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Sotheby's Geneva Sale of Important Watches Brings $8,753,568
With strong prices for pieces made for the Chinese, Turkish and Indian markets, the sale attracted buyers from around the world and more than 300 clients had registered to participate.

GENEVA.- Sotheby’s sale of Important Watches was led by a highly rare Patek Philippe chronograph which fetched CHF 722,500 ($815,637) and one of the most exclusive examples of a stainless steel Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” with inverted lines, which realised CHF 206,500 ($233,150). Covering five centuries of watchmaking history, from 1580 to the present day, the 280-lot sale realised CHF 7,754,000 ($8,753,568). With strong prices for pieces made for the Chinese, Turkish and Indian markets, the sale attracted buyers from around the world and more than 300 clients had registered to participate.

Commenting tonight’s results, Geoffroy Ader, Sotheby’s European Head of Watches, said: “The solid results achieved tonight both for rare models of big brands and unique historical timepieces reflect the continued broadening of the market to wider geographical areas and a new generation of sophisticated collectors. This sale had been put together to present the quintessence of watch production over centuries and continents and to contribute to the rediscovery of sometimes overlooked pages of watch history. We are delighted that it has met with so much enthusiasm from international connoisseurs.”

A highly rare Patek Philippe chronograph takes centre stage, selling for CHF 722,500 ($815,637)

The highest selling lot of the evening was lot 185, an extremely rare yellow gold chronograph wristwatch Patek Philippe with perpetual calendar, moon phases and Tachometer scale (ref. 2499 MVT 868757 CASE 2621545). First sold on 18 December 1962 and this evening estimated at CHF 600,000-1,000,000 ($665,000-1,100,000), this fine example of Patek Philippe craftsmanship received applause when it sold for CHF 722,500 ($815,637).

Strong results for Pocket watches

The subject of an ever-increasing interest in recent Sotheby’s sales, tonight pocket watches secured strong bids, bringing the combined total for this category to CHF 2,970,000 ($3,352,863), above the pre-sale estimate of CHF 1,935,000-2,882,000 million ($2,2-3.3 million).

Among the key pieces were antique pocket watches, headlined by lot 73 – a rare silver open-faced pocket chronometer made by Breguet & Fils circa 1809 (no. 158) which realised CHF 110,500 ($124,745), more than nine times its pre-sale estimate of CHF 12,000-18,000 ($13,300-19,900) and lot 61 – a fine and rare gold enamel and pearl-set montre à tact watch made by Le Roy circa 1820. Estimated at CHF 30,000-50,000 ($33,200-55,500), this very fine example of “montre à tact” realised CHF 56,250 ($63,501).

Antique timepieces soar above estimate

A further testament to the strong interest of world collectors for timepieces of historical significance and important provenance was seen in the results achieved for an eminent single owner collection of historical watches – Property of an Estate (Part 1) – which eclipsed its pre-sale estimate of CHF 337,000-510,000 ($373,900-565,600) to sell for a combined total of CHF 586,875 ($662,528).

Among the highlights of this collection charting the evolution of pocket watches from 1580 until 1900 were two exceptionally rare automaton watches which exceeded their pre-sale estimates. The first – lot 57, one of a dozen "Kitchen" automata known today - proved irresistible to many bidders who pursued it to a final price of CHF 92,500 ($104,424), more than doubling the high estimate (est. CHF 30,000-50,000/$33,200-55,500). Dating from circa 1820, this gold enamel watch with a magnificent automaton scene depicting a lady at the spinning-wheel sitting by a fire with a child, a cat and two dogs was attributed to the Geneva watchmaker Pierre Simon Gounouilhou (1779-1847), one of the only makers alongside Dubois & Fils who produced this form of automaton.

The second, lot 71 – a Swiss gold and enamel musical and automaton watch, dating circa 1820 and featuring two putti on a swing and one playing the drum also rose above its pre-sale estimate of CHF 30,000-50,000 ($33,200-55,500) to sell for CHF 130,000 ($146,758).

