Highlights: Phillips Hong Kong Watch Auction

Sports or simple.

While the first instalment of highlights in Phillips’ upcoming Hong Kong auction covered mostly complicated watches, this is a look at the simpler and sportier stuff.

A good number of the sports watches are in First, the opening session of the sale that is made up of watches consigned by the original owners. Some of these watches are distinguished by thorough historical documentation, as with the Rolex Submariner ref. 5512 below that includes several photographs of the original owner wearing the watch.

And the rest of the sale also includes a few gems that are not exceptionally valuable, but attractive in both style and price. One example is the Vacheron Constantin ref. 6378Q automatic in white gold, with a diamond-marker dial to boot.

This is part two of the highlights; you can find part one here. And the full catalogue is available on Phillips.com.

The 6378Q

First lot 813 – Cartier Crash Radieuse

Launched last year, the Radieuse is one of just a handful of limited edition versions of Cartier’s iconic asymmetric watch.

It takes the “crash” theme literally – the case and dial feature a radiating shockwave motif that starts on the dial and continues on the case, which has a relief, concentrically lined surface.

The case is 18k yellow gold, while the crown is set with a brilliant-cut diamond. And inside is a small hand-wound movement made by Jaeger-LeCoultre.

And in a big plus for potential Asian buyers, the watch is numbered “08/50”.

Purchased from one of Cartier’s Parisian boutiques in 2018, this watch has the original box and papers, with an estimate of HK$155,000-310,000, or about US$20,000-40,000.

First lot 847 – Omega Speedmaster “Holy Grail” ref. ST376.0822

Having gotten the nickname “Holy Grail” because it reputedly took years for collector well known on internet watch forums to obtain, the Speedmaster ref. ST376.0822 is unusual amongst Speedmasters because it is a valuable model but automatic, while majority of the most desirable Speedmaster models are hand-wound. Of the ten most valuable Speedmasters in this auction, only two are automatic – and both are the “Holy Grail”.

The “Holy Grail” was produced for just a year, from 1987 to 1988, and only 2000 were made. It is powered by the Omega cal. 1045, a movement based on the Lemania 5100. The 5100 was plain and low cost (and even had plastic chronograph levers), but robust, and was often found in late 20th century military-issue or professional-use chronographs.

This “Holy Grail” is in extremely good condition, having been owned by the same German gentleman since 1989, when he purchased it new from Juwelier Luithle in Heilbronn. It’s accompanied by the box, warranty booklet, and purchase invoice for 1,450 Deutsche marks.

The estimate is HK$120,000-200,000, or US$15,000-25,0000. There’s a second “Holy Grail” in the auction with an estimate of about 30% less (lot 1043), but showing more wear and without its original packaging.

First lot 848 – Rolex Explorer ref. 6610

One of several original owner Rolex watches in the sale, this is an example of the first ever Explorer model, a ref. 6610 with a “gilt” dial. It was originally purchased by an American serviceman stationed in Germany, whose son has consigned it for sale.

Though the shows obvious ageing on the dial and wear on the case, the watch is attractively original and also includes the original warranty dated 1957. It’s estimated at HK$160,000-310,000, or about US$20,000-40,000.

First lot 849 – Rolex Submariner ref. 5512

One of the best documented histories amongst the original owner watches in the First section is this Submariner ref. 5512, which was purchased by a Japanese motorcycle engineer in 1962, during transit in Hawaii, when he was on the way back home from the Grand Prix at Daytona Beach in Florida.

The watch includes various photos of the owner wearing the watch over the decades, including some with him clad in morning dress (meaning a tailcoat and grey trousers), bringing to mind vintage James Bond.

The watch itself is a relatively uncommon model, an early 1960s Submariner ref. 5512 with a “four-liner” dial, referring to the four lines of lettering at six o’clock.

It does show its age, both inside and out – the case has lost its original edges though the dial retains all its important details – but it remains appealing, mainly because of the backstory.

This has an estimate of HK$250,000-500,000, or about US$30,000-60,000.

Lot 899 – Rolex Submariner ref. 6538 “Big Crown”

One of the auction’s top lots – the fourth most valuable in terms of the estimate – is an early Rolex Submariner, the ref. 6538. Though it’s only one of several early Submariner references produced in the early to mid 1950s, the ref. 6538 is amongst the most valuable, because of features like the oversized crown and larger case size.

