The first Harry Winston Opus 3 at auction

Harry Winston Opus 3 in rose gold

Late last year – nearly a decade after its launch in 2003 – the first few Opus 3 from Harry Winston were delivered. Conceived by Vianney Halter but far too ambitious a concept for the technology available, the Opus 3 almost became a watch of myth and legend.

A rose gold version will go under the hammer at Christie’s in Hong Kong at end May, with an estimate of US$75,000-150,000. I reckon it will go for about US$120,000 at the low end, possibly more.

Several other Opus watches, including rare diamond-set pieces, all owned by the same collector, will be offered at the same sale. The other highlights are surely the diamond pave Opus 5 by Urwerk, and the Opus 6 tourbillon by Greubel Forsey.

For those wondering if the Opus 3 has changed since its 2003 prototype, it certainly has. The watch is larger; it seems wider and thicker though the overall form is the same. Because of its bigger size, the six windows are less pronounced than in the original iteration, so the watch has lost some of its goggle-eyed look.

Despite the changed dimensions, the Opus 3 still looks distinctive and attractive. Each of the six portholes are still set deep, so the numbers are only visible when looked at straight on. And seeing the seconds jump from 57, 58, 59 to the next minute is impressive.

So many watchmakers have been consulted throughout the project in the quest to make it work, but I believe it was finally Renaud Papi that solved all the problems associated with jumping discs and torque. In the nine years since the Opus 3 was first launched, Vianney Halter has gone on to present only one new model while the other key person behind the watch, Max Busser, has gone on to create an entire brand, most recently working with Stepan Sarpaneva. Seeing the Opus 3 is really a blast from the past. – SJX

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