Strong competition for enamel timepieces made for the Chinese, Turkish and Indian markets

Following the success, in Sotheby’s Geneva November 2010 sale, of a group of antique timepieces made for the Chinese and Turkish markets, tonight enamel timepieces attracted strong competition, with high prices fuelled by bidding from Asia, India and the Middle East. Bearing witness to the extraordinary craftsmanship incorporated in ornamental pieces made for the Chinese market, a fine and rare 18K Gold and enamel scent flacon made by Piguet & Capt circa 1807 fetched CHF 242,500 ($273,761). Estimated at CHF 200,000-300,000 ($221,000-332,000), the present lot, n. 124, is one of two musical flacons of nearly identical construction. The second piece, also by Piguet & Capt, was formerly in the King Farouk collection.

Other highlights included a group of “Rajah watches”, luxurious pocket watches made in Geneva for Indian dignitaries in the 19th century. Estimated at CHF 20,000-30,000 ($22,100-33,200), lot 110 - a gold, enamel and minute repeating watch dating from circa 1920 and featuring a painted portrait of His Highness Maharaja Bhupinder Singh (1891-1938), the ruler of the princely state of Patiala in Punjab from 1900 to 1938 - realised CHF 122,500 ($138,291), whereas lot 109 - a rare gold, enamel ruby and diamond-set watch with a painted portrait of His Highness Sawai Mahendra Sir Pratahsing Bahadeer, Maharaja of Orchha, Tikamgarh, Bundelkhand, signed Graff, circa 1890 - sold for CHF 74,500 ($84,104) against an estimate of CHF 20,000-30,00 ($22,100-33,200).

Pocket watches were also widely represented in the Patek Philippe section: lot 179, a fine and rare 18k yellow gold open-faced minute repeating perpetual calendar split second chronograph watch with moon-phases (ref. 767, MVT 198106, case 687006) achieved CHF 242,500 ($273,761). Estimated at CHF 200,000-300,000/($221,000-300,000), this was a very rare example of a highly complicated pocket watch whose production began in 1927 and was completed in 1957.

Rare models of Rolexes perform extremely well

Tonight’s sale was spearheaded by an outstanding group of Rolexes which performed extremely well. Estimated between CHF 1.8 and 2.4 million ($2-2.7 million), the selection of Rolex watch soared to realise a combined total of CHF 2,038,500 ($2,301,284).

Following the world record achieved last November for a Daytona “Paul Newman” with brown dial (sold for CHF 464,500 - six times its high estimate), lot 280 - an extremely rare Oyster Cosmograph Daytona “Paul Newman” with inverted lines dating from circa 1967 sold for CHF 206,500 ($233,120), comfortably exceeding the pre-sale estimate of CHF 100,000-150,000 ($111,000-166,000). The enthusiasm of collectors was with no doubt sparked by the rarity of the “Paul Newman” dial, the unusual signature featuring the “Oyster” on the third line after “Rolex” and “Cosmograph” and the fact that the watch came with an original presentation case and guarantee.

Among the various Daytona vintage models of the Rolex section, covering all different references and dial combinations, lot 108 – a unique version of the gold cosmograph wristwatch (ref. 16528) with a variant ‘13’ on the dial instead of the 15 minutes indication realised CHF 122,500 ($138,291). Estimated at CHF 80,000-120,000 ($88,500-133,000), the “Daytona 13” was accompanied by a letter from Rolex Chairman Heiniger confirming the printing error on the 13 indication marker.

Among the top prices for modern wristwatches were the CHF 302,500 ($341,495) achieved for lot 222, a Greubel Forsey no. 77 platinum tourbillon, circa 2007, and the CHF 170,500 ($192,479) for lot 269, an Audemars Pigue alacrite and titanium manual winding wristwatch, circa 2002.

* Pre-sale estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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