Sotheby’s to Sell A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Service Watch in Steel [Withdrawn]

The myth is real.

Long before the Odysseus “sport-elegant” watch, A. Lange & Söhne already had a serially produced timepiece in stainless steel. In the late 1990s, just as the brand was rapidly gaining traction as the preeminent German watchmaker – remember that it had only unveiled its wristwatch collection in 1994 – the company rolled out the fabled 1815 service watch.

(NB: Sotheby’s has withdrawn the watch from the sale.)

The rationale behind the watch was simple: a loaner for clients who had sent in their Lange wristwatch for servicing. Staying true to the exceptionally high standards the start-up brand had established for itself, the loaner was not a disposable or cut-rate watch.

It was a time-only 1815 that was almost identical to the standard model – with the same highly finished movement and solid silver dial – except the case was steel while the dial was black with white markings, a colour not available on the regular production watch.

Note the case back engraving. Photo – Sotheby’s

Reputedly around 80-120 of these service watches were made. They were produced in small batches over a period, perhaps over a handful of years from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. The number might not seem like much, but with the company being relatively new at the time, the number of watches returned for servicing was presumably quite small.

The movement in the service watch is finished to exactly the same level as that on a standard watch. Photo – Sotheby’s

The 1815 service watches were distributed to service centres and certain retailers around the world, but the programme only lasted a short period and was discontinued in the mid 2000s. At the time, there were rumours that one reason behind the halt of the programme was the fact that clients often decided to lose the service watch and then pay for it.

Today the watches are nearly forgotten, so much so that it is almost like they didn’t exist.

The white on black livery of the service watch. Photo – Sotheby’s

Service watch for sale

One-off steel Lange watches have sold for record sums – from over US$500,000 for a steel Double Split to almost US$900,000 for the unique 1815 ‘Homage to Walter Lange’ – while the steel Lange 1, of which perhaps 20 were made, goes for around US$150,000-200,000.

But the 1815 service watch has not emerged for sale publicly, until now. Sotheby’s in Dubai will soon offer a “new old stock” example of the Lange 1815 service watch in steel in its upcoming auction.

To address the obvious question, this specific watch no longer belongs to Lange. According to Frederic Watrelot, the Sotheby’s watch department head in Dubai, the watch is owned by a former authorised retailer for Lange, who purchased the watch from Lange, probably when the service watch programme was ended.

A “live” shot of the 1815 service watch. Photo – Frederic Watrelot

Note the identical case finishing as found on the standard 1815. Photo – Frederic Watrelot

Still finished the typical Lange way. Photo – Frederic Watrelot

The steel case of the service watch is exactly the same as that used for the standard production model, a somewhat small 36mm in diameter. But the case back is engraved “Property of / Eigentum Firma Lange Uhren GmbH”. Similarly, the movement was identical to the standard L941.1, but the three-quarter plate is engraved “SERVICE” just below the serial number.

Photo – Sotheby’s

The 1815 service watch being offered at Sotheby’s appears hardly worn – it probably never fulfilled its original role of a loaner – and is fitted to the original calfskin Lange strap with a matching steel buckle. And it is accompanied by the 1999 book written by eminent historian Reinhard Meis, A. Lange & Sohne: The Watchmakers of Dresden. Crucially, the book is signed by Walter Lange.

The 1815 service watch is lot 115 in Sotheby’s Watches auction in Dubai taking place on November 24, 2019. It has an estimate of US$30,000-50,000.

Update November 23, 2019: Sotheby’s has withdrawn the watch. 

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Highlights: Phillips Hong Kong Watch Auction – Complications and Enamel

Grand comps and a miniature enamel.

Happening in just over a week, the Phillips Hong Kong watch auction is a 321-lot event spread over two days. Notably, the first session is an evening sale titled First, made up of 52 watches consigned by their original owners.

The offerings in First, as well as the main sale the next day, are diverse array ranging from a possibly unique Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon with a black dial, and a wonderfully elegant Vacheron Constantin minute repeater (pictured above) – both consigned by the first owners no less – to vintage sports Rolex watches and Omega Speedmasters.

