Auction round-up: what time is it on the moon?
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
A rare Omega Speedmaster that formed part of the “Alaska Project” on watch performance at extreme temperatures from 1971-73 has a high estimate of SFr200,000 ($202,000) when it comes under the hammer at Phillips in Geneva on November 12. The Speedmaster model was already “flight qualified” for astronaut use, but Omega hoped to make it even more reliable in the bitter cold of space by housing the watch in a detachable, thermo-protective case. Nasa, however, deemed the idea unnecessary and the project was cancelled. The watch on offer, complete with its red anodised case, is one of just three prototypes to have survived; it was sold to its current owner by the Omega museum in 2007 for SFr64,900.
Just a minute
A 1960 Audemars Piguet that is one of just seven minute-repeating watches made by the firm between 1945 and 1992 — and one of only two platinum examples — has a high estimate of SFr500,000 at Christie’s in Geneva on November 14. Originally supplied to a Spanish retailer as a heavily diamond-set piece, the watch was returned to the manufacturer in 1983 to be made “more understated” with a plain bezel and bracelet. It has remained with the same family ever since and, according to Christie’s, is in virtually new condition.
Everything must go
The contents of the remarkable clock and watch museum in Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia, are to be offered for sale without reserve by the Dr Crott auction house in Frankfurt on November 12. The attraction, now closed, was founded in 1958 by goldsmith and watchmaker Georg Abeler who had nine sons, all of whom followed him into the profession and helped the museum draw 1m visitors during its first 25 years. The dispersal sale comprises around 250 lots, many of which contain multiple items ranging from 16th-century clocks and watches to automaton musical boxes, enamel advertising signs and retail units.
As revealed in September’s Watches & Jewellery report, Phillips will stage Hong Kong’s first watch auction dedicated to vintage pieces. The sale, scheduled for November 28, will be a Rolex-themed event of 38 lots, representing one example of every important model made since the brand name was registered a little more than a century ago. Although a slim catalogue, the quality and rarity of the offerings are expected to result in total sales of around $5m. Every watch on offer has been authenticated by vintage-watch collector and expert John Goldberger; the highlight is a 1952 Reference 6062 triple calendar “Stelline” model in gold which could draw up to HK$4.8m ($619,000).
A selection of 10 vintage Patek Philippe Nautilus sports watches realised more than $500,000 when they came under the hammer at Christie’s Dubai last month as part of the auctioneer’s celebration of the model’s 40th anniversary. The top seller proved to be a 1978 example made for the sultanate of Oman which fetched $193,500. Christie’s will sell a further 30 specially selected examples of the Nautilus; the next 10 cross the block in Geneva on November 14 and include one of only two platinum versions known to survive, estimated to realise as much as SFr800,000.