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Golay Spierer  - The Napoleon Bonaparte watch

Golay Spierer The Napoleon Bonaparte watch

A unique piece on sale at Sotheby's from 8 to 15 October.

Sotheby’s October watch auctions in Geneva will be highlighted by a completely unique and unprecedented concept timepiece: a one-of-a-kind hand-crafted wristwatch incorporating the original signature of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, created by independent Swiss watchmaker Golay-Spierer.

The watch, which was painstakingly assembled in Golay-Spierer’s Geneva workshop, includes in its dial the original handwritten signature of the famous statesman and military commander, dating from a letter he wrote in March 1807. The watch is the first in a new series by the manufacture: “Heroïca Tempus”, a planned capsule collection of unique watches, each including in its design the signature of an important historic figure. 

The Napoleon Bonaparte watch will be offered in a single-lot online sale, open for bidding from 8-15 October, with no reserve and an estimate of CHF 40,000 –80,000. A portion of proceeds from the sale will support the work of two non-profit organizations: Footballeurs sans Frontières, which funds projects for underprivileged children, and Aua Help Noma, which works to support children suffering from the debilitating disease, noma. 


The unique “Napoleon Bonaparte” watch is encased in stunning rose gold, with a generous 46mm dial to accommodate the precious fragment of history: Napoleon’s original signature from a letter he wrote in 1807.

La montre Napoléon Bonaparte

The Napoleon Bonaparte watch © Golay Spierer

The symbolism associated with the famous military commander is echoed in an imperial bee meticulously incorporated into the dial (using the traditional Swiss craft known as ‘decoupage’), as well as on the hand-engraved bezel, which bears a laurel wreath and the letter ‘N’ at 12 o’clock. The back of the watch is set with a 20-franc gold Napoléon coin, minted in 1807, the same year as the original handwritten letter which was used to create the dial.


This first piece in the ‘Heroïca Tempus’ collection was born from the meeting between Christophe Golay and French designer and creator Gaël Bonnel Sanchez. A direct descendant of Swiss master watchmaker Auguste Golay, Christophe Golay reignited a centuries- old family tradition when in 2001, he founded Golay-Spierer, the only Swiss watchmaking company specializing in the design and manufacture of unique tailor-made timepieces.

La montre Napoléon Bonaparte

Gaël Bonnel Sanchez © Golay Spierer

"Our mission is to create bespoke timepieces working with the finest watchmaking craftsmen to bring to life the individual visions of our clients," said Mr. Golay ahead of the sale. "This beautiful Napoleon watch is a perfect example of this: an exclusive piece reflecting a singular innovative vision. We are already working on the next watch, bearing the original signature of Albert Einstein, and with any signature as our starting point, we are very excited to be able to build on this adventure, working with collectors to bring their visions to life."

La montre Napoléon Bonaparte

The Napoleon Bonaparte watch © Golay Spierer

"We are delighted to have been entrusted with this watch: the only one of its kind,and made in the workshops of Golay-Spierer-arecognized mark of quality and craftsmanship," Mikael Wallhagen, Head of Watches for Sotheby’s in Geneva, added. "In a sense, this unique piece allows its wearer to travel back through time.

La montre Napoléon Bonaparte

The Napoleon Bonaparte watch © Golay Spierer


Sotheby’s leads the worldwide auction market for rare watches, following a season of online successes and innovations. Since the beginning of 2020, the company's watch auctions have brought a combined total of $48 million.

These results were driven by numerous records for modern and vintage wristwatches, historic benchmarks for antique pieces and the strong performance of new auction formats, including the fast and dynamic ‘Watches Weekly’ sales launched in April, which offer an array of quality wristwatches every day. These new sales have proved especially popular with young collectors and have attracted new participants from around the world.


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