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Christie's announces highlights included in the Rare Watches Auction
The top lot of the pocket watch section is the historically important personal watch of Patek Philippe’s co-founder Jean-Adrien Philippe (1815-1894). Estimate CHF50,000-100,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.

GENEVA.- On 13 May 2019, Christie’s will be holding the Rare Watches auction at the Four Seasons des Bergues in Geneva. Offering 254 watches spanning the early 19th century to the present day, the majority of timepieces have been consigned by private collectors, mainly from Europe. With estimates ranging from CHF2,000 to CHF1,000,000 the sale is expected to realise in the region of CHF 12 Million.

The top lot of the sale, with an estimate of CHF1,000,000 to CHF2,000,000, is the exceptional pink gold Rolex reference 6062 “Stelline” triple calendar with moon phase and, most notably, the celebrated star dial. What makes this watch so special is the design and the fact that the production for the reference was extremely limited – scholars estimate the number to be around 50 cased in pink gold, however only around 10 featuring this particular star dial.

Introduced at the Basel Fair in 1950, the reference 6062 is one of only two Rolex models from the period to feature a calendar complication with moon phase. The other is the reference 8171 ‘Padellone’. Unlike the ref. 8171, the ref. 6062 was housed in the iconic Rolex ‘Oyster’ case, which protects both movement and dial from moisture and dust. The mid-century Oyster case is a beautifully proportioned 36 mm. in diameter. Perfectly complementing the top lot is the yellow gold “Padellone” reference 8171 consigned by the family of the original owner (estimate: CHF250,000-450,000), as are two world-class vintage Patek Philippe perpetual calendar watches – the reference 2499 third series from 1977, estimated at CHF500,000-800,000 and the reference 2497 dating from 1954, estimated between CHF160,000-260,000.

Reference 2499 would last a remarkable 35 years in the Patek Philippe line-up, becoming the company’s benchmark grand complication. The 2499 reference went through four iterations, and the level of rarity depends on which of the series you are looking at. In total, across four iterations and 35 years, just 349 examples were made, which equates to around 10 watches a year.

Signed by Vacheron Constantin is an exceptional and probably unique five-minute repeating watch with single button chronograph created as a bespoke order in 1956 (estimate: CHF200,000-400,000). On numerous occasions, important clients pushed the design boundaries of brands to meet their special requests and the watchmaking companies delivered in their promise to meet the needs and desires of their clientele. The present Vacheron Constantin wristwatch is the ultimate expression of a great watchmaking house working closely with a client to deliver the previously unimaginable. In this instance, a gold five-minute repeating wristwatch with a single button chronograph.

Important Rolex watches naturally feature strongly in this auction, led by two of the most sought-after models of stainless steel Paul Newman Cosmograph. The “Panda” reference 6263 with Mark II dial consigned by descendants of the original owner carries an estimate of CHF350,000550,000 and a fresh to the market reference 6239 with three-colour dial dating from circa 1969 is estimated at CHF130,000-230,000. Once the property of Pop Art legend Andy Warhol is a stunning Rolex reference 3525 steel and gold chronograph, sold as part of Warhol’s jewellery and watch collections in New York in 1988, it is now offered at CHF200,000-300,000.

A newcomer to the auction world is “La Montoya”, a unique prototype of the first skeletonised Rolex Daytona chronograph revisited by Les Artisans de Genève and developed together with Juan Pablo Montoya (b. 1975). It resulted from the collaboration of Artisans de Genève and the seven-time Formula 1 race winner Juan Pablo Montoya, in creating, for the first time, a skeletonized version of his favorite watch, the iconic Rolex Daytona. This prototype has been completed and handed over to him in 2016 and has been in his possession and regularly used also during races until its consignment to this auction. The proceeds from the sale will be donated to a charitable organization which will be announced after the auction (estimate: CHF50,000-100,000).

The top lot of the pocket watch section is the historically important personal watch of Patek Philippe’s co-founder Jean-Adrien Philippe (1815-1894). Consigned by his descendants, it features Jean-Adrien Philippe’s famous design for the two-train independent centre seconds movement and is one of the first ever to be made according to Swiss patent no. 1017, dating May 1889 (estimate CHF50,000-100,000). Mr. Philippe invented the first mechanism for watches which allowed them to be wound and set by means of a crown rather than a key and was rewarded by a Gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris, in 1844. A year later, in 1845, he patented his invention and founded with Antoine de Norbert Patek the watchmaking company Patek Philippe. Consigned from the same descendants of Jean-Adrien Philippe is another remarkable and highly personal piece of Patek Philippe history, Jean-Adrien’s son, Joseph Émile Philippe’s watchmaking school timepiece. Signed by Émile and dated 1889, it carries an estimate of CHF10,000-20,000.

Continuing the theme of historic Patek Philippe watches is a silver pocket watch presented to Pope Pius IX from the Swiss Catholics to celebrate his episcopal golden jubilee in 1877. Engraved with the Pope’s coat of arms it is estimated at CHF20,000-30,000.

Two Audemars Piguet complicated watches are additional pocket watch highlights - the case and dial indexes of the unique gold and malachite minute repeating perpetual calendar watch were made by Cartier as a special commission by the present owner
in 1977, estimate CHF60,000-120,000. The classic “Grand Complication” minute repeating perpetual calendar and split-second chronograph sold originally in 1966 carries an estimate of CHF70,000-100,000.

A superb selection of modern wristwatches offering many of the most desired contemporary models comes courtesy of two important private collections. The first, the Property of an Important Swiss Private Collector (lots 96-108 and 130-154), has been compiled over the last decade and comprises a variety of sought after brands and styles, the majority preserved in virtually new condition and sold with original certificates and boxes. Highlights of this collection include watches by Richard Mille and a selection of hard-to-get modern Rolexes including Cosmograph Daytona and Submariner models. By Richard Mille are the two illustrated watches, a RM35-01 Rafael Nadal, and a RM11-01 Robert Mancini.

The second private collection, the Property of an Important European Collector, (lots 58 – 77), consists of contemporary wristwatches made by the world’s most celebrated manufacturers, preserved in excellent overall condition and sold with the full sets of accessories. The star lot is this unique Patek Philippe ref. 5077 wristwatch in platinum, with cloisonné enamel “American Eagle” dial made by the celebrated Anita Porchet (lot 77, estimate CHF100,000-180,000).

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