Phillips’ upcoming auction in Hong Kong begins on November 24 and as is now convention, the sale includes a diverse selection of independent watchmaking.
Among the highlights in the Hong Kong Watch Auction: XVII is the F.P. Journe Coffret 38 – the collection of five watches with 38 mm steel cases made to mark the discontinuation of the brand’s historic case size. Each model in the set is significant in François-Paul Journe’s horological ascent, from the groundbreaking Tourbillon Remontoir d’Egalite to the meticulously no-frills Chronomètre Optimum, and here each watch is (relatively) accessible and sold as an individual lot.
The auction features creations from other notable watchmakers in every price range, including Daniel Roth, Habring², Voutilainen, and a Harry Winston developed by Greubel Forsey. These watches invite exploration into the history and future of watchmaking, and some tell stories of craftsmanship and innovation that captivate.
The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XVII is scheduled for November 24 and 25. Registration for bidding and the full catalogue can be accessed here.
Lots 815-819: F.P. Journe Coffret 38 set of steel watches
In 1991, François-Paul Journe introduced his first wristwatch that had a platinum case 38 mm in diameter – large enough to be unheard of at the time. In comparison, the Patek Philippe ref. 5004 split-seconds chronograph with perpetual calendar was just 36 mm. The size was necessary due to the tourbillon with remontoir d’egalité, a complex combination of complications that required space.
Over time, the standard case size for F.P. Journe grew, first to 40 mm and then to include the option of 42 mm. Some of it was to cater to changing tastes, while also to accommodate complications like the Grande Sonnerie or larger, more legible displays in the Quantième Perpétuel.
But despite the increased case options, the 38 mm case remained in production until 2015 when F.P. Journe finally discontinued it. Marking the end of the historic 38 mm case after 25 years, the brand created a limited edition of 38 sets, each containing five emblematic watches in 38 mm steel cases. The exclusive ensemble was unusual in combining the brand’s trademark 18k red gold movements with 38 mm steel cases, a contrast of metals that made it the most exceptional among F.P. Journe’s offerings.
Equipped with a mustard-coloured dials in a nod to the gold dials of early F.P. Journe watches, the set was a true rarity, although the edition did not sell out quickly or easily, those being the days before independent watchmaking became fashionable. The five watches that make up the set numbered “27/38” are now offered individually in like-new condition.
The Tourbillon Remontoir d’Egalite, originally produced from 1999 to 2003 with a brass movement, is particularly noteworthy as it was the first and only time the movement was crafted in red gold.
This is lot 815 and has an estimate of HK$1.2-2.4 million, or about US$154,000-308,000. Find out more in the catalogue.
This is the original configuration of the Chronomètre à Résonance (made from 2000 to 2009) that showcases the distinctive and near-symmetrical design with twin sub-dials.
It is lot 816 and has an estimate of HK$950,000-1.55 million, or about US$122,000-199,000. Find out more in the catalogue.
In the catalogue from 2003 to 2014, the Octa Calendrier was a bestselling annual calendar that indicated the date on a wide scale on the periphery of the dial.
It has an estimate of HK$480,000-960,000, or about US$61,500-123,000. Find out more in the catalogue.
Significant for being the first self-winding F.P. Journe model, the Octa Réserve de Marche was made from 2002 to 2014.
This has an estimate of HK$320,000-640,000, or about US$41,000-82,100. Find out more in the catalogue.
Lastly, the Chronomètre Souverain was in production since 2005 and remains in the catalogue. The model focuses on aesthetic purity and minimalism, showing just the time and power reserve. Notably, it is the most visually distinct amongst the watches of the set, as it has a white chapter ring around the mustard-coloured centre. This has an estimate of HK$320,000-640,000, or about US$41,000-82,100. Find out more in the catalogue.
Because all five watches were originally sold in a single burl wood presentation box with one certificate, the box is offered separately as Lot 820 with an estimate of HK$80,000-160,000, or US$10,300-20,500. For the same reason, none of the five watches is accompanied by a certificate.
Introduced in 1991, the Daniel Roth Retrograde boasts a distinctive double-ellipse case, a signature of the brand. While the case design is original to Daniel Roth, the complication was inspired by similar pocket watches made by George Daniels and before him Abraham-Louis Breguet. Despite its unique appeal, the retrograde was made in small numbers, likely in the low hundreds. The skeletonised version was produced in even scarcer quantities.
Like many Daniel Roth watches of the period, this is powered by a Lemania movement, but one that was customised by Daniel Roth to incorporate the retrograde hours display. Furthermore, this example boasts a skeletonised movement with fully engraved bridges as well as an open-worked barrel ratchet wheel. Concealed on the periphery of the movement is an engraved “32” that indicates that this particular piece was likely made in the early stages of production run.
According to Phillips, the version with Arabic numerals is believed to have been introduced after that with Roman numerals. Despite that, this was likely made in the early 1990s due to plain case back as well as the low movement number.
