Having covered highlights from the independent watchmakers at Phillips’ The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XV, we now dive into the complicated timepieces in the sale that takes place on November 28 and 29 – an appropriate theme given that the three most valuable lots according to the estimates are complicated watches from Patek Philippe.
In this roundup, we look at nine lots that stand out. Some like the ref. 5207P with the uncommon mahogany guilloche dial are six-figure, headline lots, while others are value propositions that might slip under the radar but worth noting, like the Cartier Privé Tonneau XL Skeleton Dual Time.
Registration for bidding and the entire catalogue for sale can be accessed here.
Here, we have the Lange 1 Time Zone that was first introduced in 2005. With the trademark Lange 1 dial layout and oversized date, the Time Zone maintains the recognisable Lange 1 style with its “Golden Proportions” despite being able to do much more than a standard Lange 1.
This particular variant came about when Buenos Aires retailer Simonetta Orsini requested a limited edition for Argentina. The cities disc thus has Buenos Aires (“B. AIRES”) to indicate UTC-03:00, instead of Rio de Janeiro as is the norm for the model.
But more significant for the Lange enthusiast is the silver dial with blue hands and markings, a pleasing but rarely-seen combination associated with the uncommon Lange 1 ref. 101.027X.
Given that this was a 100-piece run, only a handful of the Buenos Aires edition have shown up on the secondary market, so this will likely enjoy significant interest. Accompanied by its box and certificates, the Lange 1 Time Zone Buenos Aires Limited Edition is numbered “39/100”. It has an estimate of HK$200,000-400,000, or about US$25,600-51,300. Full lot details here.
If there is a complication synonymous with Patek Philippe, it is the perpetual calendar (though some might say it’s the perpetual calendar with chronograph instead). Historically inspired by some of the brand’s best-known vintage perpetual calendar watches, the ref. 5236P is a relatively new addition to the catalogue that, in a first for a Patek Philippe wristwatch, revives the straight-line calendar from mid-20th century pocket watches. It is both a subtle yet sophisticated update to the classic Patek Philippe perpetual that was well-received by both critics and collectors.
The watch marries the style of the in-line calendar pocket watches from the 1950s with the case of the “Disco Volante” perpetual calendar refs. 3448 and 3450. But despite the vintage inspiration in both display and aesthetics, the ref. 5236P sets itself apart as a contemporary timepiece with its design language, especially with the vertically-brushed, gradient blue dial.
Instead of separate month, day, and date indications, the ref. 5236P opts for a superior presentation that is clean and concise. The simplicity of the display belies the technical achievement of the calendar display, explaining why the ref. 5236P is both less common and more expensive than conventional Patek Philippe calendar watches.
Just a year old and accompanied by all its packaging, the ref. 5236P carries an estimate of HK$430,000-780,000, or about US$55,100-100,000. With a high retail price of US$140,000, this might be an excellent opportunity to get this below retail, though quite some luck would be needed given the scarcity of the model. Full lot details here.
Not a complication in a mechanical sense but perhaps even more complex to pull off, this the enamelled pocket watch by Swiss artist Marthe Bischoff (1900-1991) is an example of something exceptionally coveted – a Patek Philippe decorated with miniature enamel.
Bischoff, a master enameller, was a longtime collaborator of Patek Philippe whose work is on permanent display at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. Mostly dating from the 1970s, pocket watches featuring her work are highly valued today and command high prices at auction. Last year a Patek Philippe pocket watch with enamelling by Bischoff on both sides sold for over US$700,000.
The Swiss artist was known for her intricate and colourful miniatures often based on historical paintings, exemplified by this ref. 866/12 that features a scene inspired by the Swabian War, or Guerre de Souabe, an event that helped cement the independence of the Swiss Confederacy from the Holy Roman Empire in the late 15th century.
Even in this small miniature work, Bischoff’s talent is clear. Her juxtaposition of the blue sky in the distance with the gloomy foreground is a subtle portrayal of contrasts between the victors and the defeated.
And in contrast to the elaborate enamelled back, the front is an austere silver dial with gold dauphine hands and baton indexes.
