The Search For John Lennon’s Long-Lost Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 Is Reportedly Over
— 11 September 2023

The Search For John Lennon’s Long-Lost Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 Is Reportedly Over

— 11 September 2023
Randy Lai
Randy Lai

On the off-chance you were wondering: despite their uniformly sacred aura, not all Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronographs are created equal.

A specialty of the famed Genevan Maison throughout the 20th century, that wisdom becomes doubly relevant once you start talking about the Ref. 2499 — a run of 349 complicated watches manufactured between 1951 and 1985.

Described as “one of the greatest family trees in the Swiss watchmaking industry”, the four series of 2499s together embody a near-perfect union between design, mechanical sophistication and miniaturization (on a scale hitherto never attempted) that have made it a constant in the world of watch auctions.

So imagine, if you will, how much more frenzied things become once you add the name ‘John Lennon’.

RELATED: The ‘Imperial’ Patek Philippe Owned By China’s Last Emperor That Hammered For $9.4 Million

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A post shared by Arthur Touchot (@arthur_touchot)

Last weekend, the (increasingly homogenous) worlds of pop culture and luxury watchmaking once again collided when Arthur Touchot — Head of Digital Strategy at Phillips Watches — broke the news that the personal Patek 2499 of John Lennon had been found. “It’s a crazy story,” wrote Touchot (via his private Instagram).

“The watch has basically been sitting in Geneva as a registered stolen item and become the subject of a legal fight between parties trying to prove ownership [of it].”

Thus far, here’s everything we know: the 2499 owned by the revered musician and Beatles founder was originally gifted to him by his wife Yoko Ono in 1980. Reputedly one of three presents — along with a Tiffany & Co flag pin and knit tie, hinting at a double-signed dial — purchased by Ono on the occasion of Lennon’s 40th birthday, there are only two known photographs of him sporting the 2499 prior to his tragic murder that same year.

According to Touchot’s own research (which includes what is effectively a Statement of Claim from the Genevan Court of Justice) Lennon’s watch actually resurfaced some years prior; and has been the subject of an ongoing civil proceeding between its present owner — an Italian collector who contends the watch was acquired lawfully from a now-kaput German auction house for CHF$600,000 (~AU$1.046 million) — and Ono since 2014.

Pictured: A ‘first series’ Ref. 2499 in yellow gold. This example sold at the ‘Geneva Watch Auction: XVII’ for CHF$2.359 million earlier this May.

What is significantly more unclear however is the watch’s provenance for the period between 1980 and the early 2000s. Experts have postulated a couple of theories, with two of the most widely circulated being that it was initially sold to a dealer by the John Lennon estate (who subsequently attempted to reacquire the Patek Philippe); or that it was stolen by Ono’s former chauffeur before finding its way onto the auction circuit.

No matter the outcome of the ongoing Swiss legal proceedings, assuming the endgame is to offer this particular 2499 at auction, it will be crucial for the consignor (and the house that offers it on his/her behalf) to establish an authentic chain of provenance over the past 43 years.

If that comes to pass — and it’s a big ‘if’ — auction watchers might just have another ‘Eric Clapton’ 2499 situation on their hands.

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Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].


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