Highlights: Sotheby’s Hong Kong Watch Auction

A lapis Daytona, independents, and more.

With its auctions earlier in the year having been delayed due to the pandemic – and supplemented by weekly online sales – Sotheby’s has resumed its traditional schedule and the fall auction season in Hong Kong is now in full swing. Preceded by sales of wine, art, and jewellery, Important Watches takes place in Hong Kong in two days – at 4:00 pm on October 9.

Made up of just over 180 lots, the catalogue encompasses independent watchmakers like Philippe Dufour – there are two Dufour Simplicities in the sale – who are notable and known, and also some who are less prominent today, like Antoine Preziuso and Svend Andersen.

And the sale naturally the usual suspects, with the headline watch being a possibly-unique Rolex Daytona “Zenith” with a lapis lazuli dial, and perhaps the most intriguing being a quartz Rolex Beta 21 in white gold that might be one of a kind. Here’s a look at a couple of interesting lots, and the complete catalogue is available here.

The lapis Daytona

The white gold Rolex Beta-21

Lot 2062 – Andersen Geneve Secular Perpetual Calendar

Known for his inventive complications and unique bespoke watches, Svend Andersen was a pioneer in independent watchmaking. He established his own brand in 1979 and cofounded the AHCI in 1986. Four decades on, he continues to produce watches using artisanal and traditional methods.

A good example of his mechanical creativity is the secular perpetual calendar that made its debut in 1996 – the first of its kind in a wristwatch. Nearly all perpetual calendar watches can automatically adjust for leap years, which happen once in four years, but they cannot do the same for a secular leap year – which accumulates from the slight errors of adding a day every four years. The next secular leap year is 2100, which is why most perpetual calendars will require a factory reset then.

Mr Andersen’s invention, however, takes the secular leap year into account, resulting in a watch that does not require any correction for 800 years – making it a bona fide perpetual calendar.

The secular perpetual calendar was made in a range of styles of varying appeal, but particular example has a classical, attractive design, with a platinum case featuring teardrop lugs as well as Breguet numerals on the dial.

The dial is surprisingly clean for a perpetual calendar, because Mr Andersen cleverly installed most of the calendar indications on the back. The front indicates only the time as well as an extra-large date, while the back incorporates everything else, including the years until 2400.

The estimate is HK$80,000-200,000, or around US$10,300-25,800, which is a bargain.

Lot 2064 – Antoine Preziuso Tourbillon Royal, Piece Unique

Like Svend Andersen, Antoine Preziuso is another of the originals in independent watchmaking, having set up his brand in 1991. Largely focused on tourbillon watches of all stripes since the beginning, Mr Preziuso is perhaps most widely known for being behind the Harry Winston Opus 2, which was a tourbillon naturally.

While most of Mr Preziuso’s output has been wristwatches, the Tourbillon Royal is a pocket watch with a special movement. Lavishly decorated with hand-engraving and diamonds on the front, the watch is a large, 62.5 mm in diameter.

The back has hinged lid that’s been skeletonised in a floral pattern, with an aperture to reveal the tourbillon regulator. But lift the hunter back and the most interesting aspect of the watch reveals itself.

The calibre inside is evidently based on the movement developed by the late Derek Pratt for Urban Jurgensen & Sønner (UJS). A contemporary of George Daniels who, by most accounts, was as talented as he was modest, Pratt constructed several such movements for UJS, some incorporating a constant-force mechanism within the tourbillon.

The movement in the Preziuso pocket watch does not have a constant-force mechanism, and have several notable differences from the UJS movements, including the shape of the tourbillon bridge. It was most probably acquired by Mr Preziuso as an ebauche and then intricately decorated with a hand-engraved granular finish on the bridges.

The Tourbillon Royal has an estimate of HK$200,000-320,000, or around US$25,800-41,300, a rock-solid value proposition given the level of craft and cost of materials.

Lot 2075 – A. Lange & Söhne Triple Split

Introduced only in 2018, the Triple Split was the first, and is still the only, wristwatch able to record twin elapsed times in seconds, minutes, and hours. Essentially a far more complicated version of the Double Split of 2004, the Triple Split is restrained in style and refined in mechanics, resulting in a watch that is just 0.3 mm thicker than the Double Split.

The cal. L132.1 inside is a major achievement in chronograph movements, but also traditionally finished, as exemplified with the many intricately finished steel levers. Limited to 100 pieces, the Triple Split sold out swiftly after its launch, and is relatively uncommon now.

This is estimated at HK$700,000-1.0m or around US$90,300-129,000. The Triple Split’s retail price was just over US$156,000 when it was available, which means it can still be had for below retail if the hammer price stays within the estimate.

