Hands-On with Highlights from Phillips’ Geneva Watch Auction

Ten of the best from the sale.

Phillip’s upcoming The Geneva Watch Auction: Six is a relatively compact 157 lots – supplemented by 50 watches in the Heuer thematic auction – that is typically diverse. While the headline lots are inevitably million-dollar Patek Philippes, the catalogue includes several extremely interesting watches – including the landmark Omega tourbillon wristwatch from 1947.

Here are ten picks from the sale, with something for everyone, from an Urwerk in black platinum to a Meylan air force chronograph.


Lot 114 – Patek Philippe ref. 1463 signed “Beyer”

The Patek Philippe ref. 1463 was the gentleman’s sports chronograph of the 1940s and 1950s, larger than average and equipped with a water-resistant, screw-down back. In fact, when Roger Dubuis first started making watches under his own name, the inspiration for his Hommage watch was the ref. 1463.

Several things make this particular ref. 1463 special. First is the fact that it’s the earliest known, dating to 1942, having been bought by a Swede who wanted a watch to wear while sailing (he must have been a gentleman).

Patek Philippe 1463 Beyer Phillips 1

The dial is also signed “Beyer”, the Zurich watch retailer that was decades ago perhaps the biggest Patek Philippe retailer in the world and still run by a Beyer today. No other ref. 1463 signed “Beyer” is known.

Patek Philippe 1463 Beyer Phillips 2

Another detail is the profile of the lugs, which are identical to the straight lugs of the steel 1463s, making this unlike any other gold 1463.

Patek Philippe 1463 Beyer Phillips 4

And then there is the dial, which was originally silver and has now aged to a dark shade, perhaps from all that time spent on the deck of a sailboat. The patina is extreme and not for everyone, but intriguing enough that someone will pony up the relatively modest estimate for this.

Patek Philippe 1463 Beyer Phillips 3

The last unusual element is the bracelet, which came 26 years after the watch was originally purchased yet is entirely original. Made by Gay Freres and signed by Patek Philippe, the intricate woven gold bracelet was a gift to the owner from the daughter in 1968. And now the watch and bracelet are being offered for sale by the owner’s heirs. The estimate is SFr80,000 to SFr140,000.


Lot 120 – Patek Philippe ref. 1526 pink gold

A relatively rare watch, yet not outrageously expensive because of its smallish size, the Patek Philippe ref. 1526 can be had for relatively little money or a lot more. This example falls squarely into the latter category.

Patek Philippe 1526 pink gold Phillips 1

For one it’s pink gold, being one of just four in the metal made by Patek Philippe. But more importantly it is in strikingly crisp condition, both the case and dial.

Patek Philippe 1526 pink gold Phillips 2

Patek Philippe 1526 pink gold Phillips 3

The case retains its original shape and textures, along with both hallmarks prominently visible. Similarly the dial is clean and unmarred.

Patek Philippe 1526 pink gold Phillips 4

Patek Philippe 1526 pink gold Phillips

Phillips has sold four ref. 1526s in pink gold in the last two years, with the lowest priced one being relatively worn and going for just SFr150,000. In contrast, the upcoming example is estimated at SFr200,000 to SFr400,000.


Lot 149 – Rolex Daytona ref. 16528 “The Big Blue” or “Chairman”

This 1995 Rolex Daytona ref. 16528 is a Zenith El Primero-powered model in 18k yellow gold, distinguished only by the metallic blue dial, an outstandingly serene and handsome finish. Thought to have been made as a trial product that was then canned, the handful of watches made were reputedly given to key people in Rolex and its business partners.

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That rarity gives this an estimate of SFr100,000 to SFr200,000, though the last time one came up for sale it went for almost US$300,000.

Lot 160 – Urwerk UR-202S Black Platinum

Perhaps the only big ticket watch from an independent watchmaker in the sale, this Urwerk UR-202S is a one of a kind creation in thoroughly unusual colours.

