Holocaust Survivor & Human Rights Champion Simon Wiesenthal’s Patek Philippe Goes Up For Auction
One of the stand-out lots at this weekend’s Phillips’ Geneva Watch Auction: XV is a rare Ref. 1503 that belonged to Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust survivor who spent his life tracking down Nazi criminals and fighting antisemitism.
Visitors to the watch auction circuit in Geneva this weekend will have little time to catch their breath after the final hammer falls at today’s Royal Oak 50th Anniversary sale by Phillips because the house (in association with Bacs & Russo) will quickly follow that auction up by hosting The Geneva Watch Auction: XV on Saturday, May 7th, and Sunday, May 8th, at the Hôtel La Réserve.
With no fewer than 200 lots up for grabs, The Geneva Watch Auction: XV promises to be a real cracker. Highlights include a yellow-gold Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239 that belonged to Eric Clapton, a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 1518 in pink gold with pink dial, a trio of Vacheron Constantin Ref. 222 in various metals. Plus, there is an F.P.Journe Octa Zodiaque “Piece Unique” and a first-generation Lange 1.
Special Watch Owned by a Special Person
However, one watch at the auction stands out not just for the rarity of its specifications but for the humanity and determination of its former owner. Lot 212, a 1941 Patek Philippe Ref. 1503, was the personal watch of Jewish Holocaust survivor and human rights campaigner Simon Wiesenthal.
Born in 1908 in Buchach, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Wiesenthal studied architecture in Prague before his life was thrown into disarray in 1939 by the outbreak of World War II and the persecution of the Nazi regime. Over the next six years, Wiesenthal was ordered to serve time in various concentration camps before being liberated from Mauthausen in 1945.
Post-war, he devoted his life to tirelessly tracking down Nazi criminals and bringing them to justice. He also established the Jewish Historical Documentation Centre in Linz, Austria, where information and documents could be amassed and used in Nazi war crime trials.
Rare Dial Configuration
Made in 1941, his Patek Philippe Ref. 1503 was first consigned at public auction by the Wiesenthal family in 2007, two years after his passing. This weekend’s Geneva auction is the first time it has appeared on the public market since then.
In addition to the historical significance of its former owner, this 1503 is also noteworthy for two reasons. First, there is its glossy black lacquered dial and applied Breguet numerals, the configuration of which Phillips believes there are only two known examples. And second, the teardrop lugs of its 35mm stainless-steel case (which features a two-piece construction with an inner ring to keep the dial and Caliber 12”'120 in place).
Given the values and achievements of Wiesenthal, this Patek Philippe Ref. 1503 is more than just a rare and handsome watch; it symbolizes a relentless fight for justice and a steely resistance to oppression. It goes into the auction with an estimate of CHF 250,000 to CHF 500,000.
The Geneva Watch Auction XV will take place on Saturday, May 7th, and Sunday, May 8th, at the Hôtel La Réserve.
Both sessions begin at 2 pm CET, with Wiesenthal’s Patek Philippe Ref. 1503 set to go under the hammer during Sunday’s session. For more information, please visit the Phillips website.
(Photography by Watchonista)