Star of Sotheby’s Hong Kong watch sale
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
The star of Sotheby’s Hong Kong watch sale, to be held on October 5 despite turmoil in the department, will be a rare Patek Philippe Reference 5013P, one of the most complicated wristwatches ever made by the company. Its 515-part movement combines a minute repeater mechanism with a retrograde date, perpetual calendar display and moon phase indicator. When the watch was launched in 1992, it was the first to combine the retrograde date complication with automatic winding and has come to be regarded as a classic. The example on offer at Sotheby’s is in immaculate condition, with an estimate of HK$2.8m-$3.8m (US$360,000-$490,000).
Time goes backwards at Asian auctions
Further evidence that the Asian auction market is turning towards vintage pieces was demonstrated at Hong Kong’s most recent sale in July when Antiquorum achieved HK$2.2m ($280,000), excluding premium, for a rare 1952 Rolex chronograph. The Reference 6036 model is known among collectors as the “Jean-Claude Killy” because it is the type of watch worn by the French triple Olympic gold medal winning ski racer, who was also one of the first Rolex brand ambassadors. The watch sold by Antiquorum was one of 144 examples of the 6036 to have been made in pink gold and carried the sort of patina that, until recently, was not popular among Asian collectors.
Nauti but nice
This year’s 40th anniversary of the Patek Philippe Nautilus — the porthole-shaped sports watch created by Gérald Genta in 1976 — has prompted Christie’s to offer 40 different examples divided between four separate auctions around the world. One batch of 10 will be included in the firm’s Hong Kong sale on November 28, with others coming up for grabs in Dubai (October 19), Geneva (November 14) and New York (December 6). The house already holds the auction record for a Nautilus following the sale of a 1982 Reference 3700/031 “Jumbo” model that fetched $896,545, double the estimate, at a Geneva sale in May 2015.
A rare example of the Vulcain Cricket Nautical, the first mechanical alarm diving watch capable of descending to 300m, sold for a modest HK$31,000 ($4,000), when it crossed the block at Bonhams in Hong Kong during the summer. The Nautical, which featured an alarm bell that could be set to ring under water to alert a diver that it was time to head for the surface, was first introduced in 1961. The version sold at Bonhams, however, was one of 300 reissues produced in 1970 with a special dial design that enabled the watch to be used for decompression calculations.
A remarkable enamelled and pearl-set pocket watch made by the Swiss firm of Juvet may fetch up to €15,000 when it comes under the hammer at the Dr Crott auction house in Frankfurt on November 12. Edouard Juvet began exporting watches from Switzerland to China in 1856, shortly after which he set up branches of the business in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. Juvet products proved especially popular with Qing dynasty royalty, which led to ownership of one being regarded as a symbol of nobility. Indeed, so popular were Juvet’s timepieces in late 19th-century China that, in an 1872 letter sent back to the firm’s Fleurier headquarters, one of the founder’s sons wrote: “Our watches sell like salt.”