This example is well preserved, showing only minor external wear, and appears to have its original case finish. Similarly, the dial is clean and possesses all the crucial details, though it has light spotting.

Values of the earliest Submariners have risen sharply in the last year – bringing to mind the rise and dip of vintage Daytona prices – and this has an estimate of HK$2.8-5.0m, or about US$350,000-650,000.

Lot 911 – Patek Philippe Nautilus “Jumbo” re. 3700/1

This is a strong example of the original Nautilus “Jumbo” designed by Gerald Genta. Produced in 1977, a year after the model’s launch, this example has the added bonus of an unusual and surprisingly brown “tropical” dial.

Originally a grey-blue, the dial has aged to a tobacco brown that is likely the result of either a defect in the original dial finish, or prolonged exposure to a warm environment.

The steel case is in attractive condition, showing well-defined bevels and edges, perhaps the result of having been carefully refreshed.

And the bracelet has slight looseness and play between the links, unavoidable in vintage bracelets that have been worn.

This has an estimate of HK$550,000-1.1m, or about US$70,000-140,000.

Lot 978 – Breitling Cosmonaute ref. 809 “AOPA”

Named Cosmonaute because it was originally developed for American astronaut Scott Carpenter in the early 1960s – the 24-hour dial made it easy to tell if it was day or night back on Earth – the Cosmonaute is essentially a variant of the better known Navitimer.

This example is a second generation (roughly speaking) Cosmonaute with silver sub-dials, unlike the first generation that had black registers.

It’s slightly more unusual than a standard Cosmonaute because the dial has the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) logo at 12 o’clock; Breitling was the official watchmaker for the American aviation organisation at the time and produced various models, though mostly Navitimers, with the AOPA logo.

The watch is in good condition, with the case having its original wide bevel on the lugs, though the dial shows the ageing that is almost standard in vintage Navitimers since the cases were not water-resistant.

Though values of vintage Breitling watches have risen slightly in recent years, in part due to the energised marketing push led by Georges Kern, they are still relatively affordable compared to the competition. This has an estimate of HK$40,000-60,000, or about US$5000-7000.

Lot 1040 – Vacheron Constantin ref. 6378Q in white gold

A simple but good looking watch that is strong value is the Vacheron Constantin ref. 6378Q. It’s a classic mid 20th century gentleman’s watch, but more unusual than the usual fare because the case is in white gold, while the dial has diamond hour markers.

The case is 36mm in diameter, making it large enough even by modern standards. And it has a screw-down case back, a useful feature in vintage watches since it enhances moisture-resistance.

Inside is the K1072, an early automatic movement that was elaborately and robustly constructed, though quite thick compared to modern calibres.

The estimate is HK$50,000-80,000, or about US$6500-10,000.

Lot 1045 – Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch “Khanjar”

This is a pretty ordinary 1990s Moonwatch, except for the engraved national emblem of Oman on the case back, indicating it was probably a diplomatic gift from the Omani state, whose ruler, Sultan Qaboos, owns one of the world’s most important watches collections. According to Phillips, only 10 such Speedmasters are known.

The watch is in excellent condition, showing only minor wear. It is accompanied by an Omega archive extract the watch was sent to Oman in 1993. Also included is an inner wood box and outer cardboard box that are both marked with the “khanjar” emblem.

The estimate is HK$160,000-320,000, or about US$20,000-40,000.

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 Phillips.com.

JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong
88 Queensway
Admiralty, Hong Kong


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Business News: Swiss Watch Exports to Hong Kong Plunge 30% in October

And it isn't getting better.

The latest figures from trade body Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) show a massive fall in Swiss watch exports to Hong Kong, a statistic that is proxy for sales of luxury watches.

According to the FH numbers for the month of October 2019, exports to Hong Kong fell 29.7% to 191.3m Swiss francs. This comes after a more measured, 4.6% drop in September.

Exports to Hong Hong have now fallen below those to China, which rose 10.8% to 218.4m francs. Enjoying a 11.2% rise to 227.5m francs is the United States, which was the largest market for Swiss watches in October.

For the year to date, Hong Kong remains the world’s largest market for Swiss watches, though the gap between it and the second-placed United States is falling. Hong Kong imported 2.26 billion francs of Swiss watches in the year to date – a fall of 8.8% compared to the same period las year – compared to 1.97 billion francs for the United States.

