Before extra-large, steel chronographs were all the rage, the first proper million dollar Patek Philippe replica watches reference was arguably the Louis Cottier world time – the refs. 1415 and 2523 fitted with cloisonné dials – being the models that consistently and regularly achieved seven figure prices at auctions, which were mostly Antiquorum sales presided over by Osvaldo Patrizzi in those days.
Starting in the late 1990s, the vintage cloisonné dial world time – usually a double-crown ref. 2523 selling in Geneva – sailed past a million francs and stayed between that and SFr2.0m until the late 2000s. The high watermark came in April 2002 when a buyer, a noted East Asian industrialist according to industry lore, paid a mind boggling SFr6.6m for a ref. 1415 HU in platinum, about US$4m at the time and a record that probably won’t be broken for a generation or two.
Coincidentally, the surge in prices for the vintage world time dovetailed neatly with the artfully-timed launch of the modern day equivalent, the ref. 5110 Patek Philippe copy watches, in the year 2000. And since then the contemporary world time has become a mainstay of the Patek Philippe line-up: the basic model has undergone two facelifts, and the complication has been combined with a chronograph, minute repeater, as well as moon phase.
In the same period, an early ref. 2499 (meaning first or second series) in pink gold cost Patek Philippe limited edition watches about the same as a cloisonné dial world time. Over a decade on, the 2499 has doubled in value, the steel 1518 has quadrupled, and various other watches have gone on to rack up various other records.
The vintage world times, on the other hand, have not enjoyed much buzz or breathless coverage and consequently have only inched up modestly in value, or not at all. In the peculiar world of high-end vintage watches that might make a world time a reasonable proposition relative to everything else, perhaps even a good buy.