Patek Philippe & Co a Geneve No. 4254 “Two Monarchs”, watch from the Great Exhibition, London 1851

Patek Philippe & Co a Geneve No. 4254 “Two Monarchs”, watch from the Great Exhibition, London 1851

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Description of the Patek Philippe & Co a Geneve No. 4254 “Two Monarchs”

The Two Monarchs Patek Philippe & Co. à Genève, No. 4254, made for the Polish market in 1850, sold on April 15, 1852. Extremely rare and very fine 18K gold keyless watch with early Philippe winding/setting system, accompaneied by the Extract from the Archives.


Four-body, “bassine et filets”, the back finely engraved with the statue of the first two rulers of Poland – Duke Mieczyslaw I and his son King Boleslaw Chrobry, after Christian Rauch’s sculpture built around 1840 for the Poznan Cathedral, scrolling and floral border, reeded band, gold hinged cuvette.


White enamel, radial Roman numerals, outer minute divisions, subsidiary sunk seconds between 4 and 5 o’clock, secured by two small screws. Blued steel Breguet hands.


40 mm. (18’’’), Cal 10, frosted gilt, hanging barrel with Geneva stop work, cylinder escapement, three-arm brass balance with flat balance spring, 3rd Philippe winding/setting system. Signed on dial, case and movement, movement also punched with the maker’s trademark under the dial.

Diameter: 45 mm

The design was chosen by Patek Philippe to represent their achievements at the first Universal Exhibition in 1851 in London. The motif is rare and well executed; only three other watches with it are known (two of them (younger) are in the Patek Philippe Museum – No. 8190 and 9134). This is also one of the very small number of early Patek Philippe watches to be signed four times, the movement being signed on both sides. Mieczyslaw I (Mieszko I) circa 922–992, was duke of Poland from 962 to 992. In 966 he accepted Christianity and undertook the conversion of Poland. Late in his reign he placed Poland under the protection of the pope, thus gaining papal support of Polish integrity. His was succeeded by his son Boleslaw (Boleslaus). Boleslaw Chrobry (Boleslaus the Brave), circa 966–1025, Polish ruler from 992 to 1025, the first to be called king. He ranks among Poland’s foremost rulers, having reorganized the administration, systemized taxation, and created a large standing army. Shortly before his death he was crowned king with the approval of the Holy See.

The Great Exhibition London 1851

The Great Exhibition was the first international exhibition of manufactured products and was enormously influential on the development of many aspects of society including art and design education, international trade and relations, and even tourism.

Following a series of increasingly popular public exhibitions, which attempted to educate the public’s taste by showing the best of British manufactured goods, Henry Cole visited a similar exhibition in Paris. He decided to persuade Prince Albert to make the next British exhibition in 1851 an international one, in order to expose British design to foreign competition.

This was not universally welcomed. It faced opposition from people who wanted to keep out foreign competition and from those who objected to building in Hyde Park (their one success was to force the organizers to agree that it be a temporary site). The design of the building was offered to open competition, and the eventual winning design by Joseph Paxton was opened on schedule on 1 May 1851. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert presided over the grand opening ceremony. The Great Exhibition was estimated to have been attended by over six million people.

The story of Queen Victoria’s Patek Philippe watch from Great Exhibition in 1851 in London – “sister of Patek Philippe & Co a Geneve No. 4254 “Two Monarchs”

Queen Victoria acquired her first Patek Philippe watch at the Great Exhibition in 1851, but the story of the watch started seven years previously

In 1851, at the Great Exhibition in London’s Hyde Park, Queen Victoria acquired one of Patek Philippe’s first keyless watches. Attracted to Patek Philippe’s innovative keyless winding system, which was greatly ahead of its time, she chose a powder-blue pocket watch. It was named after its patent number, No. 4536, and decorated with diamonds and a feminine, floral motif.

The story of Queen Victoria’s watch actually starts seven years earlier in Paris, at the French Industrial Exposition of 1844, where Antoine Norbert de Patek first met French horologist Jean-Adrien Philippe. Philippe was at the Paris Exhibition to present his most recent invention, the first keyless winding system suitable for production. Up until then, timepieces had been wound and set with a separate key, which could be lost or incorrectly used.

