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.

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.