The hefty case is platinum but coated black, while the hour numerals on the orbiting cubes are bright red. And the minute track is in green Super-Luminova, a combination not seen on any other Urwerk.

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Now synonymous with Urwerk, the satellite cube time display is of course descended from the Harry Winston Opus V, and still one of the most remarkable inventions in contemporary watchmaking. Made in 2014, this was one of the last UR-202s made, the model having been succeeded by the UR-210.

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The estimate is SFr50,000 to SFr70,000.


Lot 186 – Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 570 two-tone “Eberhard Milan”

This watch last sold at auction for just over US$500,000, having been put up for sale in 2012 by Gordon Bethune, the former chief executive of Continental Airlines and once a prominent watch collector who sold the bulk of his collection in the same auction.

Patek Philippe 570 two-tone Eberhard 1

Several features set this 1943 Calatrava apart from the rest. The first is the two-tone case, a combination of steel and pink gold that’s a largish 36.5mm in diameter. While two-tone cases are sometimes déclassé, this is a formally handsome watch, thanks in part to the glossy black gilt dial, another distinguishing quality of the watch.

Patek Philippe 570 two-tone Eberhard 3

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Furthermore the dial is signed “Eberhard-Milan”, a now defunct watch retailer that once sold many a high-end watch.

This has an estimate of SFr250,000 to SFr500,000.


Lot 187 – Patek Philippe ref. 2499 pink gold, third series

No self-respecting watch auction in Geneva is complete without a Patek Philippe ref. 2499, and so it is that the catalogue has one. But this is no budget ref. 2499.

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It is a third series example in pink gold, one of just six in the metal known. And its particular type of hour marker with lengthwise facets are only found on two of the six examples.

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Beyond its rarity the watch is also in exceptionally crisp condition, with the case having its original contours and details, and the dial being remarkably clean.

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Consequently, the estimate is SFr1.5m to SFr3.0m.


Lot 214 – IWC ref. 325 “Portugieser”

Getting its name from the fact that these oversized wristwatches were originally ordered by a Portuguese client in the 1930s, the Portugieser is now one of IWC’s hallmark timepieces. This lot is an original Portugieser watch dating from 1946, though not actually Portuguese, having been delivered to the brand’s distributor in Slovakia.

IWC Portugieser 325 Phillips 1

IWC Portugieser 325 Phillips 4

Like most other Portugieser watches, the 42mm case is steel, but the dial and hands are unusual in having radium markings.

IWC Portugieser 325 Phillips 2

IWC Portugieser 325 Phillips 3

Inside is the hand-wound cal. 98, the same calibre found in the IWC 125th anniversary Portugieser Jubilee limited edition of 1993, which used new old stock movements. Though the movement synonymous with the Portugieser, the cal. 98 was found in second generation Portugieser watches beginning in the 1940s, while those from the 1930s used the cal. 74.

With IWC not an obsessively collected as say, 10 years ago, this ref. 325 is not outrageously priced. The estimate is SFr30,000 to SFr60,000.


Lot 231 – Patek Philippe ref. 2497G

Another of the heavyweight Patek Philippe watches in the sale is the ref. 2497 perpetual calendar in white gold. First sold by the original owner, reputedly to be a member of South-East Asian royalty, sixteen years ago, the watch has only changed hands once since then.

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It is one of just three ref. 2497s in white gold known, and is made even more unusual by the original white gold bracelet with a Florentine finish.

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Notably, the end-links of the bracelet have tiny grooves to allow access to the recessed pushers on the band of the case, allowing the owner to set the calendar without having to remove the bracelet.

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While the watch does exhibit faint wear, it feels reassuringly original. It has an estimate of SFr1.5m to SFr3.0m.


Lot 242 – Meylan Type A-7 chronograph

Supplied by three watchmakers to the US Army Air Corps for about a decade starting in the late 1930s, the Type A-7 chronograph is a strikingly original timepiece conceived for aircraft navigators to operate with ease while flying.

