Lead image, James K./@waitlisted
After successful sales for all the major houses in Geneva and Hong Kong last month, all eyes are now on New York, where Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s will each host a live auction at their Big Apple headquarters over the next week.
All three of the leading houses have put together deeply impressive catalogs of over 125 lots, each. And it’s worth noting that although Christie’s and Sotheby’s have consistently hosted live auctions this month, they’re joined for the first time by Phillips, who are hosting their inaugural New York summer sale this weekend. It’s a sign that the New York auction scene is more prominent than ever.
Christie’s Important Watches Of Exceptional Provenance, Featuring The Kairos Collection Part III, June 8-9, 2022
All the action kicks off on Wednesday, at 6:00 PM ET, at Christie’s command post in Rockefeller Center. Keith Davis, Head of Americas for Christie’s Watches, and our old friend Adam Victor, Senior Watches Consultant for Christie’s, are presiding over a deep catalog that includes the third and final installment in the sale of the Kairos Collection, a single-owner stockpile of watches that Christie’s has disseminated over the past month in Geneva and Hong Kong and that primarily consists of complicated and rare contemporary Patek Philippe watches.
The remaining Kairos Collection lots make up the first 68 lots and the entire first evening of the sale, but the second night doesn’t shy away from playing the vintage hits. Remarkably, throughout the full 137-lot auction, nearly two-thirds of the available watches are fresh to market and come from either the original owner or their family.
Lot 58: A Contemporary Cloisonné Classic From Patek Philippe
Remember Patek Philippe’s New York Art of Watches Grand Exhibition in 2017? It was an unforgettable experience. Patek released a handful of watches to commemorate the occasion, and more than one are showing up at the sales this week, but this example is the clear highlight in my mind. It’s the ref. 5513R-012, a world timer minute repeater that features the UNESCO Heritage site, the Lavaux Vineyards on the edges of Lake Geneva, on the dial in cloisonné enamel. It’s one of five pieces, and it served as the debut of the chiming caliber R 27 HU. The estimate on lot 58 is between one and two million dollars.
Lot 64: A Very Special Split-Seconds Chronograph
Patek Philippe very recently showed us its latest development in the rattrapante genre with the release of the 5470P-0011. But it wasn’t that long ago that the world was going crazy over Patek Philippe’s initial forays in the production of in-house split-seconds chronographs, such as with this ref. 5950⁄1A-010, a 2010 release that followed the Patek ref. 5959, the firm’s inaugural split-seconds chronograph from 2005. I love the classic look and feel of the 5950 – it wears a touch larger than the 5959 but carries over quite a bit of the the vintage charm of the early design. Lot 64 at Christie’s features a blue dial with silver numerals, a combination that was produced in a run of just 10 pieces and carries an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000.
Lot 94: A Fresh-To-Market Rolex Ref. 6263 ‘Paul Newman’ MK1 Oyster Sotto Cosmograph Daytona
One of two fresh-to-market vintage Rolex Paul Newman Daytonas that will be available this week, lot 94 is a remarkable Rolex Daytona with a Paul Newman Oyster Sotto Mk-1 dial configuration. It comes from the family of the original owner, based in Canada, and is one of five known 6263 examples with this exact dial configuration. FYI – all five examples with this identical dial configuration were delivered to Canada originally. Christie’s has the estimate currently set between $600,000 and one million dollars.
Lot 111: The Remarkable Red Dot
This extremely uncommon example of Patek Philippe’s ref. 3448 perpetual calendar features an unexpected aperture between three and four o’clock that’s filled with bright red enamel. The proverbial “red dot” seen here is an early example of a leap year indication at Patek Philippe; in fact, lot 111 is one of only two examples of the ref. 3448, in white gold to include a leap year indicator, some of the very first Patek Philippe perpetual calendars with the ability to do so. And yes, if you’re wondering, the watch was modified by Patek Philippe almost immediately after it was created to include the interesting, integrated white-gold bracelet.