The Sky Moon Tourbillon ref. 5002G

Another original owner Patek Philippe grand complication, the ref. 5033P

Here we cover some of the complicated watch highlights, while other vintage and sports watches will be featured in a subsequent article.

The full catalogue is available on

First, lot 833 – Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Perpetual Calendar Chronograph

One of the best values in the segment of perpetual calendar chronographs is a pre-owned Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. This example is in platinum, with a largish 43mm case that is suited to today’s taste for larger watches.

The layout is traditional for a perpetual calendar chronograph, though the calendar windows are slightly small relative to the size of the dial. But this has a decorative flourish few of its peers have: the moon phase is a hand-engraved disc of white gold that features a tiny and amusing moon “face”.

Additionally, this specimen is also a current model, meaning it has the cal. 1142 inside. Though still based on the Lemania CH27 or cal. 2310, the cal. 1142 has an upgraded regulator, a free-sprung, adjustable mass balance running at 21,600 beats per hour.

In comparison, the earlier generation cal. 1141 features the stock Lemania balance running at 18,000 beats per hour, along with a swan’s neck regulator.

The cal. 1142 also features some aesthetic flourishes absent before, including the relief Maltese cross on the column wheel.

Importantly, this is accompanied by all the original packaging, which is elaborate and extensive, including a manual-winding box.

This has an estimate of HK$400,000-600,000, or about US$50,000-75,000.

First lot 834 – Vacheron Constantin minute repeater with perpetual calendar ref. 30020

One of the most elegant and subtle modern-day minute repeater watches are those Vacheron Constantin produced in the 1990s, all powered by the cal. 1755.

It was an extra-thin, hand-wound movement developed by complications specialist Dubois-Depraz in 1992, but modelled on a vintage calibre used by Vacheron Constantin in the 1950s.

Only 200 movements were made, and most were finished as time-only minute repeater wristwatches (as the ref. 30010 with a solid dial and ref. 30030 as a skeleton watch). About a third were combined with a perpetual calendar module that was also made by Dubois-Depraz, turning the movement into the cal. 1755 QP. This is one such example in platinum, one of 55 ref. 30020s in the metal.

The watch is thin, compact and beautiful, with the case just 37mm in diameter. But because the lugs are teardrop-shaped and quite long, it has a good presence on the wrist.

Though well preserved, this watch only has an archive extract but not the original certificate. The estimate is HK$1.0m-2.0m, or about US$125,000-250,000.

First, lot 843 – Patek Philippe ref. 5033P-013 minute repeater with annual calendar

One of the most unusual modern Patek Philippe “Grand Complications” is the ref. 5033, which combines a cathedral-gong minute repeater with an annual calendar, instead of the usual perpetual calendar. Add to that the cushion-shaped, Gondolo case and the result is a watch quite different from other Grand Complications.

Reputedly first made as a 10-piece custom order (of nine in platinum and one in titanium) for Middle Eastern royalty, the ref. 5033 is a large, heavy watch.

This example is a first generation ref. 5033, with Roman numerals for the hours, instead of the applied markers of the second generation. Anecdotal evidence would suggest the first generation is more rare.

The movement inside is the R27 PS QA, which is automatic and wound via a gold micro-rotor.

The ref. 5033P includes all of its original packaging, and has an estimate of HK$1.25m-1.95m, or about US$160,000-250,000.

First, lot 845 – Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon ref. 5002G-010

The next most complicated Patek Philippe wristwatch after the Grandmaster Chime, the Sky Moon Tourbillon is now only available with a fully engraved and enamelled case as the ref. 6002G.

This example is a first generation Sky Moon Tourbillon, the ref. 5002G, but with a black dial that is possibly the only one of its kind. While other black dial ref. 5002s are know, they have slight variations in the dial, and also a different case material. Standard ref. 5002s, on the other hand, had a white dial.

It’s a double-faced watch, with the front showing the perpetual calendar display, and the back a star chart.