Longines, Meylan and Gallet produced the Type A-7 for the US military, but because all three marques made the Type A-7 to the same military specifications, the watches are essentially identical.

Meylan Type A-7 Chronograph Phillips 2

Meylan Type A-7 Chronograph Phillips 1

Despite the Swiss name – Meylan is a common surname in the Vallee de Joux – this Meylan was actually an American watch importer based in New York that is still in operation as a stopwatch retailer. The Longines versions are by far the most valuable, typically selling for well over US$50,000, making this Meylan example comparatively good value.

Meylan Type A-7 Chronograph Phillips 3

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The 51mm case is chrome-plated and in fine condition, despite such cases when relatively prone to wear.

It has an estimate of SFr20,000 to SFr40,000.


Lot 255 – Patek Philippe ref. 2597

This three-hand ref. 2597 is a prime example of Patek Philippe’s “Travel Time” dual time zone watch. Designed by Geneva engineer Louis Cottier, also the inventor of the world time wristwatch, the dual time zone in its second generation featured an extra hour hand for the second time zone (in contrast, the earlier models had a single adjustable hour hand).

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Dating from 1961, the watch was only sold in 1980 and appears to have never been serviced, explaining its pristine condition. In fact, Phillips says the case is likely “unpolished”, a credible claim. And not only is the watch in an exemplary state of preservation, it is also in pink gold.

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The estimate is SFr300,000 to SFr500,000.


Preview and auction

The preview exhibition takes place daily from November 9 to 12 at La Reserve in Geneva. The auction is on November 11 for lots 101 to 150, and November 12 for the remaining lots, also at the same venue. For the full catalogue visit phillips.com.


This was brought to you by Phillips Watches.

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Hands-On with Bell & Ross BR-X1 White Hawk

The matte greys and whites of private aviation.

Characterised by clear sapphire dials and a complex, multi-material case by one of Switzerland’s best specialists, the Bell & Ross BR-X1 has lent itself to innumerable versions, with cases made of sapphire crystal and exotic wood.

And now the brand has introduced the BR-X1 White Hawk, which draws on the colours of private jets – though the watch is way more affordable than what a private jet owner might usually wear – becoming the civil aviation chromatic opposite of the military-inspired BR-X1 Black Titanium.

Bell Ross BR X1 White Hawk 10

Since its debut in 2014, the BR-X1 – named after the Bell X-1, the first plane to break the sound barrier in 1947 – has been an avenue for experimentation and the brand’s top of the line range. Simply put, if it was the BR-01 that put Bell & Ross on the map as a maker of aviation watches, the BR-X1 gave it rocket fuel.

Bell Ross BR X1 White Hawk 6

The White Hawk is an unusual relative to the other BR-X1 watches in that its colour palette is comprised of whites and silver, giving it a light, clean look, in contrast to most technical-looking watches that are dark and imposing.

Measuring 45mm by 45mm, the White Hawk is large but the size is alleviated by the restrained colours. As with all square Bell & Ross watch cases, the White Hawk case is made by G&F Châtelain, the sister company of Bell & Ross in Chanel’s stable of luxury names, and the same company that makes cases for the likes of MB&F and Richard Mille.

The case is titanium, micro-blasted to a smooth matte finish and framed by a matte white ceramic band. It features the X1’s signature rocker pushers that are pivoted on one end and topped with grey rubber inserts for grip.

Bell Ross BR X1 White Hawk 8

Unlike the smaller BR02 watches which have bezel screws that are actually nuts, leaving them all perfectly aligned, here the case is held together by functional screws, explaining the random alignment of the screw slots.

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A sapphire disc forms the dial, with all of its markings floating over the wheels and gears of the movement. At nine o’clock sits the minute counter in the form of a turbine-shaped disc, while the date is framed in white at six o’clock.

The hour markers sit on the chapter ring for the minute track, which is in turn adjacent to the flange for the tachymetre. Like the rest of the chronograph functions, “tachymeter” is colour-coded in red.