This exact watch has been sold a few times at auction over the years, including at Christie’s London in the 1990s, but from a pure historical perspective, I think it still has to be one of the year’s top auction highlights so far. Christie’s has given it an appropriate estimate to match that prestige, between $800,000 and $1,600,000.
Lot 120: A Watch That Inspired History
This weekend, a few days after the Christie’s sale wraps up, Phillips is auctioning off a number of watches owned by the actor James Garner, whose credits include The Great Escape, a 1964 World War II film that chronicles an attempted mass getaway by British Commonwealth POWs who were held hostage at the Nazi Germany Stalag Luft III camp. Although the James Garner watches are attractive and notable, there’s still nothing like the real thing – which Christie’s has in lot 120.
This Rolex ref. 3525 “Monoblocco” chronograph was delivered to Royal Air Force Lieutenant Gerald Imeson while he was imprisoned and trying to escape from Stalag Luft III. It’s a remarkable story of real-life resilience and intrigue, and the watch has an estimate of $200,000 to $400,000. You can read more about this exact watch in a 2013 HODINKEE article written by Eric Wind shortly before it sold for the very first time at Bourne End Auctions in Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom.
This Christie’s auction has a whole lot of hidden gems, such as lot 52, a Patek Philippe ref. 5170G with a special-order sunburst blue dial complemented by Breguet numerals. Similarly, lot 65 is a Patek Philippe ref. 5004 that features the ultra-rare combination of a black dial paired with an 18k pink gold case. I’m a sucker for wood marquetry (and rodeos), so I can’t help but shout-out the one-of-10 Patek Philippe ref. 5089G-070, released for the company’s 2017 Grand Exhibition in New York. The “Double Red” and “Patent Pending” Rolex Sea-Dweller (lot 93) is also sure to catch some attention, as is the Tiffany-signed Rolex Daytona ref. 6263 (lot 95) in 14k yellow gold that still has its Tiffany inventory number visible on one of the lugs.
One of the watches I missed entirely my first few times going through the Christie’s catalog is the Heuer Autavia “Siffert” ref. 1163, lot 114, which was gifted by Steve McQueen to a man named Ray Summers during the filming of Le Mans in 1970. Summers worked in the costume and wardrobe department on the film and was a close friend of McQueen. The watch is consigned by Summers’ widow, and the watch comes with a number of images and a letter from Summers’ wife that details the friendship between Summers and McQueen.
Christie’s, Important Watches of Exceptional Provenance, Featuring The Kairos Collection Part III, takes place on June 8-9, 2022, starting at 6:00 PM ET on both days, at 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY, 10020. You can explore the rest of the 137-lot catalog and register to bid online.
Phillips New York Watch Auction: SIX, June 11-12, 2022
This is the first time Phillips is hosting a sale in New York in June, and it doesn’t disappoint. I spoke with Aurel Bacs and Alexandre Ghotbi last week in Geneva for the introduction of their recent Zenith collaboration, and they couldn’t help but rave over the work done by Paul Boutros and his team in New York in assembling the sale. New York Watch Auction: SIX consists of 163 lots, ranging from a selection of contemporary independent highlights to an impressive assortment of vintage pieces from Patek Philippe, Rolex, Omega, and Audemars Piguet.
Lot 12: The Earliest George Daniels Anniversary Watch
We all know the significance of George Daniels (if you don’t, here’s a brief refresher), and we all know just how rare a wristwatch bearing his name is. He only crafted a pair of wristwatches by his own hand through his lifetime. But, you might be thinking, aren’t there more than two George Daniels-signed wristwatches out there? There are. Two separate batches of wristwatches were produced under the guidance of Daniels and completed by his protégé, Roger Smith. The George Daniels Millennium was launched in 1998 in a series of 50 pieces, and the George Daniels Anniversary was announced in 2010, the same year of Daniels’ death. Lot 12 at Phillips this weekend is an example of the latter. Out of 47 Anniversary pieces produced, only four were crafted out of platinum, and this example is the very first, bearing serial number 00 on the movement. It carries an estimate of $500,000 to $1,000,000.
