Unique Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos Newson sells for US$425,000, and Memovox for US$365,000, at (RED) auction

Sotheby's brought the hammer down on the 43 lots at the (RED) charity auction yesterday, raising US$12.9 million for charity. Amongst the top lots were the Jaeger-LeCoultre Newson Atmos and Memovox Deep Sea.

Curated by Apple design guru Jony Ive and industrial design superstar Marc Newson, the (RED) auction was the brainchild of Bono, and intended to benefit The Global Fund. Most of the 43 lots on sale were unique or special items, individually selected by Ive and Newson. They including two timepieces from Jaeger-LeCoultre, which has previously collaborated with Newson in creating a series of Atmos clocks.

Amongst the most valuable items was the Marc Newson Atmos 561 clock by Jaeger-LeCoultre, which sold for US$425,000. Housed in clear Baccarat crystal shaped like a ice cube, the Newson Atmos was customised by Newson himself. The red accents and lettering made it distinct and unique from the regular, limited edition series.

And the Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox Tribute to Deep Sea alarm watch with a red dial sold for an equally astounding US$365,000. This wristwatch is actually the first in a series of three, hence numbered 01/03, with the other two owned by Ive and Newson.

Amongst the other top lots were US$1.93 million for a white and red Steinway grand piano, and US$1.81 million for a unique Leica M rangefinder.

And the solid rose gold Apple earbuds sold for US$461,000. Such prices are reflective of the power of the celebrities behind the auction, and hardly reflective of the brands themselves. The same JLC timepieces put in a watch-only auction would struggle to achieve a fraction of the rich results. That being said, (RED) was for a good cause. The rest of the results are available from Sotheby’s.

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A stay at Hotel L’Orologio, the watch-themed boutique hotel of Florence

Owned by a Italian businessman Sandro Fratini, the Hotel L'Orologio is a boutique hotel in Florence, Italy. Inspired by watch collecting, with horological objects scattered throughout the hotel, especially of the owner's three favourite brands, Patek Philippe, Rolex and Vacheron Constantin.

Sitting just across from the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella and a stone’s throw from the main railway station of Florence, the Hotel L’Orologio is a luxe, boutique hotel owned by Sandro Fratini, a businessman whose forebears founded Italian clothing company Rifle, best known for its jeans. His passion is watch collecting, and the Hotel L’O’ is an embodiment of that. Specifically, the Hotel L’Orologio is a reflection of a love for twentieth century wristwatches from the most eminent brands like Patek Philippe and Rolex.

Step into the lobby and the horological theme is immediately apparent. There is an enormous Vacheron Constantin clock on the wall, as well as display cases filled with watch paraphernalia.

A working model showing the mechanics of a watch movement

And the bookshelves in the lounge are stocked with what else but watch books and auction catalogues.

All the walls, even the stairwells, are decorated with watch-related photos and prints, including a room lined with portraits of historical figures and modern day celebrities with their watches, mainly Rolex but with a handful of other makes.

Framed Rolex silk scarves
A photo of Rolex bracelets

The watch theme is all encompassing and complete. Even the glass doors to the bar have Rolex Explorer II door handles. Most of the china in the dining room is likewise watch-themed. Even the taps in the room bathrooms are shaped like Rolex Oyster screw-down crowns.

The doors leading to the bar

Each floor is dedicated to a particular brand, namely Patek Philippe, Rolex and Vacheron Constantin, which are the owner’s favourites. Patek Philippe, however, gets two floors, since it is Patek.

The Rolex floor

In the lift lobby of the Vacheron Constantin floor

Besides the brand-themed decor on each floor, each of the 54 rooms is named after a notable watch of the brand, for instance room 213 is named after the Rolex ref. 6084 “Drago” with a cloisonné enamel dial depicting a dragon. And the interior of each room is decorated with prints of the watch it is named after.

The Rolex ref. 6084 with enamel dial

All the major vintage timepieces have their own room. The Vacheron Constantin ref. 4764 “Cioccolatone” is one example, and of course the Patek Philippe ref. 2499.

The nightly rates for the Hotel L’Orologio are in the region of €300-400. They are pricey but par for the course for a boutique hotel of this standard in Florence.  – SJX

A view of the Piazza Santa Maria Novella from the top floor of the hotel

There is a subtle irony in using multiple world time clocks to display world times

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