As is often the case with such watches, the ref. 5002G appears to have been hardly worn, and is complete with all boxes and paperwork. The estimate is HK$6.2m-11m, or about US$800,000-1.4m.

Lot 928 – Patek Philippe ref. 866/2 miniature enamel pocket watch

One of the most acclaimed miniature enamel artists of the late 20th century, Marthe Bischoff was responsible for a small number of beautifully rendered enamel pocket watches.

Named Paysage Hollandais, or “Dutch landscape”, this example depicts a Dutch landscape scene, inspired by the work of 17th century Dutch painter Salomon van Ruysdael.

Despite having been sold in 1975, this watch is like new, and includes all its original packaging, including box, hang tag, and all-important certificate.

Lot 944 – Patek Philippe ref. 530 oversized chronograph in pink gold

Rare and desirable, the ref. 530 is 36.5mm in diameter, enormous compared to the 33mm of the ref. 130, which was the quintessential Patek Philippe chronograph of the period.

This example is even more rare because it is in pink gold, with only about 30 ref. 530s in pink gold out of the 140 or so produced, according to Phillips.

The watch was last sold at auction in 2008 at Antiquorum in Geneva, where it sold for 462,200 Swiss francs. The dial then had noticeable ageing, with dark spots on the edge of the dial and patches on the sub-dials around the hands.

It has since been cleaned, although faint shadows of the original edge spotting remain visible, including around the “600” on the tachymetre, which is probably a good thing given the emphasis on originality in vintage watch collecting.

The case remains in crisp condition with the original hallmarks clear and deep.

The estimate is HK$2.3m-4.7m, or about US$300,000-600,000.

Lot 1002 – Gerald Genta minute repeater with perpetual calendar and tourbillon

One of the best values in terms of highly complicated watches is lot 1002, which comes from Gerald Genta’s 1990s heyday, marked by the launch of the grande sonnerie wristwatch.

This example is a minute repeater with perpetual calendar and tourbillon in platinum – with a bezel set with baguette-cut diamonds and a matching platinum bracelet – powered by an in-house, extra-thin automatic movement.

The dial is sapphire, revealing the perpetual calendar mechanism below, while the moon phase display is set with brilliant-cut diamonds.

And the case back reveals the fully-engraved movement, which was the house style of Gerald Genta at the time. A variant of the same movement is still used by Bulgari in its ultra-thin Octo Finissimo minute repeater.

The watch doe show some minor external wear, as well as some lint on the movement which might indicate it’ll need a cleaning soon. And importantly, the bracelet is 185mm long, or about 7.2 inches, which means it’ll fit most wrists (and links can also be removed).

Though strong value given the complication, the watch is quite small at just 35mm in diameter. This has an estimate of HK$275,000-470,000, or about US$35,000-60,000, which is probably a tenth of its original retail price.

Preview and Auction

The preview exhibition is open daily from November 22-25 at the JW Marriott Hotel.

The first session of the auction (lots 801-853) takes place November 25 at 6:30pm, while the second session (lots 854-1121) is on November 26 at 12:00pm.

For the complete catalogue, as well as to place bids online, please visit

JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong
88 Queensway
Admiralty, Hong Kong

Addition November 18, 2019: Diameter of Gerald Genta repeater added.

Correction November 21, 2019: The Vacheron Constantin cal. 1142 runs at 21,600 beats per hour, and not 28,800bph as stated before.

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Business News: Cartier Launches 8-Year Warranty for Watches

With "Cartier Care".

Cartier has just announced Cartier Care, an online platform to enhance its client service, most notably with the debut of an extended, eight-year warranty for all watches.

Cartier Care was rolled out quietly last year on a small scale when it was offered only to buyers of the new Santos de Cartier wristwatch, but is now offered to all clients.

The programme includes a complimentary battery swap that replaces existing batteries with a new generation of extended-life batteries, as well as services like bracelet sizing, all of which can be arranged online.

Additionally, Cartier is working on growing the range of services to include personalisation of various items, ranging from engraving on watch case backs to the embossing of initials on jewel boxes.