Lot 115: The Watch Gifted By F.P. Journe To George Daniels
Coincidentally, the same year the George Daniels Anniversary watch was announced, F.P. Journe gifted Daniels with a watch of his own. This unique Chronomètre Souverain is engraved “FP to George Daniels my mentor 2010” on the movement and comes with a signed letter from Francois-Paul Journe to George Daniels.
The watch first sold in 2012, in an estate sale two years after Daniels’ death. It since came to auction once again just last year at Christie’s Hong Kong, when it sold for HKD 3,250,000, or approximately $414,602 USD. There’s more visibility than ever on the auction scene, so I think it’s fair to expect a bit more from lot 115 at Phillips this weekend, although it currently has an estimate of $250,000 to $500,000.
Lot 29: A Rolex GMT-Master Owned By Forrest Bird, Inventor Of The Mechanical Respirator
The name Forrest Bird might not mean much to you, but I promise you that his invention means a whole lot to countless individuals around the world. Bird was a biomedical engineer who developed and invented the world’s first, reliable mass-produced mechanical respirator, an invention that has saved innumerable lives since it debuted in 1965. Lot 29 at Phillips is Bird’s personal Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675, a watch he wore throughout his life and career. It has an estimate of $40,000 to $80,000.
Lot 111: Lemon Fresh: A Remarkably Clean Rolex Daytona Paul Newman ‘El Limoncito’
The second fresh-to-market Paul Newman Daytona up for grabs in New York this week that I’m highlighting here is lot 111, a special 18k yellow gold example with a “Lemon” dial and a “Hecho in Mexico” bracelet. More than one collector has described this watch to me as the “best” vintage Rolex watch available this auction season, due to its originality and condition. The watch comes from the family of its original owner and has an estimate of $600,000 to $1,200,000.
Lot 125: ‘It Won’t Be Back’: The Custom AP Royal Oak Offshore Worn By Arnold Schwarzenegger During ‘End Of Days’
It’s well-known that Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the first celebrities to collaborate with a watch brand on a specific watch, after helping design and develop a special-edition Royal Oak Offshore that he wore while filming 1999’s End Of Days. The unique black-and-yellow Offshore eventually inspired a production run of 500 pieces, and I think it would be fair to describe the watch as having served as the basis for nearly every celebrity/watch brand relationship since. Phillips sourced the original example worn by Schwarzenegger in the movie for its New York sale. Lot 125 is a worthy grail for anyone intrigued by the intersection of watch and celebrity culture. It has an estimate of $25,000 to $50,000.
Don’t miss lot 11, the open-dial Roger Smith Series 2 – those hands are to die for. The jade F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain in platinum (Lot 10) is also rarely seen and worth a prolonged look. It might be hard to believe, but it’s true: lot 88 is only the third-ever Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 3700/1 in 18k yellow gold to appear at auction.
American actor James Garner’s Cartier Baignoire (lot 23) and custom-dial Heuer Carrera (lot 24) can both be yours, but make sure to read our previous coverage on Garner’s Carrera, from 2017, right here. And I don’t know about you, but I can hardly keep my eyes off the black-polished tourbillon bridge on the one-of-20 Lange 1 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst (lot 49).
Phillips New York Watch Auction: SIX takes place on June 11-12, 2022, starting at 10:00 AM ET on both days, at 432 Park Ave, New York, NY, 10022. You can explore the rest of the 163-lot catalog and register to bid online.
Sotheby’s Important Watches, June 15, 2022
Sotheby’s New York is the final sale on this season’s calendar. Scheduled for June 15, Sotheby’s is auctioning off a catalog that stretches over 175 lots across a single day. It’s a pretty remarkable selection, featuring no less than four (!) Tiffany-stamped 5270s, a few early, brass-movement F.P. Journe examples, and a number of unique-piece Audemars Piguet grand complications.
Lot 49: Four Words: Steel, Vintage, Patek, Chronograph
Although the Sotheby’s catalog is heavy on contemporary pieces, one of my highlights is lot 49, a stainless-steel Patek “Tasti Tondi” ref. 1463. Less than 180 examples of the 1463 chronograph in steel are believed to have been made in the 1940s and ’50s. But what makes this example even rarer is the use of applied Breguet numerals for all 12 hour markers – a combination that’s appeared fewer than 20 times over the years. This example is in attractive condition and was originally sold in the United States in 1949; it has an estimate of $250,000 to $500,000.
