HONG KONG.- Christies
Hong Kong will present its Hong Kong 2013 spring auctions of Important Watches on May 29. Estimated to realize in excess of HK$105 million/US$13.4 million, the sales offer 540 lots, with years of manufacture spanning from 1750 to 2013. Collectors will find an eclectic selection of watches from antique timepieces to vintage and modern watches, from works by legendary brands to creations of emerging independent watchmakers. A number of private collections are featured, including the Collection of John Stainton.
Important Modern Watches
One of the most revered watchmakers in the world, Patek Phillipe leads the modern watch highlights. An array of highlights, sourced from a distinguished European collection consisting of 24 lots with an estimates range of HK$16,000-1.3 million, showcases the Swiss brands craftsmanship. The first is a collection of models (lot 2705 - 2710), each owning a place in Patek Philippes recent history as an iconic reference in its own right. Following Patek Philippes heritage, every watch in the collection is defined by its noble style, unmatched quality and ageless appeal. The second is a set of watches (lot 3014, est. HK$400,000-600,000/US$50, 000-75,000) that has never been offered in public before and is preserved in nearly new condition. Each member in the set comes with Patek Philippe Certificate of Origin dated June 2001, sales tag and fitted pouch.
The third highlight, a platinum perpetual calendar split seconds chronograph wristwatch with black dial, Ref. 5004 (lot 2734, est. HK$1,600,000-2,500,000 / US$200,000-300,000) made circa 2008, is one of the only three known examples with a black dial confirmed by the manufacturers Certificate of Origin to come up for auction so far.
Also belonging to the classic family of Reference 5004 is a set of four Patek Phillipe watches (lot 2913, 2917, 2921, 2924) consigned by a prominent private collector. Fitted with four different kinds of precious stones, each perfectly matching their respective case metals, this quartet of 5004 was originally sealed and never worn by the collector. Moreover, all four dials are confirmed by the Certificate of Origin delivered by Patek Philippe. No other set such as the present had ever been released to the public.
A platinum and 18k pink gold automatic semi-skeletonised minute repeating perpetual calendar wristwatch, Ref. 5104 (lot 3021, est. HK$3,900,000-6,000,000/US$500,000-750,000), is another rare gem. The movement number of the present example ends with 001, indicating that it was the first Reference 5104 watch made for commercial distribution. The watch is one of less than five examples to have come up for auction to date, and has one of the clearest and loudest chimes amongst Patek Philippes minute repeaters. The sale is also highlighted by reference 5950 (lot 2927, est. HK$2,600,000-3,800,000/US$330,000-480,000), which is the first time ever offered at auction. As part of the Patek Philippe Grand Complication series, reference 5950 which was launched in 2010 is a renaissance of the unmistakable late 1920s style displayed by this chronograph.
Independent Watchmakers Shine with Design and Innovation
Boasting a greater variety of complication, more limited productions and a higher level of exclusivity comparing to most streamline or traditional brands, independent watchmakers have been gaining market strength in recent years. Their cutting-edge design and complex mechanism make many collectors gravitate towards these creations, which often transcend the boundaries of watchmaking and become works of art. Four distinctive timepieces, each representing the merits of a renowned independent watchmaker, are among the sales top lots.
The first GMT model ever offered at auction, the present 25° inclined 24 seconds tourbillon GMT (lot 2762, est. HK$1,600,000-2,400,000/US$200,000-300,000) is a solid validation of the underlying fundamental inventions of watchmaker Greubel Forsey. This horological masterpiece features a spectacular three-dimensional temporal representation on a rotating terrestrial globe, offering the wearer a unique view of time all over the world. This technical marvel provides a whole new way of perceiving the different time zones.
A native Finnish, Kari Voutilainen established himself as an independent Artist Watchmaker in Switzerland in 2002. His works are all entirely handmade, each crafted according to specific requirements, therefore their production remains very limited. A one-of-a-kind piece of Decimal model minute repeating wristwatch (lot 2752, est. HK$1,200,000-2,000,000/ US$150,000-250,000) by Voutilainen is presented in the sales. The watchmaker developed a new repeating mechanism for this model, and this present watch not only is the first repeater of this kind but also the first repeater by him offered at auction.
Legacy Machine No. 1 is the first Machine in an entirely new line of watches from MB&F crafted with respect to the traditional core values of watchmaking. With Max Busser, Jean-Francois Mojon and Kari Voutilainen joining forces for its making, LM1 has two special features: the unique location of the balance wheel and the worldwide first vertical power reserve indicator. The present LM1 (lot 2757, est. HK$320,000-480,000/US$40,000-60,000) is the first Legacy Machine model ever offered at auction.
Signed by independent watchmaker Christophe Claret, the automatic wristwatch with three games (lot 2808, est. HK$320,000-480,000/US$40,000-60,000) is the first Blackjack 21 model offered at auction. The watch belongs to a limited edition of 21 pieces and is numbered 9. Its most unusual feature is the three gamesblackjack, roulette and diceincorporated into its body and can be played by wearer.
Private Collections Offer Antique Form Timepieces
This seasons auctions also provide an eye-catching group of antique form timepieces from the Collection of John Stainton and an important private collection. A successful English businessman, John Stainton first developed his passion for watches in 1987 and has since amassed a collection of some 70 form watches, all dating back to the 19th century.
The collection is made up of some of the finest enamel watches in various forms including fruits, musical instruments and insects. Decorated with enamels, pearls and diamonds, these timepieces combine the technical expertise of the watchmaker with the delicacy and beauty of the enamellists craft. Highlights include three keywound verge watches made in circa 1810 in Switzerlandone in the form of two peaches made for the Chinese market (lot 2660, est. HK$62,000-80,000 / US$8,000-10,000), one in the form of a tulip (lot 2671, est. HK$120,000-180,000 / US$15,000-22,000) and another in the form of a butterfly (lot 2819, est. HK$120,000-180,000 / US$15,000-23,000).
In addition, there is an important private collection comprising five pieces in total, with estimates ranging from HK$50,000 to 750,000. The highlight from the collection is a gold, agate, enamel and gem-set necessaire (lot 2872, est. HK$400, 000-600,000 / US$50,000-75,000).
Two timepieces top the diamond wristwatch category. One, a limited-edition tourbillon wristwatch signed by Chopard (lot 2657, est. HK$800,000-1,200,000/US$100,000-150,000), sports 457 diamonds weighing a total of approximately 15.07 carats and a bracelet set with approximately 1060 circular diamonds weighing around 14 carats. The other, a Patek Phillipe piece, Ref. 3996/1 (lot 2966, est. HK$1,200,000-1,600,000/US$150,000-200,000), dazzles with 153 diamonds weighing 9.54 carats and 126 baguette-cut diamonds weighing 23.46 carats. Made in 1989, the watch is in pristine condition and is offered at auction for the first time.
Other top lots include a pocket watch and a vintage watch. The former is a Patek Phillipe manufactured in 1894 (lot 2888, est. HK$1,300,000-1,800,000/US$170,000-225,000). Less than 40 examples of its kind have been identified in the market thus far, proving the watchs extraordinary rarity. The latter, also by Patek Phillipe, is a Reference 1518 model (lot 3036, est. HK$3,000,000-4,000,000/US$400,000-500,000). Launched in 1941, this reference is the first perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch produced in series by any watch company. According to literature, only 281 examples were made before the model ceased production in 1954 and was later replaced by Reference 2499. The majority of the models were made in gold, which makes the present watch in pink gold a rarity.