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Christie's - Icons of Watch Making

Christie's Icons of Watch Making

On Nov. 11, Christie’s Geneva will auction vintage and contemporary timepieces selected according to the firm’s prerogative to only bring out top quality collector’s watches.

The auction, that will take place at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva, will feature the rarest examples in exceptional condition to appeal to the most demanding international connoisseurs.
Comprising 350 lots overall, the sale is led by an exceptionally rare pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases, ref. 2499, manufactured by Patek Philippe in 1957 (estimate: SFr./US$ 1,000,000-1,500,000). With estimates ranging from US$1,500 to more than US$1 million, the sale is estimated to fetch a total in excess of US$ 15 million.

Aurel Bacs, International Head of Christie's Watch Department, commented: “This autumn Christie's Geneva auctions of Important Watches bring together some of the most iconic Patek Philippe models, including chronographs, perpetual calendars, minute-repeaters and travel-time, to name but a few. I am proud that Christie's was entrusted with the consignment of such historic pieces, many of which are offered from the families of their original owners and come to the market for the first time ever”.

Historical Patek Philippe Complicated wristwatches
A section of Christie's Geneva auction is dedicated to Patek Philippe vintage complicated  wristwatches, considered to be the strong-hold of Christie's international watch department.


Constituting approximately one third of the sale, the examples on offer include perpetual calendar wristwatches with chronograph (references 1518 and 2499), perpetual calendar (references 1526, 2497, 2438/1 and 3448), chronographs (references 130, 530 and 1463), split-seconds chronographs (references 1436 and 1563), a travel time ref. 2597, and a minute repeater ref. 2524/1.
Highlighting this section is a 1957 Patek Philippe ref. 2499 second series in pink gold, which comes to the market for the second time since its creation and has been consigned from a distinguished private collection (estimate: SFr./US$1,000,000-1,500,000). Only five other examples of this model in the pink gold second series are known to date. Preserved in time-warp condition, this particular example combines a virtually unpolished case with a sharp definition as crisp as when the watch left the manufacturer nearly 60 years ago.
Another star of the sale is a yellow gold split seconds chronograph ref.1563 manufactured by Patek Philippe in 1947. Only 3 examples of this model are recorded to exist. Originally created for jazz legend Duke Ellington, one of them is permanently exhibited in the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. Equally important, this example is fitted with an exclusive dial design featuring luminescent Breguet numerals (estimate: SFr./US$800,000-1,400,000.)
Aurel Bacs, International Head of Christie's Watch Department: “It is a privilege to be able to offer the unique reference 1563, one of the rarest and most iconic models ever created by Patek Philippe. I was lucky enough to sell both of the other two known examples of this reference, including the watch previously owned by Duke Ellington which now forms part of the collection of the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.”

The best vintage timepieces by Rolex
A selection of more than 100 Rolex vintage wristwatches will be offered at Christie’s Geneva various owners sale on 11 November. 


Articulated in two sub-categories respectively dedicated to sports and tool watches, this section includes some of the most legendary vintage models such as Submariner, Sea-Dweller, GMT-Master, Milgauss and Explorer.
The ‘civilian’ selection is led by two superb examples of Rolex’s most coveted reference: the 6062 - the only Oyster model ever made by Rolex featuring a full calendar and phases of the moon. A 1952 yellow gold example displaying an attractive star dial alongside an extremely rare vintage gold bracelet, widely illustrated and described in the most prominent Rolex literature, comes from a distinguished private collector (estimate: SFr./US$250,000-400,000).
Never seen on the auction market before and offered in unrestored, original conditions, a 1953 stainless version of the same model comes from an important European collection (estimate: SFr./US$220,000-320,000).
Furthermore, the Rolex section includes Part of II of the Palladio Collection. Amassed over 25 years of passionate collecting by a European architect who focused on stainless steel Rolex chronographs, Part I was successfully offered at Christie’s Geneva in May 2013 with many watches sold above estimates demonstrating the collector’s exquisite taste and vision.


Period enamelled pocket watches & rare Breguet timepieces
Amongst the group of period pocket watches is a sumptuous gold, enamel and pearl-set duplex watch made around 1820 for the Chinese market by Bovet. The delicately painted enamel miniature scene is attributed to the celebrated enamellist Jean-François-Victor Dupont (estimate: SFr./US$90,000-140,000).

Christie’s November sale also presents an attractive selection of rare timepieces made between 1802 and 1833 by Breguet, spanning three generations of the celebrated French manufacturers. This section is highlighted by Abraham-Louis Breguet’s very first watch, featuring his signature form of free escapement, the échappement naturel, a revolutionary device developed to achieve very high precision rates without requiring lubrication. The present example was ordered by the Duke of Infantado in a letter dated March 1802 and its construction took nearly four years involving highly expensive development work (estimate: SFr./US$300,000-500,000).
Other examples include one of Breguet’s few ‘Royal Watches’ ever to appear in public which was purchased in 1825 by HRM George IV, King of the United Kingdom (estimate: SFr./US$80,000-120,000), a finely enameled quarter repeating ‘cabriolet’ watch made for the Turkish market in 1819 (estimate: SFr./US$40,000-60,000), and one of the very first watches with keyless winding and hand-setting which was sold by Breguet in 1833 (estimate: SFr./US$15,000-25,000).

A very fine 18k gold, enamel and pearl-set openface duplex watch with enamel attributed to Dupont, made for the Chinese market. Signed Bovet, London, No. 274, Circa 1820


Contemporary limited edition wristwatches
Christie's is proud to offer an exquisite array of ultra-rare contemporary masterpieces. Amongst the highlights of this section, and following the impressive performance of the stainless steel Lange 1 model sold in Spring, Christie’s Geneva has been entrusted with the sale of a most likely unique example of double split seconds flyback chronograph cased in stainless steel, ref. 404.035X by A. Lange & Söhne. This watch was never offered at auction before and was a special order granted only once. Estimated at SFr./US$120,000-180,000, it is considered as one of the ultimate A. Lange & Söhne collector’s models.
Another treat for the lovers of contemporary horology is the spectacular platinum Vingt-8 by Kari Voutilainen (estimate: SFr./US$40,000-60,000). It is only the second time a watch made by this famous watch-maker comes to the auction block, the first having been sold at Christie’s Honk Kong last May.
Numerous rare complications by Patek Philippe will also be on offer, such as a complete set of legendary chronographs ref. 5070 (platinum, yellow, pink and white gold), a complete set of the ‘Advanced Research’ model (references 5250, 5350, 5450 and 5550), two examples of ref. 5970 and the great classic minute repeating, ref. 3979, which was launched in 1989 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Patek Philippe (estimate: SFr./US$200,000-300,000).
Other distinguished manufactures featured in this section include Breguet, Audemars Piguet, Cartier, F.P. Journe and Panerai, amongst others.

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