And because of the movement has a dark grey finish while the rest of the dial is white or red, legibility is excellent.

Bell Ross BR X1 White Hawk 3

Bell Ross BR X1 White Hawk 4

The movement is the self-winding cal. BR-CAL.313 found in all iterations of the X1. It’s actually an ETA automatic with a chronograph module by Dubois-Depraz on top; the modular construction explains the high jewel count of 56 rubies.

Bell Ross BR X1 White Hawk 1

Though other brands utilise a similar movement, the chronograph module has been customised for Bell & Ross, most obviously with the central bridge open-worked to form an “X”.

Bell Ross BR X1 White Hawk 7

Its solid case back features a tiny porthole showing the balance wheel, and like the other BR watch describes the materials that form the case, a feature inspired by military aviation equipment.

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Price and Availability

The Bell & Ross BR-X1 White Hawk (ref. BRX1-WHC-TI) is a limited edition of 250 pieces and costs US$19,700 or S$28,800. For more information, please visit bellross.com.

 

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Novel and Notable Picks From Only Watch 2017

Eight highlights from the horological charity auction.

Only Watch comes around every two years, recruiting watchmakers to create one of a kind watches that will be sold to fund medical research. This year Only Watch takes place under the aegis of Christie’s in Geneva, with 50 lots slated to go under the hammer.

As is usual with Only Watch, the variety of the offer is high, but the appeal varied. Watchmakers like Breguet and F.P. Journe put together genuinely unique watches, while Richard Mille offers a letter of support published in the catalogue, while Dewitt is leaving the dial design of its entry to the buyer (which is probably bad news for its aesthetic sensibility).

For various reasons Only Watch 2017 might be the last, and the top lot will help it go out with a bang. That will undoubtedly be the Patek Philippe ref. 5208T in titanium, a distinctly modern looking grand complication that’s extremely complex and mildly sporty. But the catalogue includes several arguably more interesting, and more affordable timepieces – here’s a look at eight of them.

All lots in Only Watch are sold without buyer’s premium and with no reserve. Proceeds from the sale will go towards funding research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy.


Lot 1 – Agenhor Carpe Diem (ref. AGH-6361-OW)

This is a chronograph table clock, a large, 84mm plastic sphere containing the cal. AGH-6361. But it’s not ordinary movement, being arguably the most ingenious chronograph developed in recent years, the very same on inside the Singer Reimagined Track 1.

The product of Geneva complications specialist Agenhor, led by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, the calibre displays elapsed time on the central axis. On this table clock the two dark grey outer discs show the time, while the silver inner discs indicate elapsed hours, minutes and seconds.

Agenhor Chronograph Only Watch 1

Agenhor Chronograph Only Watch 3

More notable than the condensed display is the clever construction of the movement, which is essentially a donut-shaped base calibre with the chronograph bits in the centre. Boasting several patents for details like the teeth profiles and a tooth-free clutch, the movement is also visually impressive. It’s dense, complex and also finishing to the criteria of the Poincon de Geneve, though it does bear have the hallmark, not having been certified.

Agenhor Chronograph Only Watch 2

The movement-in-a-ball concept was the brainchild of a pair of students pursuing watch design at Haute Ecole d’Art et de Design of Geneva (HEAD), the city’s school of art and design. Not the most practical of timepieces, but perhaps a case can be custom made?

This one carries an estimate of SFr18,000 to SFr28,000.


Lot 2 – WOSTEP Watch Ref. 100

Short for “Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program”, WOSTEP is Switzerland’s leading watchmaking academy and training programme, having produced several of the most prominent names in the business.

WOSTEP watch Ref. 100 Only Watch 1

Several of its graduates have banded together to create the WOSTEP Watch, a pocket watch with its case signed by the alumni involved. The names on the bezel and case back include several well known to aficionados of independent watchmaking, Stephen Forsey, Stephen McDonnell, Peter Speake-Marin and Kari Voutilainen.

