After covering the notable in the upcoming auction of an impressive single-owner collection, we now turn to the highlights in Christie’s main sale, Important Watches.
Made up of 159 lots, the sale encompasses a remarkable line-up of Patek Philippe timepieces, from the quirky and historically important, like the brand’s smallest-known repeater, to the contemporary and magnificent Sky Moon Tourbillon ref. 5002R featuring a special-order black dial. Important Watches (lots 2201-2360) begins at 1:00 pm on May 26 – the catalogue is available here.
But the most significant watch in the sale is undoubtedly the ref. 2523 world time with a cloisonné dial depicting the North American continent, one of three known to exist. Given its importance and value, the ref. 2523 will be sold as the sole lot in a dedicated auction. The ref. 2523 will be sold at 7:00 pm on May 28 – more can be found here.
Compact yet exceptional, this Patek Philippe pocket watch dates to 1888 and is just 24.5 mm in diameter. According to Christie’s, this pocket watch is smallest known minute repeater ever made by Patek Philippe. It was most likely commissioned by a Spanish or Latin American customer, as indicated by the margins on the movement in Spanish.
This pocket watch has a white enamel dial with Roman numerals in black for the hours and oversized minute numerals in gilt print. Several hairline cracks are visible on the dial, but the watch remains its original condition according to Christie’s.
Inside the 18k gold case sits a gilt-finished calibre measuring 9”’ – even smaller than most modern-day wristwatch movements – that features a minute repeating mechanism with a pair of hammers and gongs.
The pocket watch is accompanied by an archive extract and a booklet documenting its details written by Eric Tortella. It has an estimate of HK$800,000-2,400,000, or US$102,350-307,030. For more, visit the catalogue entry.
Regarded as one of the most distinctive timepieces made by Patek Philippe, Dome Clocks combine a unique form and masterful craftsmanship, often in the form of cloisonné enamel. This particular example from 1990 depicts a day at the races.
Executed in impressionistic style, the cloisonné decoration captures a vibrant scene: the panels of the clock feature the jockeys locked in intense competition, while atop the dome are the spectators in their morning dress carefully following the race.
Like other second-series Dome Clocks of the period, this example has solar panel on its dome that generates the electric energy to run the motor that winds the mechanical movement. In contrast, current, third-series Dome Clocks utilise a battery to power the motor.
According to Christie’s, this particular Dome Clock is being offered for sale publicly for the first time. Accompanied by an archive extract, the clock has an estimate of HK$1.0-2.0 million, or about US$128,000-255,000. For more, visit the catalogue.
Anita Porchet’s status perhaps the leading enameller in watchmaking has elevated her creations to amongst the most sought-after. Made in 2010, this pocket watch done by Ms Porchet herself, as evidenced by the “A. Porchet” signature on the enamel decoration.
Ms Porchet’s work is an exceptional miniature painting on the case back of this white gold pocket watch, which is accompanied by a solid gold stand featuring a white marble base.
The enamel is breathtaking — a lifelike portrayal of a Bengal tiger leaping out of the water, a scene captured with remarkable detail and nuance. The tiger is rendered in cloisonné enamel, while the water is painted in translucent enamel, enhancing the dynamic nature of the scene.
The dial is blue mother-of-pearl finished with wave guilloche and complemented by applied white gold Breguet numerals. A power reserve indicator sits at 12 o’clock, blanked by the seconds sub-dial at six.
A unique piece that is fresh to the market according to Christie’s, this pocket watch is accompanied by its original box and packaging. It has an estimate of HK$1.4-2.8 million or about US$180,000-360,000. For more, visit the catalogue entry.
In 2015, Patek Philippe staged the Watch Art Grand Exhibition in London’s Saatchi Gallery, a showcase of historical and contemporary watches as well as watchmaking techniques.
As has become tradition for its Grand Exhibitions, the brand also released a collection of limited editions for the occasion that were only available at retailers in the United Kingdom. Several of the London exhibition editions were actually remakes of discontinued models, including this the ref. 5070J-012 with a radially-brushed brown dial. According to Christie’s, only five examples of the ref. 5070J-012 were made, with this example being the second to be offered publicly.
Rendered in a chestnut brown that is rare for Patek Philippe men’s watches, the dial retains the same design and layout as the standard versions of the ref. 5070. And unlike the regular production ref. 5070J that had a black lacquered finish on the dial, this has a radially-brushed surface.
The case and movement, on the other hand, remain unchanged: a 42 mm, 18k yellow gold case containing the CH 27-70 movement derived from the Lemania cal. 2310.
