Christie's New York presents record-breaking auction of exceptional watches
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Christie's New York presents record-breaking auction of exceptional watches
One of only two known Patek Philippe Ref. 3448G in white gold with the ‘red dot’ leap year indicator. © Christie's Images Ltd 2022.

NEW YORK, NY.- Important Watches of Exceptional Provenance, presented across two evening sessions on June 8 and 9, will be offering a total of 137 lots, among which are some of the finest horological masterpieces to appear at auction. Estimated in excess of US$14 million, this sale marks a historic high for Christie’s New York.

The first evening, on 8 June, will present Lots 1-68 of The Kairos Collection Part III - the finest collection of Patek Philippe contemporary timepieces to be offered. Following Part I in Geneva and Part II in Hong Kong, the grand finale in New York offers marvels of Grandes Complications such as the Ref. 5531R-012, an exceptional 18k rose gold minute repeating world time wristwatch with miniature cloisonné enamel dial, the Ref. 5950/1A-010 (one of just 10 ever made), steel cushion-shaped split seconds single button chronograph wristwatch with blue dial and bracelet, and the Ref. 5740/1G-001, a very rare and quite striking perpetual calendar wristwatch with leap year indicator, moon phases and bracelet, and the first example ever to be offered publicly with a dual signature by Tiffany & Co.

The second evening, on 9 June, will present Lots 69-137, with a focus on vintage and modern icons with exceptional provenance. Among the watches consigned by their original owner or original family, and sourced exclusively in the Americas, are: extraordinarily rare and important Patek Philippe 18k white gold 3448G “Red Dot”; a newly discovered Rolex steel Daytona Ref. 6263, MK 1 “Paul Newman Oyster Sotto”; as well as the early and eminently desirable F. P. Journe platinum Chronomètre à Résonance with brass movement.

Other highlights include historically significant examples such as the The Great Escape 3525 Rolex, the personal watch of RAF Lt. Gerald Imeson wore as a POW and that was instrumental in planning and executing “The Great Escape” on March 24th, 1944.

From 3 to 8 June, these masterpieces will be on display at Christie's New York, 20 Rockefeller Center. The exhibition, open to the public, tells the stories behind these great legends of watchmaking history.

Keith Davis, Head of Watches, Christie’s Americas: “For these two sensational evening sales, Christie’s Watches New York has been entrusted with a spectacular array of over 130 watches from exceptional private ownership and collections. The first evening will be dedicated to the finale of The Kairos Collection, which will showcase 68 incredible treasures of the modern evolution of Perpetual Calendar Chronographs, Split-Chronographs, Métiers d'Art artisanal techniques, World Time references and Complications along with an array of never before seen dual signed Tiffany & Co Dials. The second evening will be dedicated to 69 lots of extremely rare watches with the majority having original owner/family provenance, as well as historically important timepieces. Of note, all lots offered have been sourced from the America’s. We are thrilled to be building on the momentum of the incredible sales we've achieved so far this year and to be closing the Christie’s Watches Spring-Summer season with one of the most important timepiece auctions of 2022.”

If four timepieces could tell a story…

Lot 58 - From The Kairos Collection Part III, the Patek Philippe Ref. 5531R-012, with miniature cloisonné enamel dial depicting the Lavaux vineyards on the shores of Lake Geneva. This 18k rose gold Grande Complication watch presented at Baselworld 2018 merges two iconic horological mechanisms: Minute Repeater and World Time.

As the first minute repeater that always strikes local time, the Reference 5531 World Time Minute Repeater innovates by uniting two of Patek Philippe’s most emblematic complications. This masterpiece of micromechanics is also remarkable for its outward beauty. The rose gold case is adorned with a hand-guilloché hobnail pattern and a dial centre in cloisonné enamel depicting the Lavaux vineyards on the shores of Lake Geneva, revealing the quintessence of Métiers d’Art tradition and craftsmanship.

(Est: US$1,000,000-2,000,000)

Lot 111 - Patek Philippe 18k white gold 3448G “Red Dot”. This 1981 reference in 18K white gold is one of only two known of the 3448 with the leap year indicator.

