A soft light pours from precious crystal chandeliers into the salon filled with elegantly dressed people. In the background, a violinist plays the gentle melody of Mozart’s Nachtmusik. The clink of glasses mixes with the sparkling laughter of the ladies and snatches of conversation in different languages. The scenery is magical, out of this world. In actual fact, we’re cruising between the continents on a huge ocean liner.
But which ship is depicted on the enamel painting on the dial of the ultra-rare “Ocean Liners"? Patek Philippe is not forthcoming. What we do know is that the 2015 “Calatrava" (Ref. 5089G-025) from the Rare Handcrafts collection is part of an exquisite small series with steamship motifs and is also known as “Arrival in Manhattan". The motif is captured in the bold look typical of the Art Deco zeitgeist at the beginning of the 20th century. At that time, there were not many such imposing ocean liners with three prominent red funnels.
The most famous of these was the “Queen Mary”: between 1936 and 1967, she undertook countless journeys between the Old and New Worlds. But would Patek Philippe depict a British ship? Hardly. It is much more likely to be the “Normandie”, a proud French ship that was the largest steamship in the world on her maiden voyage in 1935 and was awarded the Blue Riband several times. The Blue Riband was a trophy bestowed on the passenger ship that clocked the fastest time on the transatlantic route between Europe and New York.
To protect her from the Nazis, she was laid up in New York for a long time. The USA then intended to convert her into a warship in 1942, but a fire broke out in the first-class lounge. The steamer capsized. Nevertheless, the “Normandie” has survived – as the motif of an exquisite dial: you feel yourself seemingly drawn on board, to the upper deck where people are gathering to admire the slowly approaching silhouette of Manhattan. The translucent enamel surface of the water, intimated by delicate shades of blue, is underlaid with guilloché waves. The Manhattan skyline including the Brooklyn Bridge, finished in blue-grey hues in cloisonné enamel, looks fairly sombre against the red chimneys and the white deck of the steamer. Grey and white clouds that seem to rise from the chimneys mingle against a soft sky that promises a glorious day.
In order not to detract from the beauty of the dial, Patek Philippe opted for a simple display with hours and minutes. On the back, the calibre 240 with the decentralised micro- rotor made of 22-carat gold can be seen through the sapphire crystal case back. The 38.6-millimetre diameter model is a charming example of Patek Philippe’s outstanding craftsmanship.
STRIKING THE RIGHT NOTE
They evoke past eras and have proven to be rarities over the years and decades:
a fanfare for our finds!
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