and his retired duties as Major General. The watch is well-traveled, bearing marks from its travels around the world and has a Swiss gold mark, a French gold mark, and possibly a Brazilian import mark or a retailer stamp on the inside of the case back.
This Patek Philippe Chronograph is not only a stunning piece of engineering and design but is also a piece of history and a reminder of Major General North’s significant contributions to the military and international diplomacy.