Highlights: Artisanal Timepieces at Sotheby’s Hong Kong

From cloisonné Patek Philippe to a Cartier Panthere.

Having covered the notable from independent watchmaking and complications at Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction on April 5, we turn to timepieces that are all about artisanal crafts, ranging from cloisonné and marquetry.

Amongst the highlight is a Patek Philippe Dome Clock depicting the African savannah in cloisonné and another is the Cartier Tortue ref. 2496 with the jeweller’s signature panther motif.

Important Watches I takes place on April 5, 2023. Registration for bidding and the catalogue can be accessed here.

Lot 2101: Cartier Tortue LM Panthere

This wristwatch two enduring elements of Cartier design, a form case and the panther motif. It’s a large-size Tortue – French for “turtle” – with a panther on the dial in champleve enamel.

The large variant of the Tortue (instead of the oversized “XL”), this measures 34 mm in diameter, giving the dial ample real estate for the panther.

The panther’s visage is executed in champlevé, where the dial base is first engraved with the motif before being painted and fired.

This is powered by the cal. 430 MC, an ultra-thin manual mechanical movement that is actually the Piaget cal. 430P.

Accompanied by its box and papers, this has an estimate of HK$200,000-300,000, or about US$25,000-38,200. You can find out more in the catalogue.

Lot 2131: Audemars Piguet “Rolls Royce Phantom II”

Before becoming synonyms with the Royal Oak, Audemars Piguet (AP) produced a diversity of elaborately decorated wrist- and pocket watches, particularly in the 1990s when such timepieces were in fashion. An example of the brand’s output from this era is this pocket wear depicting the Rolls Royce Phantom II.

Made of gold, the dial is open worked and engraved to form Rolls-Royce’s top of the line automobile in the 1930s. Automotive motifs are often found in AP wristwatches of the period, but such pocket watches are uncommon.

The case is platinum and 46 mm in diameter but slim thanks to the Frédéric Piguet cal. 5020 inside. Interestingly, the bezel is set with a double row of diamonds, baguettes on the outside row and brilliant-cut diamonds inside.

This watch dates to 1986 and is accompanied by its certificates and exterior packaging. It has an estimate of HK$240,000-500,000, or about US$30,600-63,700. You can find out more in the catalogue.

Lot 2132: Patek Philippe Dome Clock “Lake in the Savannah” 

Some of the most significant contemporary metiers d’art timepieces are actually clocks, specifically the Dome Clocks of Patek Philippe. Only a handful are made each year and each is less a timekeeper than a canvas for artisanal decoration.


Like many of its peers, this example is decorated in cloisonné, but the motif is unusual, depicting the African savannah in vivid hues. 

With graceful flamingoes, a lurking panther, and a pink sky illuminated by the setting sun, the enamelled panels of the clock set this out as amongst the most striking Dome Clocks.

Like all modern-day Dome Clocks, this relies on a battery-powered motor to wind the mechanical movement responsible for telling the time.

Made in 2019, this clock remains in excellent condition and is accompanied by its original accessories. The estimate is HK$800,000-1.2 million, or around US$102,000-153,000.

For more, visit the catalogue.

Lot 2135: Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos du Millénaire Marqueterie

Famous for its Reverso wristwatch, Jaeger-LeCoultre is also a clockmaker of note thanks to the Atmos that runs on air. A temperature sensitive metal drum within the clock expands and contracts with changes in ambient temperature, keeping the clock going.

While the Atmos collection spans a wide range of prices and styles, amongst the most elaborate ever made is the Atmos du Millénaire Marqueterie. Launched in 1999 on the cusp of the new millennium, this clock incorporates a 1000-year perpetual calendar and a case of finely crafted exotic wood veneer. The inside panels of the doors are inlaid with Art Nouveau motifs modelled on the work of Czech painter Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939).

A drawer in the base of the clock contains pens, ink, and 10 gilded brass tubes, each containing a parchment to record the happenings of the next 1000 years.

Complete with all of its original accessories, the present example remains overall in excellent condition. It has an estimate of HK$300,000-500,000, or about US$38,200-64,000.

Find out more in the catalogue.

