Patek Philippe Chronograph Ref. 1463

“S'il n'y avait pas l'étanchéité de l'ennui, le coeur s'arrêterait de battre.” René Char

In this article, we will explore an iconic model from Patek Philippe, placing it within the historical and political context of the 1930s, a decade marked by the Great Depression and global upheavals. This period, from 1930 to 1939, was dominated by a major economic crisis initiated by the Wall Street krach in New York on October 24, 1929. In Europe, this crisis led to a rise of extremes in power, massive investments in rearmament, and a policy of national self-sufficiency.
Two political regimes were in opposition at that time: democratic regimes and authoritarian regimes. The violence of the measures taken by the latter eventually led to World War II. Sociologically, the post-World War I and the global economic crisis marked the development of an increasingly urbanized mass culture.

The impact of the global economic crisis was felt by watch retailers through a lack of customers, a fall in foreign currencies, and a devaluation of goods. For example, Beyer Chronometrie, Switzerland's oldest retailer, survived thanks to its strong business relationships, support from brands and banks, and rent reduction by its landlord.
Every watch brand also had to find strategies to cope with this economic decline and cultural changes. This started with responding to an increasing demand for more "sporty" watches capable of withstanding the elements.

In 1932, brothers Jean and Charles Henri Stern acquired shares in "Patek Philippe & Cie". Patek Philippe then sought to adapt to the economic constraints of the market and respond to the demand for items more suited to everyday activities. The company also witnessed the success of its competitor Rolex with its first waterproof steel wristwatch, the "Oyster", produced in 1926.
To compete, Patek Philippe designed the reference 565 in 1939, its first series of waterproof watches. The manufacture called on the company "Taubert & Fils", a leader in the production of waterproof cases and steelwork thanks to its adapted machinery.


Aside: In 1924, Taubert acquired the company Borgel, a watch case manufacturer renowned for having filed a patent for waterproof cases as early as 1892. Leveraging Borgel's reputation, Taubert & Fils continued to use the Borgel name in its advertisements and engraved the watch cases with François Borgel's initials (FB), accompanied by the Geneva key.

Marque de fabrique déposée - With the courtesy of

In the restrictive context of the interwar period, Patek Philippe introduced in 1940 its first waterproof chronograph, produced in a very limited edition (750 pieces until the late 1960s, with an average production of 21 pieces per year). This watch became an icon and remained the only series of waterproof chronographs by the brand until 2018, making it even more desirable. Mainly produced in yellow gold, there are also some pieces in steel and rose gold (190 to date).

The major challenges in producing a waterproof chronograph included water resistance of the pushers, requiring sturdy pushers. The first Patek Philippe chronographs (references 130 and 530) had rectangular pushers, but the reference 1463 introduced round, robust pushers with refined finishes, hence the nickname "Tasti Tondi". This term comes from the word "tondo", a Renaissance term for a circular work of art. Etymologically, the term "tondo" comes from the abbreviation of the word "rotondo", meaning round in Italian. The reference to a work of art also comes from its finishes that define the refinement of this piece.

Let's revisit the study of the early chronograph models in Patek Philippe's history.

The first series of wristwatch chronographs, produced from 1934 to 1964, is the reference 130. With a diameter of 33 mm, it was predominantly produced in yellow gold, with 146 models in steel and a few rare ones in rose gold, as rare as the gold-steel configuration. The dial is surrounded by the tachymeter scale and the railroad track for the seconds, giving it a lot of charm.


Introduced in 1937 and produced until 1944, the reference 530 bridged the gap between models 130 and 1463. With a 36.5 mm case, it was mainly manufactured in yellow gold, with a few pieces in steel and two known pieces in rose gold (one with the double signature "Gobbi Milano" and the other with the double signature "Astrua Torino"). Initially, the watch was not designed to be a chronograph, and some pieces can be found without this complication. Another notable stylistic point is the variation in the width of the lugs, ranging from 19 to 21.5 mm depending on the models, although the two rose gold pieces have lugs fixed at 19 mm.

The reference 1463 is the first series of waterproof chronographs with round pushers, produced from 1940 to 1965. With a diameter of 35 mm, this reference stood out with its fluted pushers and a two-tone dial for better readability. With its very thick case back for water resistance, the 1463 has a very distinct and recognizable profile.

Among the most sought-after configurations of reference 1463 are silver dials, black dials, dials with Breguet numerals, as well as double signatures from authorized Patek Philippe retailers (Tiffany & Co in New York, Hausmann in Rome, Trucchi in Naples, or Beyer in Zurich). Another sought-after feature is tritium on the hands and index, long before it became widespread on modern dials.


The reference 1563, an extremely rare variant, is known for its split-seconds complication. It also retains the "Tasti Tondi" name (Note: modern chronographs with fluted pushers do not have this designation). Only three pieces have been traced, two sold by Christie’s and a third currently at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, making these models even more precious.

The history of Patek Philippe and its chronographs from the 1930s and 1940s is rich in innovations and responses to the economic and cultural challenges of the time. The references 130, 530, 1463, and 1563 are testimonies to the ingenuity and horological excellence of Patek Philippe, making these pieces highly coveted collectibles.

Corrado Mattarelli presents an exceptional reference with a double signature from Beyer Zurich. Its patinated dial has changed from the original silver to an elegant two-tone rose champagne and opaline. This watch has another distinctive feature: straight-profile lug ends, a characteristic generally reserved for steel models, likely due to a special order placed directly by Beyer.

Author: Fiona Galati