Auction Coverage: Top Picks from Christie’s “Rare Watches & Exceptional Complications” Auction in New York on 7th June
Having showcased the lovely lineup of watches in a Hong Kong preview session last week, auction powerhouse Christie’s will be auctioning off these amazing timepieces in its “Rare Watches & Exceptional Complications” to be held on 7th June in New York City. Having enjoyed a consistent track record in attracting discerning collectors from around the world, this Christie’s auction is expected to continue doing exactly that, enticing watch lovers with tastefully curated timepieces.
And here are the top lots that caught our attention (in lot order). Read on and find out more.
Lot #2: An Ultra Mint, Two-Tone Universal Geneve Chronograph in Gold
There is a lot to love about this UG Chronograph made in 1945. First of all this particular piece must have had one of the cleanest, most sublime two-tone dial we’ve seen in a while. That, coupled with the art-deco-ish hour numerals, make this dial an instant classic. Secondly, it is cased in a very fitting material — yellow gold — making it very dressy-looking, a very special proposition in the space of chronographs. Last but not least, a 34.5mm case size is tastefully reserved, a proportion we could definitely get behind here in Lengbeau.
Lot #3: A Zenith El Primero A386
Remember we’ve described the Zenith El Primero as one of the most iconic watch families in modern time here? Not only is the El Primero movement itself a living legend, the first Zenith watch fitted with the El Primero movement — the A386 — has enjoyed almost a cult following in the watch community and it’s not hard to understand why. Released in 1969, it’s the first ever automatic chronograph watch and I mean, look at that tri-color dial. It’s as vibrant as a watch dial can get and is so instantly recognisable that it gets re-adopted in newer Zenith watches in the years to come. With the level of appreciation of important chronographs reaching peak level amongst watch connoisseurs these days, this A386 is bound to do well in any auction.
Its estimate is between USD10,000 to USD15,000. Go here to understand more about the lot.
Lot #12: A Very Handsome Heuer Autavia Ref. 3646
It would be a massive understatement to say this Christie’s auction boasts a strong chronograph game. Coming in lot #12 is another prime example of the kind of racing chronograph so ever representative of that bygone era of the 1960s. Pure, sharp, no-frills, this Valjoux 92 powered, bi-compax Heuer Autavia can just about see its wearer through any setting from the casual to the sporty, in 2016. And honestly who can resist the charm of a classic Autavia in monotone?
Estimate is USD10,000 to USD15,000. For details, go here.
Lot #18: A Very Rare Vulcain Cricket-Nautical
Not necessarily a household name, Swiss watchmaker Vulcain should, however, be known for at least one specialty: making alarm watches under its “Cricket” line. What you see above is a diver watch from Vulcain in 1965 that incorporates that very mechanism that defines the brand, with an alarm that serves the purpose of reminding divers of their time to begin returning to the surface. Another crucial feature it has, as shown on the dial, is the inclusion of a dive table that helps divers better plan out their endeavours (exactly how a dive table works is beyond our realm of knowledge but you could learn here about it here). It is believed that there are less than 20 Cricket-Nauticals out in the market so this is certainly a rare find.
Estimate is USD15,000 — USD25,000 and you can find the lot details here.
Lot #31: A Rare Rolex Ref. 4768
This 34.5mm Rolex from 1950 has all the features that represent a far cry from the Rolex products we know of today. It is very dressy (with teardrop lugs), cased in previous material, coming in a very classic triple-calendar layout etc. And that’s what makes it so special. Also known as a Rolex “Dato-Compax”, this particular Ref. 4768 has an outer date ring with Arabic numerals in sharp blue that echoes beautifully with the blue steel hand that tells the date. The dauphine hands, applied dagger batons and even the Rolex Crown are all in yellow gold, adding to what is already a noble looking timepiece that extra layer of preciousness. Is it typical of a Rolex? Not necessarily. Is it worth your attention? Absolutely.
The estimate for this pristine mid-20th-century Rolex is USD60,000 to USD90,000. Get the full details and story here.
Lot #55: An Insanely Thin and Rare Vacheron Constantin Minute Repeater
A watch we’ve personally handled, we can guarantee you this is a very, very special watch. This is a subtle-looking, even unassuming platinum dress to the untrained eyes but the sheer thinness and that button at 9 o’clock quickly gave away what this is all about: an extreme thin minute repeater from 1950s. The watch movement is only 5.25mm thick, which is already a difficult feat in itself. Fitting a minute repeater in it? Without compromising the structural integrity of the movement? That, my friends, is what makes this timepiece so unbelievable. This particular Ref. 4261 even comes with a possible unique sector-style dial with circular guilloche hour circle, making it all the more desirable.
The estimate for this 36mm dressy yet mechanically marvellous VC is rightfully USD200,000 to USD400,000. Read its details here.
Lot #58: A Patek Ref. 130 in Steel
Any vintage Patek in steel, is sought after (because interestingly Patek so every rarely cases its watches in steel that a vintage Patek in steel can easily out-value its counterparts cased in precious metal). Simple as that. A classic chronograph in steel from Patek? You bet it’s gonna do well in auctions. What we have here is the Ref. 130 made in 1946 in all its steely glory, ready to be strapped on and get going. Standing at a rather conservative but Patek-appropriate 33.3mm, the watch sits plush and square on the wrist. The case and lugs are untouched, thus the entire watch remains in perfect proportion.
The estimate is, in our opinion, a little on the low, from USD30,000 to USD50,000. It is almost a certainty that the estimate will be beaten. For full details of the lot, go here.
Lot #71: An A-Series Original Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 5402
We’ve covered the Zenith El Primero A386 earlier and we are excited to cover yet another reference that started a whole new iconic watch collection for the years to come for its watchmaker: the Audemars Piguet Royal Ref. 5402 made in 1972 (which we also believe is one of the most iconic watch families). If you’ve read the story about the Royal Oak, you should be able to recall that it was an all-or-nothing attempt from AP to save its franchise from failing amidst the Quartz Crisis. And AP decided to produce small runs of the Royal Oak in the beginning and this A-series Royal Oak, belongs to the first 2,000 ever produced. In near mint condition, this lot represents a piece of watchmaking history.
Estimate of this original Royal Oak is USD15,000 to USD20,000. Full details of the lot here.
Lot #153: An Extremely Rare Lange 1 in Steel
Pretty much the same case (pun intended) as the Patek Ref. 130 in lot #58, this Lange 1 is made very special exactly because it comes in a steel case. It is believed that only 3 such Lange 1s were ever created in steel case with a black dial. While the relaunching of A.Lange back into the Haute Horlogerie was rather recent in comparison (in 1994), the Lange 1 has quickly cemented its status as a modern classic and can only appreciate in value from this point on. Whoever going to be the lucky owner of this Lange 1 in steel can probably rest assured he/she’s making a sound investment.
Estimate is USD200,000 to USD400,000. Visit here to understand more.