The retrograde has an estimate of HK$80,000-160,000, or about US$10,300-20,500. Find out more in the catalogue.
In 2019, to mark its 15th anniversary, Habring² introduced a perpetual calendar chronograph featuring its in-house A11P movement with a Dubois-Depraz 51100 perpetual calendar module. The model was available with a range of dials, but this example stands out with a brushed “salmon” dial complemented by silver sub-dials. Notably, the dial was amongst the first to feature Habring²’s custom font for its hour numerals.
Habring², founded by the husband-and-wife team of Maria and Richard Habring, is known for its technical expertise and affordability. With Maria running the business, Richard is the watchmaker whose past credits include the split-second chronograph of IWC.
The base movement of the Perpetual-Doppel is equipped with an improved version of the split-second module Richard developed back in the day. Habring² enhanced and refined it before adding it to its proprietary A11 calibre. The movement’s details are on display through the transparent case back, including the twin cams in blued steel for each of the chronographs.
Preserved in good condition and accompanied by two Habring² straps and its presentation box, the Perpetual Doppel remains good value with a low estimate well below its retail price. The estimate is HK$120,000-200,000, or about US$15,400-25,600. Find out more in the catalogue.
Voutilainen has made the Vingt-8 in seemingly endless variety and clients are free to customise watches as they please. That said, this particular example is a good looking watch. The combination of “salmon” with a white gold case is familiar but always attractive. And when executed with Voutilainen quality – the dial guilloche is particularly fine – the appeal is obvious.
Voutilainen is renowned for its dials, which feature meticulously crafted engine-turning, all created by hand in its Môtiers workshop. This dial is quintessential Voutilainen style with its observatoire hands characterised by blued steel rings on gold shafts.
The salmon-hued dial serves as a notable counterpoint to the intricate movement below that is conversely finished in a monochromatic grey. The in-house cal. 28 – vingt-8 in French – incorporates a regulator featuring an oversized, free-sprung balance wheel secured by a rounded steel bridge, now a Voutilainen trademark.
But the movement is not just a pretty face. The hairspring exhibits a Phillips overcoil on its outside, matched with a Grossmann curve on its inside. And the calibre boasts Voutilainen’s double escape wheels that enable the movement to consume less energy by providing simultaneous direct impulses in two directions to the balance.
Offered as a full set, the Vingt-8 has an estimate of HK$500,000-1.0 million, or about US$64,100-128,000. The low estimate is below retail, and Voutilainen has a three-year waiting list, possibly making this a good buy.
Find out more in the catalogue.
Specially developed for Harry Winston by Greubel Forsey’s movement subcontracting arm, the Histoire de Tourbillon easily evokes the movements of Greubel Forsey.
The hand-wound movement showcases a double-axis flying tourbillon with two concentric carriages that rotate the balance wheel in multi-dimensional motion. This captivating visual effect is achieved through an outer carriage completing a full revolution in 120 seconds the internal carriage – containing the balance, balance spring, and escapement – rotates in a swift 40 seconds.
The watch’s displays are arranged on twin offset sub-dials: the tourbillon indicates the running seconds at nine o’clock, hours with day/night indication at two o’clock, and minutes at six. And the day/night display is colour coded: orange for day and blue for night.
The only downside of the watch is its immense size – the case is 48.5 mm in diameter and very, very thick. The size of the case reflects its complexity; it is fitted with eight sapphire crystals, five on the front (three for the time indications) and three on the back.
Offered in excellent condition, the Histoire de Tourbillon No.2, numbered 19 of 20, is complete with its accompanying accessories. As is often the case for watches in this series, it offers good value relative to the original price with an estimate of HK$480,000-960,000, or about US$61,500-123,000, with the low estimate being about a tenth of the retail price.
Find out more in the catalogue.
Christiaan van der Klaauw, a former member of the AHCI renowned for his astronomical complications, embarked on his horological journey in 1974. In 1992, he garnered recognition for the innovative movement of the Pendule Variable, an astronomical display table clock.
Just two years later, he unveiled his inaugural wristwatch, the Satellite du Monde. This timepiece not only displayed the time, day, and date but also a moon phase and day/night indicator, as well as indicating the location on Earth where it was precisely noon.
In 1999, the brand introduced the model at hand: the Planetarium. This remarkable creation is the world’s smallest mechanical planetarium and was conceived as a tribute to historical Dutch astronomers such as Christiaan Huygens and Eise Eisinga.
Encased in stainless steel case with a 40 mm diameter, the Planetarium displays the real-time orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn around the Sun. The sub-dial at 12 o’clock, on the other hand, is the calendar.
A relatively recent example, this is powered by a Soprod base movement fitted with the brand’s in-house planetarium module. The movement also sports a hand-engraved rotor with an astronomical motif.
The present watch is offered as a complete set and has an estimate of HK$80,000-200,000, or about US$10,300-25,600.
Find out more in the catalogue.
