Christie’s Important Watches auction held on June 11, 2014 in New York City, offered over 366 rare timepieces that fetched a total of $8,775,750 USD even though several lots didn't sell. This vast selection featured some of the world’s leading names including Lot 366 with a rare Patek Philippe ref. 5033 that sold for $401,000 USD inclusive of buyer's fees. Additional highlights included a extremely sought-after Rolex ‘Daytona’ ref. 6262 with pulsometer scale —Doctor's watch—, two limited edition Rolex Submariners celebrating the 'Canal de Panamá' —Panama Canal—, a Peruvian Air Force Rolex Daytona 'Paul Newman' ref. 6262, a Rolex Submariner ref. 6538 that comes from the great-grandson of the original owner, William Bumpy Graham Bell —a distant relative of Alexandre Graham Bell and prominent underwater photographer— and even an Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph "Dark Side of the Moon" that sold above its retail price amongst other very interesting timepieces.
Here's a summary of the auction with the top 13 watches that exceeded their estimates and which we consider to be very rare and special timepieces sold on Wednesday June 11, 2014.
As mentioned earlier, the star of the auction was Lot 366, a Patek Philippe ref. 5033 minute repeater with annual calendar in platinum circa 2008. The Patek ref. 5033 began its production in 2002 in platinum only and the reference was discontinued in 2012. This watch originally had an estimate between $340,000 and $380,000 and ended up fetching $401,000 USD.
Another interesting watch that fetched a very high amount was Lot 365 - Patek Philippe ref. 5004 in platinum. This perpetual calendar with split-seconds chronograph ref. 5004 was launched in 1994 and produced until 2009 in yellow, white, and pink gold, and platinum. The platinum reference 5004 is commonly seen with a black dial and either diamond hour markers or applied baton hour markers; more rarely with a silvered dial, such as the example sold. The reference derives its features from the reference 3970, which itself was based on the legendary reference 2499. However, the reference 5004 takes the complication up a step by adding the highly complex split-seconds function, and is easily recognizable by it’s oversized split-seconds pusher in the crown. This exceptional watch fetched $233,000 USD.
Lot 70 - Patek Philippe ref. 5270 Münich Edition replaced the celebrated reference 5970, making a few subtle changes to the appearance and design of the watch, and featured the in-house CH29 movement, replacing the Lemania 2310-based CH27 caliber in the 5970. The case of the 5270 is 2 mm larger, at 41 mm as opposed to the 5970’s 39 mm and featured lugs with more of a fared step. The dial of the 5270 no longer featured a tachometer scale on the outer ring. The 5970 combined the 24 hour indicator with the constant seconds dial, and the leap year indicator with the 30 minutes register. The 5270 separated all of those features —the constant seconds and 30 minute registers are each on their own subsidiary dial, and two small apertures on either side of the date/moon phase subsidiary indicate the leap year and night and day. In October of 2013, Patek Philippe presented the “KunstWerkUhr” Exhibition in Munich, Germany and released two limited edition watches, the 5130 Munich Edition and the 5270 perpetual calendar chronograph only available at the Wempe boutique in Munich. It closely resembled the standard 5270, but with two notable differences —the addition of a tachymetric scale on the dial, as on the 5970 and all of the printing on the dial was done in a deep blue color in honor of the flag of Bavaria. This special Munich edition was limited to only 50 examples and this is one of them. This watch fetched $221,000 USD.
Lot 352 - Rolex Daytona ref. 6262 with Pulsometer —Doctor's Watch— circa 1970. This Rolex Daytona with pulsometer scale is an almost mythical variant of the model with the number of pieces produced so small that it can be counted on two hands. The model was underappreciated when it was first commercially available and possibly was specially ordered only by those in the medical field. Today, it has become one of the most desirable models and a treasure for a very select few. It is known that perhaps only 10 of these watches were ever made. In addition to the pulsometer scale on the dial, Rolex made adjustments to the design and layout. The hour markers were moved closer to the center of the dial, giving it a more compact look. The scale was printed in a bright blue allowing the scale to stand out and become a prominent feature on the dial. Rolex created two variants of the Daytona pulsation scale watches, the first version like Lot 352 is without the "Daytona" designation above the 12 hour register and features a continuous fifths second divisions. The second verision features the "Daytona" designation in red and interrupted fifth seconds scale stopping before and after all of the applied steel baton hour markers. An example of the Daytona with red designation sold at Christie's Geneva in the Rolex Daytona: Lesson One sale for 761,000 CHF. This particular watch fetched $185,000 USD.
Lot 88 - Rolex Submariner ref. 6538 with Gilt Four-Line Dial meters first circa 1956 This exceptional watch comes from the great-grandson of the original owner, William Bumpy Graham Bell. A distant relative of Alexandre Graham Bell, Bumpy was an adventurer and entrepreneur and since his first diving experiences as a youngster with his brother using a home-made dive helmet, he turned his passion for the outdoors and photography in to a lucrative career as a prominent underwater photographer. This watch fetched $173,000 USD.
