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White glove sale & records: Triumph for the first online sale of pocket watches at Sotheby's
The Dent Ultra Complication from 1904 - One of the most sophisticated watches ever made - Doubles its estimate to reach USD 832,240. Courtesy Sotheby's.

GENEVA.- Earlier today, the first online sale ever dedicated to pocket watches concluded with 100% of the lots sold. The top lot of the sale was the Dent ‘Ultra Complication’, one of the most sophisticated watches ever made, which eclipsed its pre-sale estimate to sell for USD 832,240 / CHF 800,000 (Lot 34, est. CHF 300,000-500,000) and set both a world auction record for a watch sold in an online sale and a record for a pocket watch sold online.

The sale, which had been open for bidding since 3rd June, was the third instalment of the landmark collection ‘Masterworks of Time’ which had already set a swathe of records last year*. Today, the 125 lots on offer totalled USD 4.5 million (CHF 4.4 million), far surpassing the pre-sale expectations (est. CHF 2-3.1m). This result brings the total achieved so far by the collection to over $20.3 million, approaching the high estimate for the entire 800-watch strong collection (est. $15-27m) and with one more sale to come this autumn.

Daryn Schnipper, Chairman of Sotheby’s International Watch Division, said: “With nearly 1,000 bids placed in the final day of this unprecedented sale, ‘Masterworks of Time’ continues to capture the imagination. This groundbreaking sale has been a thrill to be a part of. It is fascinating to see exceptional timepieces from across the centuries, sparking instant bidding, from all corners of the Earth, using the latest online technology. The men behind the incredibly complex watches sold today were innovators and visionaries in their time, and it is fantastic to see today’s collectors competing, near and far, and recognizing their contributions to the story of watchmaking.“


• Entitled Abraham-Louis Breguet, Horologist extraordinaire, the auction featured one of the most comprehensive offerings of timepieces by the father of modern watchmaking to appear at auction. Together, these 17 lots realised a total of $1.1m, well above estimates (est. $570,000-920,000) and were led by:

• An 1816 Tourbillon watch made by Abraham Louis Breguet for Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Scottish General and Astronomer who founded Brisbane in Australia, which reached USD 582,568 / CHF 560,000 (lot 27, est. CHF 300,000 – 500,000).

• One of Patek Philippe’s most coveted vintage pocket watches - an ‘Heures Universelles’ watch from 1948 featuring a map of North America - soared to USD 707,404 / CHF 680,000 (lot 126, est. CHF 250,000 - 350,000).

• One of a handful of Art Deco watches by René Lalique, a watch from circa 1900 decorated with trumpet flowers and a rhinoceros beetle, realised USD 110,532 / CHF 106,250 (lot 75, est. CHF 50,000 - 80,000).

• A gold watch with matching chatelaine made by François Jolly in Paris in 1749-50 and decorated with floral enamel and moss agate sold for USD 104,030 / CHF 100,000, 10 times the pre-sale estimate (lot 109, est. CHF 8,000-12,000).


Embracing each of the European epicentres of the watchmaking industry over time, this extraordinary collection of over 800 long-unseen pieces – unparalleled in its scope and comprehensiveness – is being offered in a series of sales between July 2019 and November 2020.

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