An automatic perpetual calendar wristwatch, unique not only because it is the only one of its linage to have a leap year indicator materialized by a small red dot at 3:30, but also by its combination of features and complications : 37.5 mm calibre Cal. 27-460 Q automatic, Geneva hallmark, moon phases, day and date display, perpetual calendar with leap year indicator, 37 jewels, Gyromax balance, 18K gold wheel, matte silver dial, applied gold batons for squared figures, auxiliary edges indicating the date and moon phases.

Sold in 1981 to a collector, this Ref. 3448 remained the property of the original purchaser’s family and is an aficionado’s dream come true.

(Est: US$800,000-1,600,000)

Lot 94 - An extremely rare Ref. 6263 stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with black "Paul Newman Mark 1 Oyster Sotto Daytona" dial. Newly discovered and coming fresh to the market being sourced from the original family, the "Oyster Sotto" or "Oyster Below" dial is also commonly known as the "RCO" as it features the words "Rolex", "Cosmograph", and then "Oyster" aligned vertically on the dial.

To the Daytona collector, the Paul Newman Oyster Sotto Daytona is unquestionably one of the true ‘holy grail’ pieces. Amongst the extremely small number of such watches produced, those with a Mark 1 dial are undeniably the rarest of the rare, near-unattainable trophies of the Rolex world.

Less than 20 examples in total with the Oyster “Sotto” designation (below the word “Cosmograph” instead of above it) are known. The Oyster “Sotto” dials were only fitted to a very small number of the first reference 6263 water-resistant Oyster Cosmographs. The Paul Newman dial itself was discontinued soon after the reference 6263 was introduced: only low serial number watches were fitted with this style of dial, presumably at the request of clients or certain retailers.

Furthermore, some of these very special pieces have dials with a distinctly different font type that can be classed as a “Mark 1” dial, only appearing on those watches with the very lowest serial numbers. Of all the Paul Newman Oyster Sotto watches publicly known, only a few examples including the present watch sport the Mark 1 dial. From circa 1969.

(Est: US$600,000-1,000,000)

Curated by a private collector with a discerning eye for excellence and the ability to acquire the rarest watches, The Kairos Collection is the finest grouping of Patek Philippe contemporary timepieces ever to appear at auction. It is the fruit of years of dedicated focus and a passion for the most prestigious of provenances, with every single timepiece in pristine condition.

On 8 June, Christie’s New York Important Watches of Exceptional Provenance will be featuring 68 watches from The Kairos Collection Part III, among which the following fabled references:

Lot 64 - Patek Philippe Ref. 5950/1A-010, from a limited series of just 10 examples, this steel cushion-shaped split seconds single button chronograph wristwatch with blue dial and bracelet.

Launched in 2010, reference 5950 immediately soared to the top of the wish lists of collectors everywhere. Powered by the calibre CHR 27-575 PS, which was first introduced in 2005 with the officer-style split seconds chronograph reference 5959, not only is this movement the first example of chronographic calibre completely realised in-house by Patek Philippe, it is also the thinnest manually wound column-wheel split seconds single button chronograph movement ever designed by any manufacturer.

This movement, which can be considered a compendium of the best and most innovative horological technology available at the moment of its inception, is interestingly housed in an art deco-style case inspired by the very first split seconds chronograph wristwatches of the 1920s. The cushion-shaped case, the typical dial layout with outer railway fifth of a second divisions and the two horizontal subsidiary dials, the Breguet numerals, the engraved motif at the corners of the dial (reprised on the movement as well, an example of Patek Philippe's incredible attention to detail), every little detail of the timepiece is devised with the intention of sending the wearer on a voyage back to the 1920s and 30s. (Est: US$300,000-500,000)

Lot 63 - Patek Philippe Ref. 5740/1G-001 Nautilus. The present Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5740/1G is the first example to come to market with a dual signature by Tiffany & Co.

The alliance between Patek Philippe and Tiffany & Co. began in 1851 under the guidance of the companies’ owners, Charles Louis Tiffany and Antoine Norbert de Patek. In 1854, Tiffany & Co. began introducing Patek Philippe watches to the American market, including some of the rarest models. The relationship flourished, Tiffany being the only name Patek Philippe allowed on the dials of its watches for exceptional occasions.

