The very first sale under the leadership of recently appointed department head Sam Hines, Sotheby’s upcoming Hong Kong watch auction is a 424-lot event with something for everyone. As is typical for a Hong Kong watch auction, the sale includes an assortment of desirable vintage and modern watches, including a Rolex Daytona “Lemon” as well as a Patek Philippe ref. 5970G made for Eric Clapton.
Here’s a selection of sale highlights from two preeminent names in fine watchmaking – A. Lange & Söhne and Patek Philippe. The full catalogue is also available online at Sotheby’s.
Lot 2779 – Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5719/1G-001
Set with almost 10 carats of brilliant cut diamonds, as well as three baguettes for the quarters, this Patek Philippe Nautilus is a value proposition as far as diamond-set Nautilus watches go. That might be hard to believe, but this is almost half the price of similar Nautilus models decorated with baguette diamonds or other coloured gemstones.
Almost every visible surface of the watch, save for the “ears” of the case, is paved with diamonds.
Another notable feature are the large black lacquered hands that give the watch a strangely sensible degree of legibility. They sit on a dial that retains the signature linear motif of the Nautilus, except instead of stamped guilloche it’s made up of rows of diamonds.
The watch itself is identical in size to the steel ref. 5711, with the case and bracelet in 18k white gold. Inside is the cal. 324 automatic movement.
The diamond-set Nautilus is estimated at HK$1.5m to HK$2.0m, or US$192,000 to US$256,000.
Lot 2814 – Patek Philippe ‘Year of the Dog’ cloisonné enamel ref. 5076P-027
Exactly a dozen years have passed since this was introduced, or one entire cycle of the Chinese Zodiac, which is why 2018 is the Year of the Dog once again. This watch is part of a set of four, each bearing a cloisonné enamel dial with the same dog motif in different colours.
All four watches are up for sale as individual lots in the auction. The most appealing colours are undoubtedly the blue and red dials, which mean they might sell for more than their counterparts in white and brown.
The cloisonné enamel dial is finely executed, with refined forms and vivid colours. Unlike some other Patek Philippe Rare Handcrafts watches, it is unsigned, leaving the identity of the enamel artist unknown.
The watch case is rectangular and platinum, and identical to that of the discontinued Gondolo ref. 5109, which was never popular but by virtue of its shape makes an ideal canvas for artisanal decoration on the dial.
This has an estimate of HK$450,000 to HK$650,000, or US$58,000 to US$83,500. All four watches (lots 2813 to 2816) in the set carry the same estimate.
Lot 2862 – A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst
Introduced as a limited edition of just 30 watches in 2012, the Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst is the most outstanding amongst the various iterations of Lange’s digital watch. In the six years since its launch several has appeared at auction, consistently selling for above the retail price, albeit with varying premiums, reaching a high of almost US$230,000 in 2015. The last few to go under the hammer sold for relatively less than the preceding watches, which might make this one – which is numbered “03/30” – a good buy.
While functionally and technically identical to the stock Zeitwerk, the Handwerkskunst edition features unusual decor, front and back. The solid gold dial is decorated with a heavily texture tremblage engraving, which includes the logo and power reserve scale in high relief.
On the back the decoration is similarly elaborate. The lettering on the case back is hand-engraved, while the movement bridges are finished with a fine, grained finish that is also hand-engraved. Similarly, the balance and escape wheel cock feature relief engraving, done by hand naturally, as opposed to the intaglio engraving found on ordinary movements. And lastly, the pallet fork and escape wheel are hardened 18k white gold.
The Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst has an estimate of HK$900,000 to HK$1.2m, or US$116,000 to US$154,000.
Lot 2877A – A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Cellini
One of the earliest Lange 1 limited editions – and perhaps the first of the model with luminous dial and hands – the Lange 1 Cellini was made for the 25th anniversary of the eponymous New York watch retailer in 2002.
Though the dial sticks to the traditional Lange 1 design, it is unusual in being glossy white lacquer, with silvered borders for each of the sub-dials. Additionally, the time, power reserve and hands are all luminous.
The platinum case is the standard 39.5mm, with an unusual commemorative engraving on the three-quarter plate; in contrast, most limited editions feature stock movements.
The estimate is HK$240,000 to HK$400,000, or US$30,700 to US$51,500.
Lot 2891 Patek Philippe 10-Day Tourbillon ‘Rare Handcrafts’ ref. 5101/100R-001
One of the few complicated wristwatch in Patek Philippe’s Rare Handcrafts catalogue – mostly made up of time-only watches with exceptionally elaborate decoration on the case or dial – the ref. 5101/100R-001 is the 10-Day Tourbillon with a fully engraved case. It was launched in 2011 in rose or white gold, as well as platinum, with a limited number made; this example is in rose gold.
Inspired by Middle Eastern motifs, the engraving covers the entirety of the elongated, Art Deco case, right down to the steps on each flank and the case back. And the decor even extends to the leaf-shaped hands, which are finished with exceedingly fine engraving.
The movement inside is identical to the stock model, but it remains a gorgeous calibre. The finishing is top class, right down to the finest of details like the pointed corners on base of the tourbillon bridge, or the black polished escape wheel bridge.
The estimate is HK$1.2m to HK$1.8m, or US$154,000 to US$231,000, which is a large sum of money but nevertheless a significant chunk less than its retail price, making this a comparatively good buy.
Lot 2913 – Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon ref. 5002R
Launched in 2001 and now discontinued (having been replaced by the ref. 6002), the Sky Moon Tourbillon was the original Patek Philippe uber-complication wristwatch – big, bold and extremely complex. The double-sided case is 43.5mm in diameter, making it one of the largest Patek Philippe wristwatches, with the Calatrava cross being the central decorative motif, repeated in relief on the case band and in guilloche on the dial.
Depending on how they are counted, the movement has a dozen complications, including a tourbillon, minute repeater, perpetual calendar and star chart, which is shown on the back of the watch. And like all of Patek Philippe’s top of the line complications, the repeater has cathedral, rather than ordinary, gongs. That means the gongs circle the movement almost twice, instead of just once, giving them a more sonorous tone.
The Sky Moon Tourbillon was slightly out of fashion for a spell, with most examples selling for below the retail price at auction, or failing to find a buyer. But it appears to enjoyed a rise in desirability of late, with Sotheby’s having sold one for US$1.41m in October 2017, exceeding the original retail price. This example is complete with boxes, documents and all accessories, and is estimated here are HK$7.80m to HK$12.0m, or US$1.00m to US$1.54m.
Sale and exhibition information
Highlights from the auction will be on show in Taipei on March 17 and 18 at the Hua Nan Bank International Convention Center.
All the lots will then be on show in Hong Kong from March 29 to April 1 at the New Wing of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wanchai, Hong Kong.
Sotheby’s Important Watches Hong Kong auction takes place on April 2, 2018 in the same location. The full catalogue, along with online bidding, is available here.
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