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Sotheby's Results: Important Watches & Clocks bring $8.8 million in New York
John Mottram, An Ormolu and Enamel Quarter Striking Center Seconds Musical Table Clock, Made for the Chinese Market, 1780. Est. $50/70,000. Sold for $134,500. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, N.Y.- The December 6, 2011 auction of Important Watches & Clocks at Sotheby’s New York achieved $8,832,572, selling a strong 85.9% by lot and well within pre-sale expectations of $6.7/9.6 million. This marks the highest-ever total for an ‘Important Watches & Clocks’ auction at Sotheby’s New York. In addition, 93% of sold lots brought prices within or above their pre-sale estimates.

“We are thrilled with today’s record result for New York,” commented John Reardon, Head of Sotheby’s Watches department in New York. “Our strategy as a team has been to focus on the client experience, both for our buyers and consignors, and the diverse offering we presented them resulted in a range of global interest that included top buyers from Asia to the United States, Europe and Africa.”

The sale was dominated by timepieces from Patek Philippe – nearly one-third of the total lots sold were by the legendary watchmaker, with marked interest in both time-only and complicated pieces. The auction was led jointly by two wristwatches that each achieved $482,500: An Exceptionally Rare and Historically Important 18K Yellow Gold World Time Wristwatch, 1937, Ref 96 HU “Heure Universelle” that is one of the earliest and rarest world time watches known to exist (est. $400/600,000*), and An Exceptional and Fine Platinum Tonneau Automatic Minute Repeating Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch with Retrograde Date and Phases of the Moon, 2004, Ref 5013P that is one of the most complex wristwatches ever made by Patek Philippe, with a total of 515 parts (est. $450/650,000). The $482,500 price for the Ref. 96 HU marks a world record for a Patek Philippe worldtime in a Calatrava case.

December 6, 2011 sale offered a strong selection of timepieces made for the Chinese market, and the group performed exceptionally well. Each of the eight lots was sold, bringing a cumulative $727,500 – more than double their overall high estimate. The group was led by A Fine and Rare Pair of Complementary Silver-Gilt Enamel and Pearl Center Seconds Watches circa 1860 that more than tripled its high estimate of $70,000 in bringing $236,500, as well as An Ormolu and Enamel Quarter Striking Center Seconds Musical Table Clock from 1780 that achieved $134,500.

A group of 11 timepieces by Cartier was 100% sold, bringing a cumulative total of $386,625 – well above their high estimate of $264,000. The selection was led by two rare examples that significantly outperformed their pre-sale expectations: An Important and Rare Gold and Enamel Portrait Timepiece with Wandering Hours, circa 1919 that achieved $122,500, nearly double its $65,000 high estimate, and A Silver and Marble Floating Turtle Mystery Timepiece, circa 1930 that brought $98,500, nearly five times its $20,000 high estimate.

A Very Fine and Rare 18K Yellow Gold Center Seconds Wristwatch with Cloisonne Enamel Dial, Ref 4720 by Vacheron Constantin brought one of the highest prices of the morning session, achieving $170,500 (est. $80/120,000). Offered directly from the family of the original owner, the piece is a previously unknown treasure in horological scholarship. And at the very start of the sale, 30 of the 31 pocket watches and wrist watches from the collection of the late John Traina were sold, totaling $233,878 above an overall high estimate of $175,000.

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