The present timepiece is a prime example of the longstanding heritage between Patek Philippe and Tiffany - the present ref. 5740/1G is a modern culmination of design and heritage. Between the Gerald Genta case design, the Tiffany Signature, and Patek Philippe’s calibre 240Q, the Ref. 5740/1G is representative of the horological progress made by each respective house and creator. With humble beginnings, the relationship between Tiffany, Patek Philippe, and Gerald Genta is etched into the history of modern horology.

The Patek Philippe Reference 5740/1G is the first of the Nautilus family to be included in the Grande Complication family of Patek Philippe. The present timepiece presents a marriage between the iconic case designed by Mr. Genta, and the haute horological craftsmanship that has become synonymous with Patek Philippe watchmaking.

Featuring the ultra-thin calibre 240 Q and an updated fold over clasp mechanism, the Reference 5740/1G is a timepiece that embodies the zeitgeist of modern horology. The heritage between Patek Philippe’s iconic Nautilus and the firm’s masterful craftsmanship come together to create a timepiece that is representative of the best and most special parts of Patek Philippe’s contribution to horology.

(Est: US$200,000-400,000)

Lot 28 - Patek Philippe Ref. 5711/1A-014 Nautilus with “Green Dial”, in steel. Some contemporary watches are accurately described as being almost impossible to obtain. As it is unquestionably the hottest recent release watch in the world, obtaining the new green dial Patek Philippe Nautilus launched only last year requires nothing short of a miracle. The present piece presents a remarkable opportunity for the determined collector to possess a wristwatch that is already part of Patek Philippe’s mythology, the most desired and covetable steel Nautilus of all.

The Nautilus 5711⁄1A-014 was unveiled at Watches & Wonders in April 2021 with a dial in a never-before-seen shade of olive green that is new to the Nautilus collection. The model was released as a replacement for the blue-dialled reference 5711⁄1A-010 made to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Nautilus in 2006 and discontinued earlier this year. An homage to the original “Jumbo” reference 3700⁄1A, the 5711⁄1A draws striking similarities in design to the original models while also offering a modern update with a new case size which is 1mm larger than its predecessor, and made in three-parts rather than the two-part cases of the original Nautilus. The introduction of the new sunburst olive-green dial for the new Nautilus was an unexpected yet ingenious move by Patek Philippe and it is thought that the model will only be produced for one year. Naturally, demand will continue to greatly exceed supply for the remaining production time.

The present watch, offered in immaculate condition, affords those discriminating collectors who insist upon only the most exclusive timepieces the thrilling prospect of obtaining, without delay, an unobtainable Patek Philippe steel Nautilus that is destined to become ever more desirable.

(Est: US$200,000-400,000)

Lot 61 – Patek Philippe Ref. 5372P-010. A very attractive platinum split seconds chronograph perpetual calendar wristwatch with moon phase. Introduced in 2017, the Patek Philippe Ref. 5372P-010 is a fine take on the modern split seconds chronograph. The Ref. 5372P-010 is a mono-pusher split seconds chronograph. An incredibly complicated layout to start with, properly calibrating the chronograph to a single pusher system in an engineering prowess.

The Ref. 5372P-010, is featured in two different dials, blue and rose gold. Although publications have referred to the dial as “Salmon”, Patek Philippe lists the dial colour as “Rose Gold”. Patek Philippe timepieces that feature the ever so pleasing “Salmon” dials are among the most desirable and collectible the firm has ever created in both its modern and vintage eras. The present lot is the chance to own a “Salmon”-hued grande complication made only until early 2022.

(Est: US$200,000-400,000)

Lot 22 - Patek Philippe Ref. 5968G-010 Aquanaut. A fine 18k white gold Fly-Back chronograph wristwatch with date, retailed & signed by Tiffany & Co. The Aquanaut followed in the wake of the Nautilus’s 30th anniversary in 1996 which launched the celebrated and now-discontinued Ref. 5711 and the Ref. 5712. The first Aquanaut reference 5060, launched in 1997, borrowed many of its design cues from big brother Nautilus – most notably the rounded octagonal bezel.

(Est: US$150,000-250,000)

On 9 June: Treasures of Exceptional Provenance

Lots 69-137 of Important Watches of Exceptional Provenance will focus on vintage and modern icons, including the extraordinarily rare and important watches described below. Other highlights include historically significant military examples such as The Great Escape 3525 Rolex highlighted earlier.

