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Sotheby's announces highlights from the Important Watches New York Auction
Patek Philippe. Highly Important and Rare Yellow Gold Automatic Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch Ref 3450 Estimate $150/250,000. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s auction of Important Watches on 6 December will feature a full range of timepieces available for everyone on your holiday wish list. From important and rare wristwatches from Patek Philippe and Rolex, and complicated pocket watches by Audemars Piguet to modern wristwatches by Greubel Forsey, beautiful timepieces by Cartier and limited-edition ones by Hublot, the offerings represent classic and contemporary pieces by the leading names in watchmaking, at a range of price points. The New York exhibition for the nearly 300 lots on sale will open 30 November, as a highlight of A Life of Luxury sale series, an inaugural week of auctions spanning Jewelry, Watches, Wine and Cars.

The Important Watches sale is led by A Limited Edition Stainless Steel Minute Repeating Grande and Petite Sonnerie Wristwatch with Power Reserve by F.P. Journe (estimate $260/360,000). Over the course of six years of experimentation, and a total of ten years to patent, F.P Journe masterfully combined a quarter-striking and a minute-repeating mechanism, along with an on-demand minute-repeating function, demonstrating this independent watchmaker’s exceptional horological expertise. This combination, featured in this present watch, is now a trademark of both the watchmaker and his brand. Encased in stainless steel to achieve the perfect chime, this modern masterpiece – recipient of the Aiguille d’Or at the 2006 Grand Prix de Horologie Genève – will be a major highlight of the December auction.

Complicated pocket watches are best represented by a duet by Audemars Piguet, with identical internal mechanics but exterior cases spanning five decades, both from their original owners. The first, A Fine and Rare Green Gold and Enamel Open Faced Perpetual Calendar Split Seconds Chronograph Minute Repeating Watch with Moon Phases No 14842 was made in 1912 (estimate $60/100,000); a representation of the apex of complicated horology, the timepiece also showcases archetypal Art Deco design. The second, A Fine and Rare Yellow Gold Open Faced Calendar Split Second Chronograph Minute Repeating Watch with Moon Phases Ref 5543BA No. 11723, was started in 1903 and completed circa 1968 (estimate $50/100,000). Coming to auction from the family of the original owner, the watch – with its early 1900s movement and definitively 1960s bold and angular case – is a horological and historical journey from the first to the second half of the 20th century.

Patek Philippe and Rolex, giants of the world of watchmaking, are also well represented in this December auction. A particularly exciting vintage highlight is a Highly Important and Rare Yellow Gold Automatic Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch with Moon Phases and Red Dot Leap Year Indication Ref 3450 by Patek Phillipe – chronologically the first example of the red dot reference 3450 to appear at auction (estimate $150/250,000). Descended through the family of the original owner, the wristwatch brilliantly straddles the line between vintage and modern design with its striking, angular case. Modern Patek Philippe is best represented by a White Gold Automatic Astronomical Wristwatch with Sky Chart Phases and Position of the Moon Ref 5102G. Tracing the Meridian passage of Sirius and the Moon, this highly sophisticated movement, requiring 301 individual parts, was awarded a Swiss patent for the base caliber (estimate $120/180,000).

A number of rare and important Rolexes will also be offered in this sale, including nearly a dozen chronographs and diving watches. The group is led by a Stainless Steel Chronograph Wristwatch with Registers and Bracelet Ref 6239 Daytona ‘Paul Newman’ from circa 1969 (estimate $80/120,000) and two Yellow Gold Chronograph Wristwatch with Registers and Bracelet, Ref 6263 Daytona, one of the most iconic sporting watches of all time (estimate $70/120,000). Both Daytonas, with their distinct black acrylic insert, waterproof screw down crown and chronograph pushers, are noteworthy for their excellent condition and retention of original accompaniments. The auction also features a Fine Stainless Steel Chronograph Wristwatch with Registers and Bracelet Ref 6239 Daytona (estimate $70/120,000). The first model to be outfitted with a dial with square markers – now known as the ‘Paul Newman’ dial – the present lot, with its red gradations, is well-preserved and is an exceptional collector’s piece.

Modern timepieces are also highlighted in the Important Watches sale. A Platinum 24 Second Inclined Tourbillon Wristwatch with 72 Hour Power Reserve Indication by Greubel Forsey combines mesmerizing mechanisms with aesthetic beauty; the 25-degree inclined tourbillion, which performs a full revolution every 24 seconds, is combined with a three-dimensional dial with off-set subsidiary, layered chapter rings and inscribed panels (estimate $150/250,000). For those interested in power reserves, A. Lange & Söhne’s Impressive Platinum Wristwatch with Date and 31 Day Power Reserve Indication should not be missed. It is able to maintain a consistent rate of accuracy over its 744-hour winding autonomy (estimate $50/70,000). The December auction also has a group of over 30 Hublots from a Midwestern Gentleman, distinguished by the number of special-edition racing models. The group is led by a Limited Edition Blackened Titanium and Ceramic Tonneau Form Tourbillon Wristwatch – named in honor of the race car driver Ayrton Senna – that features a striking yellow and black design (estimate $30/60,000).

Lastly, this season’s Watches auction highlights the sheer beauty available in timepieces. An Impressive White Gold and Diamond Set Rectangular Bracelet Watch Ref 143555-1001 by Chopard features approximately 58.86 carats of baguette-cut diamonds, topped by a briolette diamond on the crown (estimate $100/150,000); this gem meticulously unites the firm’s jewelry and watchmaking skills. From Cartier is a Limited Edition Yellow Gold Asymmetric Wristwatch, also known as the ‘Crash’ – a 1991 version of one of the most iconic designs of the 20th century (estimate $30/50,000) – as well as a Fine and Rare Yellow Gold, Enamel, Diamond and Turquoise-Set Lapel Watch; shaped in the form of an acorn, this beautiful, whimsical timepiece carries a pre-sale estimate of $20/30,000. Last but certainly not least is a Fine and Rare Yellow Gold and Enamel Open Faced Watch (estimate $10/15,000). Shown at Vacheron Constantin’s New York exhibition in 2011, which highlighted the company’s history, the present lot was previously in the collection of noted Gilded Age American businessman and philanthropist Jim Brady, whose legendary interest in jewels and precious stones earned him the moniker ‘Diamond’ Jim Brady.

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