Lot 73: A Black Ceramic Royal Oak Grand Complication Unique Piece
I hesitated to include any additional Royal Oaks in this round-up outside the End Of Days Offshore simply due to the absolute saturation of examples that have emerged since the Geneva sales in May. But I think lot 73 at Sotheby’s is too special to skip. Manufactured in 2020 on the special request of an AP client, this is a unique-piece Royal Oak Grand Complication produced in black ceramic. It’s hard to think of a Royal Oak that better encapsulates Audemars Piguet today than this watch – it’s the classic Royal Oak, pushed to the limit. It carries an estimate of $200,000 to $400,000.
Lot 75: An Early F.P. Journe Tourbillon
It almost feels like an endless amount of interesting F.P. Journe wristwatches from the late 1990s and early 2000s have come to market over the past two years, but that doesn’t make lot 75 any less special. This example of F.P. Journe’s Tourbillon Souverain à Remontoir d’Egalite comes from the model’s inaugural production year of 1999 and features the characteristic brass movement, but it dates to the third “generation” of pieces produced that year. In other words, no, it’s not a Souscription piece, but it is a fresh-to-market example of one of the most important Journe timepieces ever produced, which is why Sotheby’s has given it an estimate of $500,000 to $1,000,000. (Although I should mention that Phillips does have a second-generation 1999 Tourbillon Souverain à Remontoir d’Egalite, lot 116, that’s also fresh to market and is available this weekend; it has a slightly lower estimate of $300,000 – $600,000.)
Lot 164: An Early F.P. Journe Octa Chronographe With A Special Dial
Similar to lot 75, this Octa Chronographe (lot 164) is an extremely early example with a brass movement. It comes from the original owner, who purchased the watch through La Pendulerie in Paris in 2001, the year the watch was announced. La Pendulerie was F.P. Journe’s sole retailer in France at the time, and Sotheby’s believes there’s a good chance lot 164 was the first watch delivered in the country. What makes this watch even more unique compared to other early Octa Chronographes is the dial, which the owner had adjusted by Journe during a service early in the watch’s life to include a clous de Paris finish and an elevated relief crosshatched decoration on parts of the dial. The watch has an estimate of $250,000 to $400,000.
Lot 179: A Complicated Patek Philippe Fit For All The Anglophiles Out There
One of just five pieces, the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph ref. 3970P “London Edition” was originally made for the 2015 Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London. It features a platinum case, a black dial, a moonphase display, and a Breguet-style 12 o’clock numeral. Lot 179 is only the second example of the five produced to come to market, just in time for Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee this year. It has an estimate of $200,000 to $400,000.
Remember how engrossed I was by the unique-piece Royal Oak and Urwerk models made for Marcus (of London) Margulies and that sold at Phillips in early May? Well, we have another special Royal Oak designed by – and for – Marcus: Lot 119 is a Grand Complication with a skeleton dial that’s highlighted by bright red accents and placed in a PVD-coated titanium case. Oh, and earlier in the sale, you’ll find the sweep of four Tiffany-stamped 5270s, in four different metals, starting at lot 53.
I’d also love to see the gem-set Rolex Day-Date, lot 76, perform strongly after Sotheby’s set the record for a Day-Date at auction earlier this year. Additionally, the sale includes an early F.P. Journe Resonance, a Rolex Daytona ref. 6239 “Solo,“ a white-gold Royal Oak Grand Complication with a bright blue “Yves Klein” dial, and a Tiffany-signed Patek Philippe ref. 1463 that are all worth looking over before next week’s auction.
Sotheby’s New York Important Watches takes place on June 15, 2022, starting at 10:00 AM ET, at 1334 York Ave, New York, NY, 10021. You can explore the rest of the 180-lot catalog and register to bid online.
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You can view the complete catalogs and register to bid online at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s, respectively.