Rare million-dollar watches as well as models made for Gulf Royalty are to go on sale in Geneva, Switzerland, next month as part of a new series of watch auctions from Phillips.
The US-headquartered auction house together with watch consultants Bacs & Russo will hold the two inaugural auctions dedicated to fine collectors’ watches on the evenings of May 9 and 10 at Hôtel La Réserve in the city.
Highlights from the sale have already been shown in Hong Kong and New York this month and are set to be displayed in London (April 22 to 26 at Phillips Berkeley Square) prior to the pre-sale exhibitions in Geneva (May 7 to 10 at the Hôtel La Réserve).
The auction on May 9 is dedicated to the Day-Date, Rolex’s most prestigious model and one of the world's most famous wristwatches.
Phillips is honoured to partner with Pucci Papaleo, an eminent scholar of collectible Rolex watches, who will launch a book dedicated to the Day-Date at the time of the sale. In preparing for the auction, Phillips and Papaleo inspected hundreds of models across four continents, selecting 60 examples representing the utmost rarity and quality.
A leading highlight is one of the rarest and most desirable models of all Day-Dates; a reference 1831, carrying an estimate of CHF100,000-200,000 ($105,015-210,030).
One of a limited series of only eight, this watch has a unique case and bracelet and is understood to have been commissioned for the Shah of Iran in the mid-1970s. The heavy platinum case is adorned with a diamond-set bezel beautifully contrasted by a burgundy coloured Stella-type dial, with exquisite diamond hour markers.
Another highlight is the only known example of a left-handed Day-Date, with an estimate of CHF50,000 to 100,000 ($52,507-105,015). A reference 1803 with the crown on the left, instead of the right, it is cased in 18 carat gold and comes with a stunning chocolate colored Stella dial featuring diamond hour markers
The auction will also include an entire section dedicated to watches made for the Omani Royal family, with dials adorned with the khanjar, the Omani national emblem. A highlight is an extremely rare platinum cased reference 1802, featuring a stunning blue metallic dial with red khanjar, highlighted by substantial diamond hour markers and carrying an estimate of CHF50,000 to 100,000 ($52,507-105,015).
Another highlight of the auction is an early example made in 1956, the year the model was launched at the Basel Watch Fair. Made for the German market, it is in yellow gold and marked ‘Superlative Chronometer Amtlich geprüft’, also showing the weekdays in German (estimate: CHF10,000 to 20,000).
VARIOUS OWNERS SALE
The May 10 auction, titled The Geneva Watch Auction: One, will offer approximately 160 watches from various owners carefully selected on the basis of their condition, rarity and quality.
The leading highlight is an extremely rare Patek Philippe single button doctor’s chronograph in stainless steel with a superbly aged off-white silvered dial, highlighted by a pulsations scale and a sector design The watch carries an CHF1-2 million ($1.05-2.1 million).
Research has revealed that only two examples of this model were made, both for a retailer in South America; the other is now a highlight of the Patek Philippe Museum.
In terms of history, rarity, condition and quality, this watch being offered at Phillips can be considered one of the most important wristwatches in private hands.
The auction will also include rare, collectible Rolex models, led by the most renowned of three existing examples of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ‘Albino’, carrying an estimate of CHF500,000-1 million ($525,076-1.05 million). Since the creation of the Rolex Daytona in 1963, models have always featured subsidiary dials contrasting with a dark colour, either white on black or black on white. This example from 1970 stands out by carrying a uniform off-white silvery color – hence its nickname: Albino. Formerly a highlight in the personal collection of Sir Eric Clapton, it was later sold at auction and is now offered from one of the world’s most complete and important collections of Rolex Daytona watches.
Another highlight of the Rolex section is a stunning reference 6062, one of only two models ever made by Rolex featuring a full calendar and the phases of the moon, carrying an of CHF300,000-600,000 ($315,046-630,092). This example stands out not only by its original and near-perfect condition, but also by its stunning black lacquer dial, one of the rarest dial variants found on this model.
The watch was a gift to Major General Walter C Sweeney Jr - one of the most decorated Americans of the post-war era - from the commanders of the 15th Air Force and was given to him on the date of his promotion as the General of the 8th Air Force.
Another rare and desirable Rolex is a MilSub (Military Submariner) reference 5513, with an estimate of CHF70,000-120,000 ($73510- 126,018). Never available for public sale, these watches were made at the request of the British Government in the early 1970s to meet the demands of their special forces. Military edition Submariners differ in many ways from the standard production, notably featuring thicker, more legible sword-shaped hands. In addition, the revolving bezel is calibrated to 60 minutes and has minute markings throughout, as opposed to makings just on the first 15 minutes. The pin bars between the lugs holding the bracelet are made of solid steel for more sturdiness and to fit the commonly used Nato strap, and the dial is highlighted by a circled “T” just below the center indicating ‘tritium’ which is used as the luminescent material on the dial and the hands. The case back is engraved with the code of the British forces and lists details including the unit and year of issue.
A fascinating historical highlight is a watch reputedly given by Charles Lindbergh to Dieudonné Costes, one of the most famous pilots of the 1920s and 1930s and the first person to fly non-stop from Paris to New York (the opposite direction of what Lindbergh had achieved in 1927, and often considered a more difficult feat).
Costes also established a world record in 1929 when he flew non-stop from Paris to Qiqihar, China. Lindbergh was actively involved with Longines in designing the watch made specifically for aviators with the aim of enabling easy and swift navigation. The watch is accompanied by letters issued by the descendants of Costes stating that the watch was a personal gift from Lindbergh to the late Dieudonné Costes. It carries an estimate of CHF60,000-80,000 ($63009- 84,012).
These auctions are the first to take place since Phillips announced the creation of its Watch Department dedicated exclusively to the world’s finest collectors watches. The department is based in Geneva and partners exclusively with Bacs & Russo, the firm of Aurel Bacs and Livia Russo.
Meanwhile, Phillips has made two new appointments to the Watch department. Jill Chen has been appointed Business Development Director based in Hong Kong where she was previously General Manager of another auction business, while Kate Lacey has been appointed Specialist based in London where she was previously Head of Department at another auction firm.
As the only international auction house to concentrate exclusively on contemporary culture, Phillips has established a commanding position in the sale of Contemporary Art, Design, Photographs, Editions and Jewelry. Through the passionate dedication of its team of global specialists, the company has garnered an unparalleled wealth of knowledge of emerging market trends. Founded in London in 1796, Phillips conducts auctions in New York and London and has representative offices throughout Europe and in the US.
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