Lot 2083 – Parmigiani Fleurier Table Clock Regence with perpetual calendar

One of the more unusual offerings in the sale is a table clock by Parmigiani Fleurier. Founded by Michel Parmigiani in 1996, the brand makes timepieces of notably impressive quality, even though its recent designs are a hit or miss.

In its earlier years, Parmigiani also produced a number of clocks and objets d’art, and this is an excellent example of that work. Simple with a slight Art Deco feel, the clock is made of pink gold and black Onyx. Within is a key-wound, eight-day movement with a perpetual calendar mechanism, a rare complication in table clocks.

The clock also incorporates many of the defining elements of Parmigiani wristwatches. The bezel of the square face is double stepped and knurled by hand to create an extremely fine fluting. And the dial, which is probably solid gold, is decorated with guilloche and applied chapter rings, while the hands are Parmigiani’s signature lance shape.

This table clock is as functional as it is elegant, and likely cost well into six figures – in Swiss francs – when it was new. And now it carries an estimate of HK$240,000-320,000, or about US$31,000-41,300.

Lot 2120 – Rolex Beta-21 Ref. 5100

Introduced in 1966, the Beta 21 was Switzerland’s answer to the quartz movement developed by Seiko. It was the result of a wide-ranging collaboration across the watch industry, backed by 20 brands, including Rolex, Patek Philippe and Omega. Rolex installed the Beta-21 in the ref. 5100, a chunky wristwatch with a distinctive 1970s style.

The ref. 5100 was the first quartz Rolex, and just 1,000 were made – each hand engraved with a serial number on the back – before Rolex moved on to its in-house Oysterquartz movement in 1972.

While a Rolex Beta-21 is rare in itself, this example is even less common. For starters, it is in white gold (most are in yellow gold), and features a grey dial with diamond indices, a combination that has not been offered publicly before, making it possibly unique.

This has an estimate of HK$400,000-600,000, or about US$51,600-77,400.

Lot 2141 – Rolex Daytona ref. 16528 with lapis lazuli dial

Having just sold a platinum Rolex Daytona “Zenith” with a lapis lazuli dial for over US$3.2 million (and another one with a mother-of-pearl dial before that), Sotheby’s continues its streak of rare and possibly unique Rolex Daytonas.

The top lot of the auction is Cosmograph Daytona ref. 16528 in yellow gold powered by the cal. 4030, which is based on the Zenith El Primero movement.

But the highlight is the dial. It’s made of lapis lazuli and matched with diamond indices, and a perfect match for the yellow gold case and bracelet.

A combination that is inherently compelling in design, this is made even more desirable since it might just be unique. According to Sotheby’s, it is the only know Daytona with a lapis dial, and also the only known Daytona with a stone dial and a yellow gold case (white gold being the norm).


This watch includes the original presentation box and guarantee. The dial has no flaws, and the case shows light signs of polishing. It’s estimated at HK$4.0-8.0m, or about US$516,000-1.03m.

Lot 2151 – Philippe Dufour Simplicity 37 mm

The features that make Philippe Dufour’s watches so sought after are well-documented, namely the classic movement architecture and peerless, artisanal finishing. And with its value have risen almost 10-fold from the original retail price and reached a stable level, the Simplicity has become a regular feature at auctions.

The auction includes not one, but two, examples of Philippe Dufour’s iconic, time-only wristwatch. Both have a white metal case and the same dial design – silver guilloche – but they are in different sizes and alloys.

The first is the larger, 37 mm size in white gold, with a movement number of “68”. It has the original box and certificate.

The estimate is HK$2.0-3.2m, or about US$258,000-413,000.

Lot 2152 – Philippe Dufour Simplicity 34 mm

And the second is the original size of 34 mm, and in platinum. It’s numbered “100” and also includes the original box and certificate.

This has an estimate of HK$1.6-2.4m, or about US$206,000-310,000.

Preview and Auction

The preview exhibition is open daily from October 3-8 at the New Wing of the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (HKCEC).

Hall 1, New Wing, Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
1 Expo Dr
Wanchai, Hong Kong

The auction starts at 4:00 pm (GMT+8) on Friday, October 9, 2020, taking place at Sotheby’s offices in Pacific Place.

5/F, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway
Admiralty, Hong Kong

For the full catalogue, as well as registration and online bidding, visit Sothebys.com.


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Swatch Introduces the ²Q for ‘No Time to Die’

The affordable James Bond watch.

Earlier this year Swatch released the Swatch x 007 collection made up of six watches, each inspired by a James Bond movie from 1962 to 2006, in the lead-up to the premiere of the latest Bond flick, No Time to Die. Then the watchmaker worked with the movie’s design team to imagine a watch suitable for Q, the MI6 gadget chief who outfits Bond in every film, resulting in the ²Q.