But most significant is the extended warranty, which started on November 12, 2019. In order to received an extended warranty, watch owners have to register on the Cartier Care website.

All watches that are still under the original warranty of two years are eligible for a warranty of up to eight years in total. Specifically, it means the warranty extension is an additional six years, on top of the original two.

To register and find out more, visit Cartier Care.


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The Hour Glass Marks 40 Years with Contemporary Art

Marc Newson, Daniel Arsham, nendo, and Wieki Somers.

Singapore-based watch retailer The Hour Glass, one of the world’s largest, is marking its 40th anniversary this year with a series of limited editions from brands like Audemars Piguet, Longines, Sinn, and Urwerk. More unusually, the anniversary encompasses exhibition of specially commissioned contemporary art by boldface artists and designers – Daniel Arsham, Marc Newson, nendo, and Studio Wieki Somers. Appropriately, each artist’s work is a meditation on the concept of time.

Together they form Then Now Beyond, an exhibition curated by a committee made up of British architect David Adjaye, auctioneer Aurel Bacs, and The Hour Glass chief Michael Tay, and managed by art advisory outfit The Artling.

Then Now Beyond is on show in The Hour Glass’ largest store in Singapore, Malmaison – from now till end February 2020 – within a gallery area designed by JoAnn Tan Studio, a Milan agency best known for the window displays created for Hermes, Fendi and other major fashion labels.

Then Now Beyond

Daniel Arsham, an American artist based in New York, is known for his “eroded” works meant to look like objects of today viewed in the distant future, but perhaps better known for his collaborations with the likes of Adidas and Rimowa.

His work for the exhibition is a variation of a motif he has explored before. Titled Hourglass, it is an “eroded” hourglass cast in bronze, with the body of the hourglass broken to reveal an aged pocket watch and camera within.

Daniel Arsham

A name more familiar to watch aficionados is Marc Newson, who designed the Ikepod line of wristwatches and the Apple Watch. Amongst other things, the versatile industrial designer has created cabins for Qantas, a backpack for Louis Vuitton, and a line of pens for Montblanc.

Bringing to mind the crystal Atmos clocks he designed for Jaeger-LeCoultre, Klepsydra is a modern take on the water clock, the oldest form of mechanical timekeeper known to man. Sitting within a crystal body, the mechanism transfers tiny nano balls, some 2.8 million of them, with 12 tiny glass buckets travelling in a clockwise direction, just as a water clock would.


Marc Newson

Japanese design studio nendo, founded by Oki Sato, conceived a cube clock that has its hands cut from the outer edge of the cube. The hands travel as they would on a normal clock, but twice a day they overlap to form a perfect cube for a brief moment, “conveying the impression of the resetting of the mind”.

The exhibition will also include another of his work –”Variations of Time”– which debuted a year ago. Comprising of four unusually shaped hour glasses, the collection explores how the hour glass has evolved from a functional tool to more of a sentimental and symbolic object. Each hour glass is made from transparent acrylic and constructed with organically shaped sand tunnels.

The “Variations of Time” collection

Oki Sato

A Dutch design agency established by its eponymous founder, Studio Wieki Somers combines the topic of climate change with time in the Beetle Clock.

It’s a gilt column that’s the trunk of a tree, with the tree rings visible on the top. Two beetles travel in a circle around the top, one indicating the minutes and the other, the hours. The work is meant to symbolise the effect of time on the environment, and also how the smallest of creatures are still important in the ecosystem.

Wieki Somers

Exhibition details

Then Now Beyond is on show from November 24, 2019 to February 29, 2020 at Malmaison. It’s open daily to the public and admission is free.

Malmaison by The Hour Glass
270 Orchard Rd
Singapore 238857

Correction November 21, 2019: Then Now Beyond will be open to the public from November 24, and not November 23 as stated in an earlier version of the article.

Update November 26, 2019: Images replaced with a set of photographs.

Update December 17, 2019: Exhibition dates extended till end February 2020.


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