The last month of 2012 features four very interesting auctions of high-end timepieces that will be especially enticing to people who don’t mind paying a very hefty price to get extraordinary timekeepers. Three of these sales will be organized by Bonham’s, while the fourth will be held by Antiquorum. The most interesting of all pieces that will be auctioned in December is Patek Philippe Reference 5016 watch with a unique black and red dial. This timepiece is equipped with a tourbillion, a minute repeater, moon phases and a perpetual calendar (valued at $500,000-$700,000). Other stars of the sales will be watches from the same high-end brand: Reference 5079 with automatic winding and a cathedral minute repeater ($400,000-$480,000); Reference 2499 with a perpetual calendar, moon phases and a chronograph ($250,000-$350,000); as well as an exquisite 18th century musical clock by James Cox ($240,000 and $400,000). The rich selection of amazing watches that will be on sale this month includes a few more timekeepers whose prices are expressed with six figures.
Chronologically, the first auction will be held at December 12; it is Fine Clocks Sales by Bonham’s in London. The next day (December 13) will be marked by two more sales: Bonham’s bi-coastal Fine Watches and Clocks Auction in the United States and Antiquorum’s Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces Auction in New York. The date of the final Fine Watches and Wristwatches sales by Bonham’s that will be organized in London will be December 18.
Bonham’s Fine Clocks Auction in London
The first major horological auction in December will be displaying several interesting clocks. However, the one that is bound to attract most attention is the one made by James Cox. It is an agate-paneled and silver-mounted musical table clock treated with ormolu decorative technique. The intricate clock is made with a moonphase indication and will be sold with the original key that is signed by its creator, James Cox. This legendary craftsman who is best known for his complex musical clocks and automata was not a watchmaker by trade, but a jeweler and a goldsmith. Cox had a practice of collaborating with other artisans who were creating products he designed. He was also known as a creator of smaller luxury pieces (such as snuffboxes and caskets) that often included movements and watches, and were in some instances utilized as elements in the compositions of a larger scale. Most of his products were intended for export to China. Nowadays, several of his creations are exhibited in prestigious museums (for example, his life-sized peacock automaton can be seen in Hermitage in Saint Petersburg).
A Lavish Intricacy on a Musical Clock by James Cox
The clock that will be offered at the first auction of December is a great example of the complexity of Cox’s work and the multitude of details featured in his products. The whole composition takes a form of a commode from that period. On its top, just above the dial, there is a figure of a dragon made from silver. This figure is set on an urn, while the rest of the composition includes silver flowerheads with stone settings, agate panels, ormolu borders, columns supported by crouching salamanders, four cast feet modeled as elephants and so on. Its strictly watchmaking elements are the enamel dial (with a steel beetle and poker hands) at the top, as well as a moonphase and a subsidiary gilt counter. The entire composition is 14.25 inches high. With such complexity, it comes as no surprise that the estimated price of this piece from the mid 18th century is between $240,000 and $400,000.
Musical Clock with a Turkish Dial and a French Table Regulator
Apart from this product, the auction will be offering another musical clock from the late 18th century and a French table regulator made at the start of the following century. The first piece, appraised between $64,000 and $96,000 is a six tune musical clock with a lovely glass cupola at the top, a silvered Turkish dial and two subsidiary dials at the top. This clock is likewise richly decorated and it is supplied with a triple fusee movement with a verge escapement and twelve hammers and bells that are used for playing the tunes. The third extraordinary piece at the Bonham’s clock auction will be a table regulator made in the manner of the watchmaker, Hubert Sarton from the Bishopric of Liege (located in present Belgium). This product is made in the shape of an inverted letter “Y” and equipped with four dials (it has a moonphase indication and date and days of the week counters) and a skeletonized twin train spring barrel movement with a grid iron pendulum. As expected, it also has lavish ornaments – gild and ormolu elements, marble pestals and a moonphase dial that depicts a nocturnal view of Vesuvius. This piece has the estimated price of $64,000-80,000.
Fine Watches, Wristwatches and Clocks Auction by Bonham’s in the States
The second December sales by Bonham’s will be held simultaneously on both coasts of the United States – the auction will be performed in salerooms in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The selection of pieces for this event is very wide and includes a wide variety of timekeepers by several brands: vintage watches by Cartier, Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe; handmade timepieces by Beat Haldiman and Kari Voutilainen; vintage as well as modern Rolex products; hand-painted enamel watches by Patek Philippe and Roger Dubois.
Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 Series 1 Watch
The highlight of the show will be Patek Philippe Reference 2499 piece which is considered as a pinnacle of watchmaking in the 1950s. Ever since the brand introduced Reference 1518 in 1941, a perpetual calendar chronograph watch has been continuously made by Patek Philippe. The model that will be sold at the auction, Reference 2499 was produced from 1950 to 1985. Albeit this model was made in just 349 copies before its production ceased, the model can be classified in four series. The watch that will be sold at the auction dates from 1955 and is a part of the first and the most valued series (whose distinctions are square chrono pushers, feuille hands and applied Arabic numerals).
It has a caliber with 23 jewels and the width of 13 lignes with overcoiled spring to bimetallic balance, as well as with a micrometer regulator. The watch includes a chrono feature, a perpetual calendar (with apertures for day and month and with a date ring) and a moonphase indication. It likewise has an 18k gold case with the diameter of 37mm, gold central hands and blued register hands, as well as a black leather strap with a buckle made from gold. Due to the excellent condition and horological relevance, this watch which so far had just one owner has the estimated price between $250,000 and $350,000.
Enamel Dials and Tripple Complications for Precision
The second valued piece at the sales is unsurprisingly another Patek Philippe product. This watch features a painted and cloisonné enamel dial that depicts American bald eagle. The platinum timekeeper with a self-winding movement is signed by the enameller, Anita Porchet and is priced between $90,000 and $100,000.
Similar value ($75,000 to $100,000) is estimated for F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain piece, an exquisite watchmaking feat that combines three very valued complications – tourbillon, remointoir and dead-beat seconds. Unlike tourbillon, the other two features are not that well known. Remontoir (or rewinder in English) is another refinement of a caliber that improves its accuracy. This device acts as a second spring and is periodically wounded by the mainspring. It thus enables a constant flow of power to the watch. The third feature of its movement Calibre 1403, dead beat seconds (secondes mortes), means that the seconds hand on the subsidiary counter moves incrementally at one seconds intervals, as it is the case with quartz watches. Besides, F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain has a power reserve indication (power storage of this hand-wound movement is 42 hours).
Handmade Watches by Beat Haldimann and Kari Voutilainen
Bonham’s auction will also be offering two fine handmade timekeepers. The first one is H1 platinum cased timekeeper by Beat Haldimann with a central flying one minute tourbillon. The timekeeper made in 2002 features a large and highly finished tourbillon that stands in contrast with subdued width of 39mm. The price of the wristwatch by the renowned craftsman with an atelier from Thun is estimated in the range of $60,000-$80,000. The other hand crafted timepiece is Chronomètre d’Observatoire (an observatory chronometer) by Kari Voutilainen. The steel cased timepiece with a white gold dial and a small seconds counter is equipped with a famous Pesuex 260 caliber which is opulently finished with Geneva stripes, anglage and perlage.
Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces Auction by Antiquorum
The third auction of the month will be held at Antiquorum’s headquarters in Manhattan. As one could expect, its highlight is yet another Patek Philippe – in this instance it is Reference 5016. This watch brings together a tourbillion, a perpetual calendar, moon phases and minute repeater complications and features a unique black and red dial that was specially commissioned by an important client whose name has not been revealed. The model in question – Reference 5016 – was introduced in 1993 and was the most complicated watch by the brand at the time. The incarnation of the model that will be put on sale this month is additionally exclusive because of its one-of-a-kind face.
This unique Patek Philippe timekeeper is placed inside a Calatrava-styled platinum case with the width of 37mm and the thickness of 15mm. Inside the case, there is a complex Caliber RTO 27 PS-QR made from 506 parts and with 28 jewels. The movement bears the Seal of Geneva mark and can be seen through the transparent case back. As far as the unique dial is concerned, it features a black background, apertures for indications of the days of the week, the month and the leap year indicated in red. Besides, it has a nice retrograde date display that arches inside the Breguet styled Arabic numerals and sports a subsidiary small seconds counter that integrates a moon phase indication. This unique watch is arguably the most interesting timekeeper that will be auctioned this month, which is underlined with its estimated value of between $500,000 and $700,000.
Two more Patek Philippe Watches with Six Figure Prices
Antiquorum will be selling two more Patek Philippe watches whose values are expressed with six figure prices. These are Reference 5270 and Reference 1463 models. The former is produced this year and includes a perpetual calendar, moon phases and chrono functions. The watch is set in a larger (42mm wide and 12mm thick) 18k white gold housing with a transparent case-back which shows off its Calibre CH 29-535 movement with 33 jewels. Its value is somewhere between $130,000-180,000. The latter model originates from the end of the 1940s. This rare piece is made with a 35 mm wide 18k yellow gold case, a champagne colored dial and it includes a chrono function operated by round pushers. As it is estimated, its value is in the region between $120,000 and $180,000.