Although Philippe’s invention at first left Parisian watchmakers unenthused, Patek was interested in what he thought was an ingenious discovery. The two men soon formed a partnership, founding the firm Patek Philippe, which brought together technical and artistic brilliance. The keyless winding system did eventually receive the acclaim it deserved, making the Patek Philippe name renowned the world over.

Queen Victoria’s timepiece of choice was one of the new Patek Philippe keyless winding designs. It was a brooch-style timepiece patented by Philippe in 1845, in which the watch was suspended from a diamond and enamel brooch and worn pinned to clothing. The mechanism, itself executed in gold, was housed inside a yellow-gold and enamel case, and the watch’s face had slim, sleek hands with hollow tips, showing hours and minutes extremely clearly. The watch is inscribed, on the gold dome underneath the hinged lid, with No. 4536, Invention Brévetée de Patek Philippe & Co à Genève. Queen Victoria husband – Albert, chose a suitably masculine gold hunter-cased chronometer with a repeater mechanism that benefited from Patek’s much-lauded stem-winding system.

During the Great Exhibition in 1851 Queen Victoria acquired also other Patek Philippe watches, f.ex. key winding Patek Philippe pocket watch, decorated with diamonds and a feminine, floral motif, No. 4719.

Patek Philippe & Co a Geneve No. 4254 “Two Monarchs” – press informations:

Loyal to their homeland, Patek and the other Poles made sure that people knew that these were Polish watches by decorating them with images from Polish history as well as portraits of Polish national heroes such as Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Prince Jozef Poniatowski or polish, patriotic or religious symbols.

Andrzej Kobos, author of “The Scrolls”, an Internet Cultural Periodical, describes that in London News (no. 31 (279) from 5 of August 1951), polish journalist Piotr Ogrodyniec describes Patek Philippe watches from the Great Exhibition in London (O eksponatach z “krajów nadwiślańskich” (dawnych terenów Rzeczypospolitej) na wystawie światowej w Londynie w roku 1851), paying attention that chronometers he prepared for his Polish clientele were often adorned with images relating to Poland, such as representations of noted Poles or Polish national symbols. As an example he describes “gold chronometr with engraved two polish kings surrounded by eagles as a symbol of polish independence from aggression of neighboring countries”. He describes exactly this watch:

“Najwybitniejszym jednak wystawcą polskim i jedynym, który mógł sobie pozwolić na manifestację swej polskości, był Filip [sic!] Patek, który w Genewie prowadził najznakomitszą wówczas fabrykę zegarków precyzyjnych. Jego repetiery, chronometry, tiktakowe zegarki dla niewidomych, zegarki kalendarzowe, zegarki z ‘sekretami,’ prawdziwe miniaturki o średnicy zaledwie 0.3 cala, wreszcie sensacyjna nowość – zegarki nakręcane bez kluczyka – były prawdziwym ‘clou’ działu szwajcarskiego i jedną z poważniejszych atrakcji wystawy londyńskiej. Oficjalny jej katalog poświęcił niemal dwie stronice opisowi i wizerunkom eksponatów patkowskich – zaszczyt niezwykły wobec rozmiarów wystawy. I właśnie wśród tych rycin znajdujemy złoty chronometr, na którego emaliowanej kopercie widnieje znany pomnik Mieczysława I i Bolesława Chrobrego z katedry poznańskiej, czterema białymi orłami obrzeżony. Jedyny to bodaj protest polski na tej wystawie światowej, na której nawet imię Polski starano się wymazać.”

Patek Philippe & Co a Geneve No. 4254 “Two Monarchs” was sold in 2003 in Antiquorum auction house during a famous, thematic auction of watches made for Polish market, organized by Waldemar Ferri Szczerbowski. Patek Philippe & Co a Geneve No. 4254 “Two Monarchs” was acquired for over 20.000 CHF + taxes and was one of the auction stars. After 13 years the watch was purchased by Atelier Tempus, who described and announced the history of the watch, discovering that this particular watch took part in Great Exhibition in 1851 in London. After Atelier Tempus’ research, the watch in 2003 became very interesting, collectible, rare and unique. All together Patek Philippe produced 3 watches with the motif of “Two Monarchs”. Presented by Atelier Tempus No. 4254 was the first ever produced, specially made for the Great Exhibition in 1851 in London. Other two were produced several years later, and now both are exhibited in Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.

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