WOSTEP watch Ref. 100 Only Watch 2

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The watch itself is a 54mm steel pocket watch with a fired enamel dial and a wonderfully finished hand-wound movement that’s likely based on a Unitas. While the base calibre is entry-level, the movement has been elaborately dressed up with frosted bridges and even a black-polished pallet fork bridge below the balance wheel.

WOSTEP watch Ref. 100 Only Watch 3

Like the Agenhor sphere-chronograph above, the WOSTEP Watch is not strikingly practical, but again might be a candidate for a custom made case. The estimate is SFr12,000 to SFr22,000.


Lot 4 – Voutilainen 28S

A variant of Voutilainen’s signature wristwatch, this is distinguished by the titanium case and sandwich dial (explaining the “S” suffix”).

Voutilainen 28S Only Watch 1

The 39mm case is polished titanium, an unusual but not unique case material for Voutilainen; it’s typically only used for its limited or one-off creations. More unusual is the dial, which is solid silver and coated a matte black.

The hour markers are actually cut-outs, revealing the white Super-Luminova beneath; the hands and minute track are also painted with Super-Luminova to match.

A feature taken from vintage watches that bestows a slightly sporty touch, the sandwich dial is most often associated with Panerai but is sometimes found on other timepieces from the 1930s and 1940s. While the dial is a first for Voutilainen, it’s not likely to be the only one, since Voutilainen owns a dial factory.

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Inside is the Vingt-8 calibre that’s hand-wound and impeccably decorated, here finished with a dark grey ruthenium plating on the bridges.

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This has an estimate of SFr55,000 to SFr85,000.


Lot 6 – Tudor Black Bay Bronze One

The last one-off Tudor for Only Watch sold for over US$300,000 in 2015, making it the most expensive Tudor ever. That result was partially due to the fact that the 2015 watch was the first ever unique wristwatch made by Tudor, giving it a tremendous novelty factory. The new Black Bay Bronze One is arguably more interesting than its predecessor, but being the second instalment, might not fetch quite so high a price, though it will inevitably reach six figures.

It’s a left-handed take on Tudor’s popular bronze dive watch, which is ordinarily brown but recently made in a blue special edition, here matched with a military green dial and bezel. The colour combination is not admittedly novel, but it is an attractive look.

Tudor Black Bay Bonze One Only Watch 1

Tudor Black Bay Bonze One Only Watch 2

Most of the rest of the watch is identical to the stock model, but the winner of the Bronze One gets an air ticket and invitation to visit Tudor’s headquarters in Geneva (which is actually inside the Rolex facility).

The estimate is SFr4500 to SFr5500.


Lot 20 – Laurent Ferrier & Urwerk Arpal One/LF-UR1

The Arpal One is essentially an Urwerk UR-105 dressed up in a case designed by Laurent Ferrier. Unsurprisingly, the case is sleek with rounded corners, and reminiscent of the soft forms of the signature Laurent Perrier Galet case (galet translates as “pebble”).

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The watch is powered by the Urwerk cal. UR5.03, an automatic with a wandering hours display in the form of four satellite discs, while the case is made of Arpal+, a white gold alloy that’s harder than normal.

Urwerk Arpal One LF-UR1 Only Watch 3

But because it is a UR-105 at heart, the resulting watch is extremely large. Already sizeable in the original case, the Arpal One is even larger due to the extended brancards on each side of the case that extend into large lugs. The case measures some 60.8mm long and 40.9mm wide, making it substantially larger than the Urwerk it is based on.

Urwerk Arpal One LF-UR1 Only Watch 1

The estimate is SFr50,000 to SFr70,000.


Lot 32 – F.P. Journe Chronographe Monopoussoir Rattrapante Bleu

Perhaps the second most expensive lot in the auction after the titanium Patek Philippe “grand comp”, the F.P. Journe split-seconds chronograph is unlike any other watch the brand has made.