Rexhep Rexehpi attained fame when he launched the Chronomètre Contemporain 1 (RRCC I) in 2018. The same year he won the Men’s Watch of the Year award at the GPHG, the industry’s annual awards, cementing his status a sought-after independent watchmaker.
The RRCC I is a time-only watch with a black grand feu enamel dial in two parts accented with pink gold print. Its 38 mm pink gold case is finished entirely with mirrored polish, while the curved and elongated lugs are inspired by the mid-century cases made for Patek Philippe by Emile Vichet.
But the highlight of the watch is the artisanal RR-01 movement that showcases meticulous hand-finishing, including anglage, black polishing, perlage, Côtes de Genève, and hand engraving, with the same level of care lavished on both visible and non-visible parts.
While it is a time-only watch, the RRCC I is not a simple watch. The single barrel allows for an extensive 100 hours of power reserve, but more significantly it is equipped with a hacking and zero-reset seconds. This feature halts the small seconds hand and returns it to zero when the winding crown is pulled out to set the time, enhancing precision when setting the time.
Numbered “12R” on the barrel bridge, the present watch is offered as a full set. It has an estimate of HK$1.6-3.0 million, or about US$205,000-385,000. It is no longer possible to describe the RRCC I as a value buy – the low estimate is four times retail – but its desirability is illustrated by the US$924,000 achieved by another example of the same watch in May 2023. Find out more in the catalogue.
F.P. Journe released a limited edition of Tourbillon Souverain (TN) in 2010 to commemorate the opening of its Beijing boutique. Finished in a distinctive red lacquer and featuring five stars for the power reserve scale, the dial was inspired by flag of the People’s Republic of China.
Only five examples of the China edition were made, but this is the only one with a 38 mm case – the historical case size as outlined above – with the others having a 40 mm case. The present example is only the third to surface publicly for sale.
F.P. Journe habitually celebrates its boutique milestones with limited edition models. A few, like this one, have been iterations of the Tourbillon Souverain.
The tradition started in 2006 with the fifth anniversary of the Tokyo boutique, which saw the launch of an unusual edition combining a titanium case with a ruthenium-coated white gold dial featuring rose gold accents. But most known boutique editions of any sort are housed in 40 mm cases, making this unusual.
Preserved in impeccable condition and offered as a full set, this has an estimate of HK$6.0-10 million, or about US$769,000-1.28 million.
Find out more in the catalogue.
Starting in 2004, François-Paul Journe began the idiosyncratic trio of watches with a flat tortue case, digital time display, and a dial devoid of any signature. The Vagabondage III presented here was the final instalment of the series, which are the only series of mechanical form watches made by F.P. Journe.
The original Vagabondage I set of three watches in white, yellow, and rose gold, each housing brass movements, was sold at the 30th anniversary auction of Antiquorum with proceeds going to ICM, a research institute focusing on brain and spinal cord injuries.
Following the success of the charity auction, F.P. Journe introduced the Vagabondage I in 2006. “Vagabondage” stemmed from its wandering hours display. With a tortue case, the design was a departure from F.P. Journe’s conventional collection, reputedly because the concept was originally developed for another brand. The model was produced in a series of 69 pieces in platinum and 10 pieces in platinum adorned with baguette diamonds. All versions featured a manually wound 18k rose gold movement.
In 2010, the second edition of the Vagabondage was unveiled. Like the first version, it was a limited edition of 69 in platinum and 10 pieces in platinum with baguette diamonds, but with an additional 68 pieces in red gold.
This Vagabondage II featured a digital display of hours and minutes but with a conventional small seconds at six o’clock and a power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock. In order to manage the energy needs of the instantaneously jumping digital display, a specific barrel and remontoir d’égalité derived from that in the F.P. Journe tourbillon was employed.
The final edition in the Series, the Vagabondage III was a limited series of 69 pieces in platinum and 68 pieces in rose gold. It retained the distinctive flat tortue case and again a manually wound movement with the remontoir d’égalité, but this time the constant-force mechanism was utilised to advance the digital jumping seconds display – the first and only complication of its kind in watchmaking.
Two windows at six o’clock and ten o’clock display the digital hour and seconds, while minutes are indicated by a white central hand. And the power reserve at six o’clock is indicated by a blued steel hand.
The present example in platinum is numbered “38”, in good condition and offered as a complete set. The estimate is HK$620,000-1.25 million, or about US$79,500-160,000. Find out more in the catalogue.
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 Phillips Hong Kong in the West Kowloon Cultural District.
Open daily November 18-25 from 10:00 am-7:00 pm
November 24, 2:00 pm (lots 801-903)
November 25, 11:00 am (lots 904-1011)
All times are local to Hong Kong, GMT+8.
G/F WKCDA Tower
8 Austin Road W
For the full catalogue, as well as viewing appointments and online bidding, visit Phillips.com.
This was brought to you in collaboration with Phillips.Back to top.