It was originally launched in March 2020 as a limited edition with red accents – Ben Whishaw as Q in the film will be wearing one – but now the blue version has been unveiled to coincide with the film’s release. But because No Time to Die has been delayed yet again, to April 2021, the watch is going it alone.

Initial thoughts

Unlike Swatch x 007 watches from earlier in the year that were elaborate in style and colour, the ²Q is pared-back and slightly mechanical in style, but avoids being boring thanks to an open dial and red accents. It is surprisingly interesting to see the insides of a quartz watch, which is not often revealed since mechanical movements are more commonly exposed.

The design is simple but executed well. For instance, the red flange slopes downwards to the brushed chapter ring for the hours, adding some depth to the face.

At 42 mm in diameter, the ²Q is larger than earlier 007 editions. That also holds true for the price, which at US$220 is also steeper than usual, but still eminently affordable compared to Omega’s 007 Seamaster.

Q details

Based on the Skin Irony model – which means an extra-thin steel case – the overall look of the watch is quite solemn and mechanical, consisting mainly of silver and blue, along with a splash of red and the exposed quartz movement – all in all rather fitting for Q, and conceived with the help of Suttirat Anne Larlarb, the costume designer for No Time To Die.

The special packaging

Several details are specific to the character, most obviously “Q” for the six o’clock marker. And the coil around the stepper motor at 10 o’clock is also coated blue, instead of its usual natural-copper colour. In the original edition, the coil was copper and the hands were red.

Key Facts and Price

Swatch ²Q for ‘No Time to Die’
Ref. SS07Z102

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 6.7 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Crystal: Unavailable
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Quartz
Functions: Hours and minutes

Strap: Brown leather

Limited edition: No
 At Swatch stores and online boutique
Price: US$220, or 335 Singapore dollars

For more, visit swatch.com


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Bell & Ross Introduces the BR 05 Blue Gold

The luxe edition.

Conceived as an affordable entry into the world of the integrated-bracelet, luxury-sports watches, the BR 05 was first launched in steel, priced at a little under US$5,000.

Now the brand has just taken the covers off the decidedly more lavish BR 05 Blue Gold, which is rendered in the trendy colour combination of a metallic blue dial with a rose gold case, and even a matching gold bracelet.

Initial thoughts

When it made its debut last year, I found the BR 05 to be as good looking as it was controversial. At a glance the design is redolent of the usual suspects in the luxury-sports watch genre. However, there’s originality to the design that is less noticeable, such as the bezel derived from the quintessential Bell & Ross (B&R) wristwatch, the square BR 01. And the case finishing on the steel BR 05 is well done; not overly complicated yet managing to have well defined edges.

All of those qualities carry over to the rose-gold variant, which coupled with the blue, sunburst-brushed dial, results in a compelling watch. But the price is far from compelling. At US$32,500 on a bracelet (and US$11,000 less on a rubber strap), the BR 05 in gold is expensive, especially since the competition is very, very strong.

It is cheaper than the Royal Oak or Overseas in solid gold, but the difference doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch at this level. The Overseas in gold, for instance, costs a little over US$46,000.

A good look

While the value proposition in terms of the movement and finishing is not as compelling at this price point – and that is probably not the point of an all-gold watch anyway – the BR 05 in gold is handsome.

Compared with pricier alternatives from Audemars Piguet or Vacheron Constantin, the BR 05 case design is less nuanced but still nicely detailed. The case is a square with rounded edges, avoiding complicated geometric shapes and angles, but finished with sharp, polished bevels on all edges. The bezel is wide and flat, with four large bolts at each corner – a trademark element taken from the BR 01.

But while straightforward, the case construction and finishing is excellent. Like most B&R cases, it is made by G&F Chatelain, a case specialist that also supplies bigger, more exotic names like Richard Mille and MB&F. The quality of the case finishing is accented by the rich tone of pink gold, giving it a more upscale look than the steel model.

The case is sized exactly the same as the steel version, 40 mm by 10.4 mm, giving it a compact profile on the wrist. And the movement is the BR-CAL.321, which is a Sellita SW300 fitted with an open-worked rotor.

Key Facts and Price

Bell & Ross BR 05 Blue Gold
Ref. BR05A-BLU-PG/SPG (bracelet)
Ref. BR05A-BLU-PG/SRB (rubber strap)

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 10.4 mm
Material: 18k rose gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: BR-CAL.321 (Sellita SW300 base)
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 40 hours

Strap: Bracelet or rubber strap

Availability: Available now 
Bracelet – US$32,500; or 49,000 Singapore dollars
Strap – US$21,500; or 33,000 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Bellross.com.


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