FP Journe Rattrapante Bleu Only Watch 1

To start with, the cal. 1517 inside is entirely new and developed for this Only Watch creation. A large 15 ligne calibre, it’s hand-wound with an 80-hour power reserve and constructed quite traditionally.

FP Journe Rattrapante Bleu Only Watch 3

It’s also a monopusher chronograph, with the button at two for start, stop and reset, while the second button at four o’clock is for the split-seconds. While the watch is a one-off creation, it is probable that some variant of the movement will make it into serial production at a later date.

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The 44mm tantalum case is also a first, being the largest case F.P. Journe has ever made. The same can be said of the brilliant blue dial, which has a similar treatment to the Chronometre Bleu, but here with tachymetric and telemetric scales in yellow and orange. Because the dial is so large, the chronograph sub-dials feel noticeably small.

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Taken together the various elements of the watch give it a look that’s significantly more obvious than the average F.P. Journe timepiece. The reason for the unusual styling might be that there are only a handful of clients who will pay top dollar for such a watch, and the watchmaker is perhaps catering to their tastes.

This carries an estimate of SFr200,000 to SFr400,000.


Lot 41 – Breguet Classique Quantième Perpétuel en Ligne ref. 7715

The Breguet linear perpetual calendar is an underappreciated watch, having been discontinued several years ago with no one noticing. What sets it apart from other perpetual calendars is the in-line display, which gives the dial a pleasing symmetry and conciseness usually lacking in perpetual.

Breguet Linear Perpetual 7715 Only Watch 1

Unlike other perpetual calendars with simplified displays the linear perpetual is neither windows-based nor condensed, in other words it indicates all elements of the calendar. While the original linear perpetual was a smallish 36mm, the Only Watch version is 39mm, making it eminently more wearable and also distinctly different from the stock model.

The indications for the calendar have been enlarged – even the day of the week disc is bigger – to suit the scale of the case, which leads to a minor overlap between the month and date display. It doesn’t detract from the look, but the original model had no overlap at all.

Breguet Linear Perpetual 7715 Only Watch 2

And the cal. 502QPLT inside is not the basic version of the calibre, instead it is fully and elaborately engraved. Unlike the movement in the original model, this calibre also has a silicon hairspring and pallet fork.

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Though a unique piece the style of the watch is typically Breguet, with a fluted case band, thin lugs and a hobnail guilloche dial that’s actually silver-plated solid gold.

Perhaps the only downside to the watch is the hefty estimate of SFr80,000 to SFr100,000.


Lot 46 – Barbier-Mueller Mosaïque

Made entirely by F.P. Journe, the Barbier-Mueller Mosaïque is named after one of Geneva’s most prominent families, wealthy real estate owners whose discerning eye for tribal and primitive art led to the world class Barbier-Mueller Museum. It was born from a request by Stephane Barbier-Mueller, followed by a suggestion from Francois-Paul Journe to base it on a 19th century mosaic inlay pocket watch.

Barbier Mueller Only Watch 2017 1

The Mosaïque is actually an F.P. Journe Chronometre Souverain in disguise, having the same hand-wound movement, but with the rose gold case and dial tiled in semi-precious stone.

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Barbier Mueller Only Watch 2017 3

More than 250 tiny pieces of red, black, white and green jasper cover all surfaces of the watch, even the flanks of the case and hinged back. According to Francois-Paul Journe, the case and dial were extraordinarily difficult to construct, the most difficult he has encountered in his career.

Barbier Mueller Only Watch 2017 4

To accommodate the stone mosaic the case is slightly larger than the Chronometre Souverain, measuring 41mm in diameter and also higher.

While not a unique piece, only a handful will be produced, with several going to members of the Barbier-Mueller family. This is estimated at SFr110,000 to SFr200,000.


Auction and bidding

All lots will be on display from November 9 to 11 at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva. The Only Watch 2017 auction takes place November 11, 2017 at the same venue.

The full catalogue and online bidding is available at Christie’s.


 

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