Pedder Street in Hong Kong’s Central business district, ordinarily a shopping paradise. Photo – Hong Kong Tourism Board

The drop in watch exports to the city confirm industry talk that the luxury goods has been hard hit by the six months of protests that have roiled Hong Kong. Shops located in the worst affected areas can only stay open for a fraction of a business day, or not at all on some days.

Several executives from both watch brands and retailers in the territory have cited consecutive, month-on-month drops in store sales that reach into the double digits, leading to a freeze in orders of new products as well as redirecting existing inventory to other countries when possible. Hiring has also stopped, while retrenchments have started.

Source: FH


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Singer Reimagined Introduces the Track 1 Emirates Edition

Green, gold and black.

Singer Reimagined, a sister company of Singer Vehicle Design, the acclaimed Californian outfit that modifies 964-series Porsche 911s, made its debut in 2017 with the Track 1 – a watch with a retro case but an ingenious, modern movement.

The brand has since introduced several limited editions for key cities, including Geneva and Hong Kong. Now, to coincide with Dubai Watch Week, it is launching the Track 1 Emirates Edition, a smartly coloured iteration with contrasting dial textures for more intuitive reading.

Measuring 43mm wide and 15mm high, the watch features a ceramic-coated aluminium case, created by subjecting aluminium to an electro-plasma oxidation process that creates a thin layer of ceramic on its surface. This gives the case a hard, scratch-resistant surface while keeping it lightweight, although the coating can be damaged by impact.

In the same vein, the bezel, pushers, crown and case back are in titanium, but coated with zirconium nitride (ZrN), a hard ceramic that is pale gold in colour.

The dial features black, concentric hour and minutes discs on the periphery with an olive-green centre and a gilt tachymeter flange, while all the hands are orange.

The watch is otherwise mechanically identical to the standard versions. It is equipped with one of the most revolutionary chronograph movements of recent times – the AgenGraphe, which was developed by Agenhor, a respected Geneva complications specialist led by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht.

Boasting five patents for its construction, the AgenGraphe is a cleverly constructed automatic movement with its rotor hidden beneath the dial to allow for an unobscured view of the movement from the back.

While a regular chronograph would have its chronograph mechanism built atop the gear train, the AgenGraphe has its double mainspring barrels, wheel train and escapement positioned on the circumference of the movement, surrounding the chronograph mechanism in the middle.

More crucially, at the heart of the chronograph mechanism is the AgenClutch, a patented clutch that combines the best of both horizontal and vertical clutches, with none of its shortcomings.

It is, in other words, a horizontal clutch with two toothless wheels, coated with a diamond nickel composite, that are friction-coupled like a vertical clutch. But in the event of shock, a tulip-shaped spring allows the wheels to safely move apart, while staying in alignment relative to each other thanks to a co-axial toothed wheel.

Additionally, the parts are finished to Geneva Seal standards with circular graining on the main plate, straight graining on the bridges and bevelled edges, along with polished countersinks for the jewels and screws, while the wheels have bevelled spokes.

Key facts and price

Singer Track 1 Emirates Edition

Diameter: 43mm
Height: 15mm
Material: Case body in ceramic-coated aluminium; bezel, case back, pushers, crown in ZrN-coated titanium
Water resistance: 100m

Movement: AgenGraphe cal. 6361
Functions: Hours, minutes, central chronograph
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 21,600bph, or 3Hz
Power reserve: 55 hours

Strap: Khaki green textile with a black DLC-coated steel buckle

Limited edition: 25 pieces
Availability: Direct from Singer Reimagined as well as authorised retailers 
50,000 Swiss francs, including 8% VAT

For more information, visit Singerreimagined.com

Correction November 27, 2019: The edition is 25 pieces, and not 20 as stated previously.

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Vacheron Constantin Introduces the Overseas Dual Time with a Black Dial

That's two-tone.

Launched last year in steel with a blue or silver dial (and also in 18k rose gold), the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time is now available in the most obvious dial colour – black.

Though not readily discernible in photos, the new black dial is made up of glossy, translucent black lacquer over a sunburst-brushed surface, giving it a slightly nuanced colour that’s similar to that found on the Overseas Perpetual Calendar with a blue lacquer dial. And because the minute track is printed on a matte, granular chapter ring, the result is a subtle, two-tone dial.

