I recently was asked to take a look at this old, slightly beat up watch. It had not been worn in may many years, having belonged to the owner's great grandfather. In truth they didn't know if it even worked, but I could see it held some sentimental value. Cracked and almost split in two, the band was basically dead.
I am so lucky to have one of the top 5 watchmakers in the world in my backyard - Andre Fleury and his son, Sasha (blog post to come on these guys later!). Having emigrated many years ago from Switzerland, he began in San Francisco, and eventually moved his workshop to San Rafael, CA. I brought this beauty to him to have him check it out, (as it wasn't ticking) and asked if he could change the battery. "Battery?" he replied..."This is a wind up watch! And its a Patek Philippe most likely made in the 1920-30s era!"
A word about Patek Philippe watches made is 1920-40s...the gold material isn't brass like many modern watches. The casing and components (screws and all) were made of solid gold! When I removed the pins to change and replace the band that I had remade in blue american alligator, I noticed that the pins were slight bent (see pic below)
These bent pins ended up causing a problem, as the screws could no longer go in all the way securely. So we kept them and returned them to the owner, and replaced them with some gold plated ones (for now, until new ones can possibly be made). I made a comment that it's funny the buckle isn't that nice, clearly it was brass and not gold. I soon learned another fun fact from Sasha, Andre's son. At the time, many people didn't even realize the complements (including the buckles) were solid gold. So when a band was replaced (like this one for example), a dishonest jeweler/watchmaker would sometimes keep the old broken bands (with the solid gold buckle) and replace it with a cheaper, brass version. The band the watch had when brought to me was a very old brand, one of three or 4 manufacturers at that time, so I'm pretty sure someone did the old switcharoo at some point a log time ago.
When I called the client to tell her the watch was ready and shared this story, she shared one more fun fact - the original owner of this watch (her husband's great grandfather), was on the board of the Cambell soup company, and was responsible for the red color and can design you still see today! He was a big fan of the Cornell football team and he liked their red team colors.
I love what I do, and I love bringing (and keeping) history alive! Thanks to my clients I get to share in these amazing stories. xo