This auction will offer something for the Rolex aficionados as well, namely Reference 6241 Daytona Paul Newman model. Dating from the 1960s, this yellow gold watch with the diameter of 37mm and the thickness of 14mm sports a black and champagne colored dial and a Rolex Oyster bracelet. It is driven by Calibre 722 movement with 17 jewels and shock resistance. As it is expected, its price will be between $75,000 and 125,000.
Interesting Pocket Watches
Among other interesting pieces at Antiquorum’s December sales, the selection will likewise include several pocket watches. Probably the most appealing of these will be Patek Philippe Split Seconds Chronograph piece in pink gold (made in 1992 and is possibly unique, valued at $40,000-$60,000), Westminster Chime Carillon Minute Repeater in yellow gold (originating from 1910 and attributed to Jean Richard, its estimate is $30,000-$50,000) and Vacheron Constantin enamel dress pocket watch that depicts a scene of Lake Geneva made by enameller Helen May Mercier ($20,000-$30,000).
Fine Watches and Wristwatches by Bonhams in London
The fourth and final major auction of the month will be organized in the Capital of the UK on December 18. Once again, it will be highlighted by a model from Patek Philippe – Reference 5079. Apart from this automatic minute repeater that could fetch almost a half of million of dollars, there will be another four models with six figure estimated prices. Two of those are made by the same brand, while the other two are made by George Daniels and Vacheron Constantin.
The Automatic Cathedral Minute Repeater – Patek Philippe Reference 5079
The star of the London’s auction, Patek Philippe Reference 5079, is one of the most intricate models by the renowned manufacturer, which is not flaunted, but in a way concealed through its subdued design. It was produced available only between 2002 and 2005 and it was produced in a very restricted series. The watch has a cathedral minute repeater with the gongs of the same kind as in its Sky-Moon Tourbillon model. It is driven by a self-winding Calibre R27PS movement which consists of 342 and can be seen through the exhibition case back. The 39-jeweled movement sits in a 39mm wide 18k yellow gold housing. What is even more interesting, the watch was never worn and it still comes in its original package. Each of these traits contributes to its very high value which is estimated between $400,000 and $480,000.
Complicated and Expensive
The next in line of lavish Patek Philippe products is Reference 5004. It is a precision timepiece which features a split-seconds chronograph, moon phases and perpetual calendar functions. Each of the complications is enabled thanks to its hand-wound Calibre 27-70 Q movement, with 407components and 28 jewels, which is hand-finished. The lovely watch with a silvered dial set in a round 36mm 18k yellow gold housing derives from a limited series that includes only 12 pieces. Its future owner will have to pay between $160,000 and $220,000.
As far as the price is concerned, the third most important product at the sales will be Vacheron Constantin astronomical dress timekeeper. This keyless watch in a 51mm wide 18k yellow gold case is supplied with a perpetual calendar, phase and age of the moon indications, and a split-seconds chronograph. The piece with the reference number 6526 was constructed in only six pieces. It originates from 1964, in the period when these triple complication pieces were still considered as a high-point of the Swiss watchmaking. Its estimated value is between $130,000 and $160,000.
There will be one more highly interesting watch by Patek Philippe at this auction. It is Reference 3970 model, a successor of previously mentioned 2499 watch (the star of the Bonham’s U.S. auction). Similarly, it has a perpetual calendar, moon phases and leap year indications. This piece is fitted into a platinum case (36mm wide) which houses its manually-wound Calibre CH27-70Q movement with 24 jewels which is adjusted for temperature, position and isochronism. The value of the timekeeper is appraised between $110,000 and $140,000.
George Daniel’s Creation and a Couple of Rolexes
The next exquisite watch at this auction features the same value as the last one. It is George Daniels Millenium timekeeper. The watch by the legendary watchmaker and the inventor of the Co-Axial escapement features his invention and is one of just seven Millenium timekeepers made in white gold. This horological product features automatic winding and a calendar counter. Other interesting products at this auction will be two Rolex Daytona Paul Newman models: Reference 6262 manually-winding chronograph ($64,000-$96,000) produced solely in 1970, and Reference 6239 with the same value that was sold in 1971 atFalkland Islands.