Geneva has been abuzz as the horological cognoscenti have descended upon the city to partake in the annual weekend of high-profile auctions from all the major houses. At tomorrow’s Christie’s auction at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, 255 lots will go up for bidding started at 10:00 a.m. CET. Here are a few of the highlights spanning the 19th century, including a pocket watch once owned by the co-founder of Patek Philippe, Jean-Adrien Philippe. You can also click here to browse through all 255 lots yourself.
WatchTime’s take: Epitomizing the last 35 years as the company’s benchmark grand complication, Reference 2499 went through four iterations of which just 349 total examples were made, coming to around 10 watches a year. This model was manufactured in 1977 and is one of the final examples of the third series pieces (production stopped in 1978). The third series models are distinguished from their predecessors by rounded chronograph pushers, applied baton and numerals, a lack of tachymeter scale, and a slightly smaller diameter.
Christie’s note: “Consigned by an important private Italian collection and fresh to the market, [the watch] has always been treated with respect and care. The case has retained appealing proportions, the oxidation traces underline the fact that it has not been used for a long time. The dial has been gently cleaned and displays an attractive, uniform silver-colored patina, strong signature, and scales.”
WatchTime’s take: Once the property of Jean-Adrien Philippe, the co-founder of Patek Philippe — and consigned by his descendants —the pocketwatch features the famous design of the two wheel train independent center seconds movement and is one of the first versions to be produced according to Swiss patent No. 1017, dating May 1889. This is the first time the pocketwatch has appeared at auction.
Christie’s note: “Jean-Adrien Philippe’s final caliber, the independent seconds watch with two wheel trains and two barrels wound simultaneously by a single stem winding mechanism took, like his stem winding and setting mechanism, several decades of research, reflection and improvement to perfect. Made in 1888, the present watch is one of the very earliest examples known and constructed before patent no. 1017 had been filed. Jean-Adrien Philippe was at the time still running the firm and it can safely be assumed that he used it regularly, possibly even to improve his independent dead center seconds mechanism patented in 1889. An almost identical watch, however in hunter case and with subsidiary seconds, movement number 80’048, only just preceding the present watch, is in the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva (Inv. P-626). Its catalog entry in the Museum book states “…it is probably one of the earliest ones made. A similar watch, No. 80’050, was sold on January 31, 1894, to Jean-Adrien Philippe.” Jean-Adrien Philippe passed away on January 5, 1894. It is, therefore, most likely that watch no. 80’050 has been formally purchased from the company by his son Joseph Émile Philippe on January 31, 1894. Being his father’s watch, he had the date engraved on the cuvette and his monogram “JAP” to the case back, as a memorial to him.”
WatchTime’s take: The property of the famous American Pop Art icon Andy Warhol, the Rolex Ref. 3525 steel and gold chronograph is one of the most sought-after vintage Rolex models after the iconic Paul Newman Daytona. This model was sold as lot 250 during the sale of his extensive jewelry and watch collection in New York on December 4, 1988, then fitted with a leather strap which was replaced to a later date by the perfectly matching stainless steel and pink gold version seen here.
Christie’s note: “Introduced to the market in 1939, Ref. 3525 was made for the duration of the Second World War with production ending in 1945. Available in pink gold, yellow gold, stainless steel or steel and gold it was an important landmark model for Rolex, the reference being the very first chronograph wristwatch to be fitted with a water-resistant “Oyster” case with a screw down crown. Ref. 3525 has the further distinction of being known as the “POW” or prisoner of war watch since it was the model supplied directly by Rolex to captured Western Allied airmen incarcerated in German camps.”
WatchTime’s take: Saving perhaps the best for last, the 36-mm pink gold Rolex reference 6062 “Stelline” triple calendar with moon phase and, most notably, the celebrated star dial, is one of only two Rolex models from the period to feature the complication. This model was sold at auction by Antiquorum for CHF 315,750 on November 8, 2015, yet is expected to hammer for over a million Swiss Francs just three-and-a-half year later. Why? We’ll let the lot essay from Christie’s explain below.
Christie’s note: “When first discovered in 2015, the present watch had been in the family of the original owner since new. At some time during that long period, some curiously large luminous dots had been applied to the dial and two extra lumes were added next to the quarter indexes. Following an authenticity check of the watch at Rolex in Geneva in 2016, a previous owner chose to have those large and inappropriate lumes professionally removed and original period radium lumes reapplied. These perfectly applied lumes enhance the overall appearance of the exceptionally well-preserved dial with its original grainé base, the printing in absolutely unrestored and untouched condition.”
A version of this article originally appeared on WatchTime India.