The ref. 5070J-012 includes its presentation box, certificate, and accessories. It has an estimate of HK$2.8-5.5 million, or about US$180,000-704,000.
For more, visit the catalogue.
The rarest chronograph reference produced by Patek Philippe in the 21st century, the ref. 3670A was a limited edition of just 16 watches made in 2012.
According to Patek Philippe, the birth of the ref. 3670A was pure coincidence: a chest was discovered on the fifth floor of the Patek Philippe Salon on Geneva’s Rue du Rhône, inside were sixteen cal. 13-130 movements originally assembled in 1948, finished in 1955, and untouched since then.
With the rediscovered trove of cal. 13-130 – the calibre found in most Patek Philippe chronographs made in the mid-20th century – Patek Philippe created a limited edition with a cushion-shaped steel case and radially-brushed, slate grey dial.
At just 37 mm in diameter, the ref. 3670A has the dimensions of a vintage watch, but it is clearly a modern design, creating a pleasing contrast with the “new old stock” movement inside.
Still in excellent condition, this ref. 3670A is accompanied by its original accessories and presentation box. Unsurprisingly, it boasts one of the highest estimates in the sale of HK$7.2-12 million, or about US$922,000-1.54 million.
Full lot details here.
Once the most complicated Patek Philippe wristwatch ever made until it was displaced by the Grandmaster Chime, the Sky Moon Tourbillon remains one of the brand’s most important and recognisable timepieces. Majority of the Sky Moon Tourbillon ref. 5002 produced were fitted with silver dials on the front (with the standard star chart dial on the reverse face). But this example features a special-order black dial with red accents, matched with a rose gold case for a striking, high-contrast aesthetic.
Although other examples of the ref. 5002 are known with black dials, all are different, either in the details of the dial or the case material. One of the unique features of this example are the hour markers: the red Roman numerals that are typically found on black dials have been replaced with brilliant-diamonds set on rose gold chatons.
With the exception of the dial, the other is otherwise identical to the regular-production ref. 5002. It’s a double-face grand complication featuring a star chart on the reverse and the perpetual calendar display on the front, while the movement also incorporates a tourbillon and cathedral-gong minute repeater. Typical of the ref. 5002, the 44 mm rose gold case adorned with engraved Calatrava cross motif on its flanks.
According to Christie’s, this is the first example of this ref. 5002 variant to be offered at an international auction. While the case has minor surface wear, the watch remains in an overall excellent condition. The watch includes its original certificate, presentation box, and other accessories. It has an estimate of HK$24-48 million or about US$3.10-6.14 million. Full lot details here.
Concluding our roundup of highlights is perhaps the most anticipated lot of Christie’s spring season auctions, the Patek Philippe ref. 2523J HU DE with a cloisonné dial depicting the North American continent. Distinctive with its two crowns and cities disc, this remarkable watch incorporates the world time mechanism invented by Louis Cottier, the Geneva engineer who also devised other complications used by Patek Philippe.
The ref. 2523 HU (“HU” is short for heures universelles or “universal time”) is amongst the rarest and most valuable Patek Philippe watches ever made. According to Christie’s, only 26 examples of the the ref. 2523 HU are known. Most of them were in yellow or pink gold, with only one in white gold.
Of four examples have a cloisonné dial depicting the North American continent, including the present watch. Like many other watches of this stature, the history of this example watch is well-documented. It was purchased by the original owner in 1955 and remained in his possession for 34 years, until it was sold in the landmark Art of Patek Philippe auction staged by Antiquorum in 1989, where it was the cover lot.
Staying with its second owner for the next 23 years, the watch subsequently reemerged at Christie’s in 2012, where it sold for a then-record price of CHF2.77 million to the current owner, a Hong Kong tycoon whose watches are being sold in stages by Christies in a series of sales known as the Triazza Collection.
The ref. 2523 HU DE has an estimate of HK$55.0-120 million or about US$7.00-15.4 million.
For more, visit the catalogue.
Preview and auction details
All lots will be on show during the preview in Hong Kong. Both the preview exhibition and sale will happen at the Halls 3D to 3G of HKCEC.
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
1 Harbour Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong
May 25, 10:30 am – 6:30 pm
May 26, 10:30 am – 12:00pm
The Masterpieces Auction II
May 25-28, 10:30 am – 6:30 pm
May 26, 1:00 pm
The Masterpieces Auction II
May 28, 7:00 pm
All times and dates are local to Hong Kong (GMT+8).
The catalogues for both sessions are online – the first for the Important Watches and the second comprising the selection from The Triazza Collection.
This was brought to you in collaboration with Christie’s.Back to top.