Legends of Legends – Rolex Daytonas with the “Paul Newman” dial

Alongside Ref. 6263 "Paul Newman Mark 1 Oyster Sotto Daytona", Christie’s New York will also be offering three other fabled and fabulous Rolex Daytonas with a Paul Newman dial. A true icon in the world of watch collecting, the Rolex Daytona has, from its origination, undergone a multitude of iterations, from dials to cases to movements – perfectly illustrating Rolex’s incessant drive to innovate and still remain true to its heritage. The rarest and most sought-after watches continue to be of the Paul Newman era, a version of the Daytona made famous by the eponymous actor.

Lot 120 - The Great Escape 3525 Rolex. A historically important Rolex watch worn by RAF Flight Lieutenant Gerald Imeson as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft III, the present watch was instrumental in the planning and execution of “The Great Escape,” made on March 24, 1944. During captivity, airmen could take advantage of an offer by Hans Wilsdorf, the owner of Rolex, allowing British officers to purchase watches on credit which could be paid when the war was won. An estimated 3,000+ British officers, including F/Lt. Imeson, sent postcards to Wilsdorf explaining their circumstances and whereabouts, indicating which Rolex they would like. On August 4, 1943, F/Lt. Imeson’s Rolex 3525 was delivered to Stalag Luft III. The watch on offer today is accompanied by a number of images of F/Lt. Imeson, as well as some images of extracts from his diary during his time as a “POW” at Stalug Luft III, including references to the arrival of his 3525 at camp as well as an entry on 24-25/3 indicating the “Big Event”, aka “the Great Escape”.

(Est: US$200,000-400,000)

The mystical mastery of F.P. Journe

Lot 96 - F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance. A very important 38mm platinum dual time wristwatch with power reserve and dual escapement brass movement.

The present watch is an important early version with rhodium-plated brass movement. Early F. P. Journe timepieces were fitted with brass movements, and these are extremely collectible today. Journe timepieces maybe synonymous with 18k gold movements now however the watchmaker only started crafting his movements in gold from 2004. The early production models, between 2001 and 2004, featured brass movements – an estimated number of around 2,000. As a result, Journe wristwatches with brass movements are rare and signify an epoch in the celebrated watchmaker’s sterling career.

The Chronomètre à Résonance model was launched in 2000 and is a firm favourite amongst Journe’s watches. It is one of the exceedingly rare and fascinating wristwatches in the world based on resonance, a natural physical phenomenon. The two closely positioned balance wheels synchronize each other by means of the resonance effect and naturally beat alternately. The negative effects of wrist and body movements are hence considerably reduced.

The effects of resonance upon a timekeeper were first noticed by Antide Janvier around 1780, who created clocks with two pendulums beating in resonance, and the idea was taken further by Abraham Louis Breguet who successfully completed pocket watches with twin resonant balances. The genius of F.P. Journe reinvented the mechanism for the modern world and produced the Chronomètre a Résonance” wristwatch, and the present watch is one of that remarkable series. The two dials can of course be used to show two different time zones, however, many watch collectors have both dials displaying the same time to remain true to the original theory of resonance. To facilitate precise setting of both movements, the seconds can be zeroed and started simultaneously by pulling out the crown at 4 o’clock on the band.

(Est: US$300,000-500,000)

Lot 97 – F.P. Journe, Octa Calendrier, a very fine 38mm platinum annual calendar wristwatch, with automatic brass movement and retrograde date.

This lot is an important early version with rhodium-plated brass movement. Early F. P. Journe timepieces were fitted with brass movements, and are, as mentioned above, extremely collectible today

The Octa Calendrier is the third complication to be integrated in the Octa automatic calibre. The integration of an annual retrograde calendar while maintaining the dimensions of the movement was another significant horological achievement for the brand. The instantaneously advancing day and month display is self-adjusting for months with 28, 30 and 31 days. The Octa annual calendar requires manual adjustment at the end of February only during the non-leap years.

(Est: US$200,000-300,000)

When legend meets legend meets legend: Rolex x Daytona x Tiffany & Co.

Lot 95 - Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263. A very fine and rare 14k yellow gold chronograph wristwatch, retailed and signed by Tiffany & Co., consigned by the family of the original owner.

(Est: US$150,000-250,000)

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