Chronograph pushers don’t get better. The 1463 was Patek’s first water resistant chronograph, succeeding the previous and iconic 530 chronograph in 1940. The improvements were characterized by a larger, modern case, rounded pushers, and a screw-down back. Some call this Patek’s first ‘sports’ watch, though it is a bit of a stretch. That case was manufactured by Francois Borgel with some delightfully intricate, fluted, and oversized chronograph pushers to accomplish water resistance. As with most watches, the Italians got to naming it first: ‘Tasti Tondi’ (tondi meaning round pushers in Italian). Since then, the reference has achieved a grail-like status and justly so.
That status comes not just from the pushers, but 35.5mm masculine proportion, low production volume, movement finishing, and handsomely restrained dial. It is estimated that only 750 examples were produced across all metals. This 18k yellow gold case makes up an estimated half the production. For its time, the reference was groundbreaking. The combination of complication and practicality was a complete first. There’s even a small, early-design internal dust protector for its manual caliber 13-130 and its 23 jewels (based on a Valjoux 23). Just a fun detail amongst many. Collecting is made more interesting here by the wide range of dial variations on offer, everything from Breguet to Roman. This latter production dial omitted railway minute divisions, a slightly cleaner aesthetic. There’s much to love in Patek of this era, but particularly so in chronographs.
That appeal has seen a wide range of thoughtful collectors drawn to the 1463. Carroll Shelby owned one. So too did Briggs Cunningham. Even Eric Clapton was seduced. It was something of the last of an era. The 1463 ceased production in 1968. It was only in 1998 that the line was resurrected with the Lemania-era 5070; Patek went three decades without a manual waterproof chronograph offer. As such, the Tasti Tondi was the last of the old guard, a very innovative and very attractive chronograph that even Patek Philippe couldn’t offer a following act to.
The 1463 is defined by its case and this one is, thankfully, well-preserved. The lugs are robust, though not perfect. Its case shows only light to moderate surface wear on its exterior. The dial is without fault to my eye. It comes with an extract of archives from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this 1463 here from Herschmann for 179000 CHF.