The ref. 866/12 is accompanied by service papers brand and an extract from the archives that confirm its production in 1971 and sale a year later. It has an estimate of HK$600,000-1 million or about US$76,900-128,000.
Full lot details here.
When Patek Philippe celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2014, it released a collection of exceptional, limited-edition timepieces to showcase its mastery of complications. One of the most intriguing anniversary watches was the Chiming Jump Hour ref. 5275P, a contemporary reinterpretation of the tonneau-shaped jump-hour introduced for its 150th anniversary in 1989. Equipped with a newly-developed movement featuring high-tech silicon parts, the ref. 5275P has an unusual aesthetic with engraved decoration on both the dial and tonneau-shaped platinum case.
The cal. 32-650 HGS PS in the ref. 5275P is more than a mere jump hour. In fact, the hours, minutes, and seconds all jump – the seconds is a deadbeat seconds that ticks forward in one-second increments, while the minutes and hours jump one step at a time. And it is also an hour striker that chimes a single note at the top of the hour just as the hour disc makes its jump.
Moreover, the manual-wind movement has the lever and gear for the jumping hour mechanism in Silinvar, which is silicon with an outer oxide layer – the first time Patek Philippe has used the material outside the escapement or balance assembly. The movement unfortunately is hidden behind a solid back bearing a commemorative engraving.
The Chiming Jump Hour ref. 5275P retains its original documents and presentation box, and has an estimate of HK$3.0-5.0 million or about US$385,000-641,000.
Full lot details here.
We cannot discuss form watches without mentioning Cartier. While its most famous case shapes are probably the Tank and Santos, the barrel-shaped Tonneau is an equally historic design. The Tonneau XL Skeleton Dual Time combines the classic Cartier case with a clever skeletonised movement that indicates two time zones that can be each set independently down to the minute.
The Tonneau XL Skeleton Dual Time was inspired from the Tonneau double fuseau (French for “double time zone”) produced by Cartier in several variants, both quartz and mechanical, in the 1970s to the early 2000s. But while those watches also showed twin, independent time zones, they were powered by two separate movements – essentially two watches in one case.
In contrast, the Skeleton Dual Time is far more sophisticated mechanically – it is powered by a single movement with two independent displays. The movement has a single barrel and regulator, but two trains, one for each time display. It’s executed in typical Cartier style, with the skeletonised dial and movement retaining an aura of classicism but showcase the complexities of the cal. 9919.
And because this is an “XL” Tonneau case, it is imposing on the wrist with substantial heft being in platinum.
The Tonneau XL Skeleton Dual Time is numbered “88/100” and includes with the original packaging and certificates. It carries an estimate of HK$320,000-60,000, or about US$41,000-82,100.
Full lot details here.
All the watches featured so far have been from the Swiss (and German) establishment. Now let’s turn our attention to a brand from the other side of the world that’s been gaining prominence internationally, Grand Seiko. Known for its sterling quality and craftsmanship at a typically affordable price point, Grand Seiko also produces high horology of an artisanal nature at the Micro Artist Studio, the specialised workshop best known for the Credor Eichi.
One such artisanally-decorated Grand Seiko is the Spring Drive 8-Day “Night Sky” ref. SBGD202 that a captivating, sparkly black dial and a manual-wind movement finished by hand in a manner that rivals the very best.
As finely finished as its platinum counterpart but warmer in tone, this example in 18k rose gold watch has a substantial case with wide, bevelled lugs that give it an imposing, almost extravagant look.
The dial is a glossy black with gold flecks that’s meant to evoke the starry night sky effect. It’s created by a unique, in-house process that starts with plating, followed by several layers of lacquer, and finally a sprinkle of gold dust.
This delicately detailed watch is powered by the cal. 9R01, a top-of-the-line Spring Drive movement with an eight-day power reserve thanks to three barrels. Made of German silver, the full bridge on the back is modelled on the silhouette of the mountain range around Shiojiri where the Micro Artist Studio is located. Like all movements produced in the studio, the 9R01 is finished entirely by hand to a level that is comparable to the very best watchmakers in Switzerland.
If you are looking for a time-only watch with exceptional finishing and a mighty movement, this Grand Seiko should be at the top of your list. The Spring Drive 8-Day “Night Sky” has an estimate of HK$160,000-310,000, or about US$20,500-39,700 – a value proposition considering the low estimate is half the retail price.
