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A record-breaking watch auction at Christie's Geneva
Patek Philippe. An exceptional, highly attractive, historically important and certainly unique platinum wristwatch with Guillaume balance, Bulletin d’Observatoire, additional diamond-set dial and platinum bracelet, made especially for J.B Champion, ref. 2458, manufactured in 1952. Estimate: SFr.2,000,000-4,000,000. Price realized: SFr. 3,779,000 / $3,990,624 / €3,312,217.9. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012.
GENEVA.- Christie's Geneva auction sale of Important Watches including A Gentleman’s Pursuit for Excellence, Part I fetched a total result of SFr.27,042,825/$28,557,223/€22,445,545, selling 96% by lot and 97% by value.

The exceptionally rare platinum perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases, ref. 2499/100, manufactured by Patek Philippe in 1987 and offered from the collection of Eric Clapton, sold for SFr. 3,443,000 / $3,635,808 / €2,857,690, setting a world record price for this reference at auction.

The top price of the sale was paid for the ‘J.B. Champion Platinum Observatory Chronometer’, a unique platinum chronometer wristwatch, ref. 2458, which was specially manufactured by Patek Philippe for J.B. Champion, the legendary American watch collector, in 1952. This historically important timepiece realized SFr.3,779,000 / $3,990,624 / €3,136,570, setting a world auction record for a watch without complications.

World record prices were also set for numerous references and models in the following categories: Patek Philippe, Rolex, Omega, antique and 20th century enamels, decorative watches and contemporary watches.

Aurel Bacs, International Head of Christie's Watch Department, commented: “Christie's auction of Important Watches in Geneva performed extremely well, demonstrating great consistency at all levels in terms of watches, prices and clients. In a broad, healthy and ever growing market, where buyers demand expertise and scholarship, we offered once again the finest selection of watches and wristwatches. A packed saleroom, today’s seven-hour marathon auction welcomed some 500 registrants from five continents, generating stellar sell-through rates as well as breaking numerous records. Collectors, public and private museums, the trade and also an investment watch fund, battled out the bidding for the best watches seen at auction this season, reconfirming Christie's market leadership in every horological category. This is our recipe: sourcing top quality properties, pricing them accurately, presenting them to the right audience, in the right place, at the right time”.

The most valuable lot of the sale, an historically important and unique platinum chromometer wristwatch with Guillaume balance, Bulletin d'Observatoire, additional diamond-set dial and platinum bracelet, ref. 2458, made especially for J.B Champion by Patek Philippe in 1952, sold for SFr.3,779,000 / $3,990,624 / €3,136,570 (lot 88).

Offered from the Collection of Eric Clapton, an exceptionally rare platinum perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases, ref. 2499/100, manufactured by Patek Philippe in 1987, sold for SFr. 3,443,000 / $3,635,808 / €2,857,690 (lot 151). Only once previously sold at auction in 1989, it then changed hands for $250,999.

100% sold by lot and by value, the sensational collection of antique watches, comprising the different styles made for the export to China, fetched a total result of SFr.2,303,500 / US$2,432,496 / €1,911,905, exceeding its pre-sale estimate by five times. The top lot of the collection was an exceptional gold and enamel openface centre seconds duplex watch with enamel by Jean-François-Victor Dupont, made for the Chinese market by William Ilbery, London, circa 1815 (lot 194), which sold for SFr.651,000 / US$687,456 / €540,330.

The majority of the pieces offered for sale were acquired by the present owner and her late husband during their repeated journeys to the Orient between the late 1950s and the 1970s.

Part I of A Gentleman’s Pursuit For Excellence, a superb private collection of complicated Patek Philippe wristwatches and pocket watches, totalled SFr.1,332,000 / US$1,406,592 / €1,105,560. The top lot of the collection was a white gold automatic perpetual calendar wristwatch with moon phases, ref. 3448, manufactured by Patek Philippe in 1974 (lot 316), which sold for SFr.387,000 / US$408,672 / €321,210.

Part II will be offered at Christie's Geneva on 13 May 2013.

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