Lot 2269: Patek Philippe Dome Clock “Une page d’Histoire”

Decorated with a stylised European battle scene, this Dome Clock is instantly recognisable as an older example by virtue of the solar panel on its dome, as opposed to current examples are that rely on a battery to wind the mechanical movement.

But its artisanal decoration is timeless. Depicting cannons, horses, smoke, and flags, the cloisonné enamelling was done by Elisabeth Perusset Lagger, an artisan known for her stylised motifs in vivid colour. Identified by the “EPL” signature in gold wire, her work can be found on many Dome Clocks of the late 20th century.

This example is accompanied by an archive extract and has an estimate of HK$240,000-500,000, or about US$30,600-63,700. 

For more, visit the catalogue entry.

Preview and auction details

All lots will be on show during the preview in Hong Kong during the run-up to the auction. Both the preview exhibition and sale will happen at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (New Wing).

April 1-4

April 5, 10:00 am

Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (New Wing)
1 Expo Drive
Hong Kong

For the full catalogue, as well as viewing appointments and online bidding, visit sothebys.com.

This was brought to you in collaboration with Sotheby’s.

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Rolex Introduces the Yacht-Master 42 in RLX Titanium Ref. 226627

A no-frills sports watch.

Ever since Rolex discreetly revealed the one-off Yacht-Master in titanium made for Olympic sailor Sir Ben Ainslie, enthusiasts have been waiting for the commercially-available equivalent (which got all the more likely after the release of the Rolex Deepsea Challenge last year). And now Rolex has finally done it with the Yacht-Master 42 in RLX titanium. Similar to Sir Ben’s watch but with the addition of a date and matching titanium bracelet, the Yacht-Master 42 is perhaps the most restrained sports watch in the current Rolex catalogue. 

Initial thoughts

Being a long-time fan of the Yacht-Master line, I’m glad to see this has finally arrived. Though large in size, it’s lighter and consequently more wearable. The muted colours and finish give it a no-fuss, contemporary look that sets it apart from the usual sports Rolex, but it retains the recognisable Yacht-Master style with its relief bezel.

Perhaps the recognisable look is the only aspect to critique: the watch is little changed in terms of design from past Yacht-Master models (which were mostly in precious metals). The option of a rubber strap as seen on Sir Ben’s watch, for instance, would have given the Yacht-Master collection some variety.

At CHF13,400, the Yacht-Master 42 is priced reasonably relative to other Rolex sports models. However, compared to the all-titanium offerings from Tudor – the Tudor Pelagos 39 is very, very similar – this is less of a value proposition, but it is still a Rolex.

A more wearable Rolex

The Yacht-Master 42 employs Rolex’s proprietary RLX Titanium for the case and bracelet, making it the second-ever all-titanium Rolex after the Deepsea Challenge in serial production. Described as lightweight and corrosion-resistant, RLX Titanium is a grade 5 titanium alloy that made its debut in the one-of-a-kind watch made for Sir Ben.

The combination of materials and finishes gives the Yacht-Master 42 a low-key appearance that diverges from previous models in the collection, which tended to be in precious metal with lots of polished surfaces.

While the Deepsea Challenge is a whopping 50 mm in diameter, the new Yacht-Master is a wearable 42 mm. Larger than the typical Rolex dive watch, the Yacht-Master has modern proportions that match the material and aesthetic. And the case is matched with a titanium bracelet that features the brand’s proprietary Easylink extension system.

The bi-directional rotating bezel features a Cerachrom insert with relief markings, a trademark feature of the Yacht-Master line. To complete the black ceramic bezel is a dial finished in a matte black, which contrasts sharply with the hour and minute markers and hands filled with luminous Chromalight.

Powering the Yacht-Master 42 is the cal. 3235, one of the brand’s latest-generation calibres that boast most of its recent innovations, including the patented, energy-efficient Chronergy escapement, non-magnetic Parachom Blue hairspring, and a power reserve of 70 hours.

Key facts and price

Rolex Yacht-Master 42
Ref. 226627

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: RLX titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 mm

Movement: Cal. 3235
Features: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: RLX titanium bracelet

Limited edition: Regular production
At Rolex retailers
Price: CHF13,400

For more, visit Rolex.com.


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