Full lot details here.
While the use of silicon in mechanical movements is now so common it’s taken for granted, the material was once extremely exotic. Proof of that is Patek Philippe’s Advanced Research Program, which for many years focused on industrialising silicon components for the brand’s movements. The first Patek Philippe watches equipped with silicon parts were all small-run limited editions, illustrating the experimental nature of the material at the time.
The very first model was the Advanced Research Annual Calendar ref. 5250G-001 that arrived in 2005. It had the same styling as the other annual calendar models of the period, but with an unusual grey dial featuring blackened hands and indices.
More important was the cal. 315 S IRM QA LU SI inside that was visible through a display back that showed off its single silicon component, the escape wheel, which sat under a magnifier on the sapphire back.
Specifically, the escape wheel was made of Silinvar, Patek Philippe’s trade name for silicon covered in a hard oxide layer. A revolutionary breakthrough at that time, Silinvar retains the same physical properties across extreme temperatures from -10 to 60 degrees Celsius, making it ideal for the escapement.
The ref. 5250G was produced in a very limited edition of just 100 pieces. This example has all of its original packaging and accessories and carries an estimate of HK$280,000-480,000, or about US$35,900-61,500.
Full lot details here.
The star of this auction, at least in terms of modern watches, is undoubtedly the Patek Philippe ref. 5207/700P-001. The reference was first launched in 2008, becoming one of the most complicated Patek Philippe watches at the time. As detailed in our earlier review, this incredible timepiece features a minute repeater, tourbillon, and instantaneous perpetual calendar with moon phase and day-night indicator, all in a 41 mm platinum case.
The multiple complications in the ref. 5207 are thanks to the cal. R TO 27 PS QI, which is evolved from the movement in the discontinued ref. 5016 but upgraded to feature an instantaneous perpetual calendar that allows the calendar indications to jump crisply at midnight, instead of changing gradually over several hours as was the case with the earlier iteration of the movement.
According to Phillips, this reference was produced in at least five variants, with this example being one of the most uncommon. This has a mahogany dial with guilloche but more unusually a case and repeater slide inlaid with obsidian stone, replacing the engraving found on all other variants of the model. Adding to its rarity, this variant had a brief production run from 2015 to 2018.
This watch is the first specimen of this specific variant to be offered at an international auction. According to Phillips, the consignor purchased the watch in 2016 and kept it locked away since then. So now it is being sold in like-new condition.
The ref. 5207/700P-001 includes its original certificate, presentation box, and other accessories. It has an estimate of HK$5.5-8.5 million, or about US$705,000-1.09 million.
Full lot details here.
Last in our selection is a brand that often doesn’t get as much attention as it should at auction, particularly its recent, complicated watches that are often underrated and value buys. One example is the Hora Mundi, a clever jumping world-time watch that’s been a staple in the brand’s collection for nearly a decade but not especially well known.
The watch features a unique world-time complication that displays two time zones, but only one is on show at any time. The button at eight allows the wearer to set the two time zones and also instantaneously switch between the two. Pressing the button switches home and local time, with the main set of hands, day-night indicator, date at 12 o’clock, and the cities disc all jumping to indicate the selected time. It is a complication that is both easy to use and ingenious.
Naturally the Hora Mundi retains the traditional Breguet style with its blued hands and guilloche dial, however, it has a larger-than-usual size of 43 mm due to the complexity of the jumping, double time-zone display.
Including its original box and papers, the Classique Hora Mundi has an estimate of HK$270,000-370,000, or about US$34,600-47,700.
Full lot details here.
Preview and auction details
All lots will be on show during the preview exhibition in the run-up to the auction. Both the auction and preview will take place at the JW Marriott Hotel in Pacific Place.
Open daily November 24-29 from 10:00 am-7:00 pm
November 28, 2:00 pm (lots 801-938)
November 29, 2:00 pm (lots 939-1070)
All times are local to Hong Kong, GMT+8.
JW Marriott Hotel
For the full catalogue, as well as viewing appointments and online bidding, visit Phillips.com.
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