Dial aside the watch is identical to the earlier Overseas Dual Time. Home time is indicated by a red-tipped hour hand in the centre, which is in turn linked to the day and night display at nine o’clock.

The second time zone is set via the crown, but the quickset corrector for the date function is operated via a screw-down pusher at four o’clock.

It’s powered by the 5110 DT, a variation of the brand’s workhorse automatic movement that is widely used throughout the Overseas line. As with all Overseas watches, the 5110 DT has a solid gold rotor cast in the form of a compass rose.

The under-dial view of the movement, showing the levers and springs that control the day and night display (at 10 o’clock), and the date (at four o’clock)

And the case includes the quick-release strap mechanism that’s standard across the Overseas range. A small tab easily releases the bracelet or strap, allowing for a rapid swap with the additional strap options delivered with the watch.

Key facts and price

Overseas Dual Time
Ref. 7900V/110A-B546

Diameter: 41mm
Height: 12.8mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 150m

Movement: 5110 DT
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date; second time zone, day and night indicator
Winding: Automatic

Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour, or 4Hz
Power reserve: 60 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet, plus additional crocodile and rubber straps

Availability: From November 2019, at both retailers and boutiques
Price: US$22,900

For more information, visit Vacheron-constantin.com


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Panerai Introduces the Radiomir California PAM 931 & Radiomir 8 Days PAM 992

Marina Militare style returns.

Panerai’s new launches this year have so far been inclined towards civilian sports – including the Luna Rossa trio and Mike Horn edition – which is a key part of chief executive Jean-Marc Pontroué’s strategy that also emphasises “experiences”.

But with its two new launches – the Radiomir California 47mm (PAM 931) and Radiomir 8 Days 45mm (PAM 992) – the brand returns to the old school Marina Militare style – both have a familiar look that’s heavily inspired by wristwatches Panerai made for frogmen of the Italian navy in the 1930s and 1940s.

Radiomir California 47mm PAM00931

Notably, both watches have steel cases with an “aged patina effect”, essentially a surface coating that reproduces the look of the vintage originals.

The Radiomir California 47mm (PAM00931) revisits a design that Panerai has reproduced several times in the past – modelled on the ref. 3646 of the 1930s – but now with a “tropical” dial in graduated brown that mimics the look of aged dials on vintage Radiomir watches.

It has Roman numerals on the upper half and Arabic numbers on the bottom, a design originally meant to aid legibility by clearly distinguishing the upper and lower halves of the dial.

The crystal is domed PlexiGlas, while the movement is the extra-large, hand-wound P.3000 with a three-day power reserve.

The second model is slightly more interesting, since the design is more novel (in other words having not been done before, at least in the exact same configuration).

The Radiomir 8 Days 45mm (PAM00992) is smaller, but powered by a hand-wound movement with an eight-day power reserve, hence “8 Giorni Brevattato” on the dial, which translates as “8 days patented”.

And the dial has a “sandwich” construction that was also found on some vintage Panerai. It’s made up of a lower disc painted with luminous paint, and covered by an upper disc with cut-outs for the hour markers and sub-seconds.

The steel case is similar coated with a “patina” treatment, and matched with a domed sapphire crystal.

The movement is the P.5000, the brand’s entry-level movement with a long power reserve. Specifically, this is the second generation P.5000 movement that has a full bridge covering almost all of the back; the earlier version featured an open-worked bridge that revealed part of the gear train.

Key facts and price

Radiomir California 47 mm (PAM00931)

Diameter: 47mm
Height: 15.97mm
Material: Stainless steel with patina treatment
Water resistance: 100m

Movement: P.3000
Functions: Hours and minutes
Winding: Hand-wind

Frequency: 21,600bph, or 3Hz
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Calfskin with pin buckle

Availability: From December 2019, at both retailers and boutiques
Price: €8,500, or 12,500 Singapore dollars

Radiomir 8 Days 45 mm (PAM00992)

Diameter: 45mm
Height: 14.25mm
Material: Stainless steel with patina treatment
Water resistance: 100m

Movement: P.5000
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds
Winding: Hand-wind

Frequency: 21,600bph, or 3Hz
Power reserve: 8 days

Strap: Calfskin

Availability: From November 2019, only at Panerai boutiques
Price: €8,300, or 12,200 Singapore dollars

For more information, visit Panerai.com


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