Lot 59 - Patek Philippe 18k Pink Gold Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch with Moon Phases ref. 1526 circa 1951. The Patek Philippe ref. 1526 was only produced from 1940 to 1952 and is known as one of the most elegant complicated models produced by this manufacture. Its scarce production also makes it one of the rarest. It is estimated that a little over 200 examples were ever made. The majority were cased in yellow gold, with a small amount being cased in pink gold. A single unique piece was cased in stainless steel and can now be seen at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. The cases for the ref. 1526 were made by Emile Vichet, who also made cases for the references 1518 and 130. The earliest dials featured a subsidiary dial with the date on the inner ring and the seconds on the outside, as a double railway, or "chemin de fer". After 1943, the date ring was moved to the outside and the seconds on the inside. Towards the end of production in the late 1940s, the subsidiary dial only had a railway around the date and the subsidiary seconds were indexed around the moon phase or the bottom half of the moon phase. The watch sold is a fine specimen of this coveted reference and fetched the incredible amount of $149,000 USD.
Lot 87 - Rolex Daytona 'Paul Newman' ref. 6262 (FAP) made for the Peruvian Air Force circa 1969. Starting as early as the 1940s, Rolex began producing watches and movements for various organizations, both military —Italian Navy and British Forces— and scientific —Comex. One of the rarest series of watches produced were the ones made for the 'Fuerza Aerea del Perù (FAP)' —Peruvian Air Force—, a branch of the Peruvian military that was created from the merger of the Peruvian Army and Navy. It is estimated that around 700 Rolex watches were supplied to the Peruvian Air Force. A few of these watches were Cosmographs, with the military designation engraved on the case back. These Daytonas are highly sought after by collectors. Other examples include several GMT Master ref. 1675 that were fitted with a blue insert —instead of the traditional blue and red 'Pepsi' bezel— as well as some Submariners. The FAP Daytona is mainly distinguished from regular production examples, because of its engraving on the outside of the case back and the engraving of the last three digits of the serial number on the inside of the case back. Early examples will have the entire serial number engraved on the inside of the case back. This Rolex Cosmograph Daytona FAP sold for $106,250 USD.
Lot 356 - Patek Philippe Anti-Magnetic watch ref. 3417 fitted with a soft-iron protective cap circa 1961. Reference 3417 was Patek Philippe's first anti-magnetic wristwatch produced in series and made in stainless steel only. It was produced starting in 1958, first with the caliber 12'''400, and beginning in 1960 with the caliber 27-AM400 through the end of production in the late 1960's. Extracts from the Patek Philippe Archives confirm production of this watch in 1961 and its subsequent sale on June 21st of the same year to Mr. A.F. Swirk for the amount of $215 dated June 21, 1961. A.F. Swirk is a retired Chief Warrant Officer of the U.S. Navy. The watch was sold with original box, all documentation pertaining the sale as well as service documents exchanged between Patek Philippe and the retired officer. A watch like this has never been offered at auction before and it fetched $87,500 USD.
Lot 234 - Audemars Piguet 18K Gold 45-Minute Chronograph circa 1946. According to the Archives of Audemars Piguet, the present watch was manufactured in 1946 and subsequently sold in New York in 1951. Audemars Piguet vintage chronographs are widely recognized by collectors as being remarkable timepieces produced in much smaller quantities than other highly distinguished Swiss manufactures. This Audemars Piguet chrono features caliber 13VZAH, a high-grade chronograph movement known for its exceptional quality. In 1946, Audemars Piguet produced a total of 853 watches, among which only 18 contained the legendary caliber 13VZAH. It is believed that this rare 45-minute chronograph was used by soccer aficionados for timing a match. This watch sold for $80,000 USD.
Lot 288 and Lot 289 - Two rare Rolex Submariners ref. 16613 and ref. 16610 made in a limited edition to commemorate the reversion of the Panama Canal. In 1999, the U.S. handed over sovereignty of the Panama Canal to Panama. To commemorate the transfer of control, a request was made to Rolex by the retailer Mercurio Joyero in Panama to create a Submariner with a personalized logo. A limited series of Rolex Submariner models were produced, 75 examples of the two-tone reference 16613 in stainless steel and 18K yellow gold and 75 examples of the reference 16610 in stainless steel. The models featured the logo of the Panama Canal on the dial, and the limited edition number was engraved on the case back. The two-tone model sold for $32,500 USD while the stainless steel model sold for $50,000 USD.
Lot 188 - Longines stainless steel Hour Angle Aviator's watch with slide rule circa 1947. According to the Archives of Longines, the present watch was sold on June 18th, 1947 to Seelich, the Longines Agent in Slovakia. The Hour Angle Watch is one of Longines most iconic watch models, also known as the Longines Weems Second-Setting Watch. The model is associated with two Americans: aviation pioneer Charles A. Lindbergh, and the man who trained him at the Annapolis Naval Academy, Philip Van Horn Weems. One of Weem's inventions was the Second Setting Watch, designed for the purpose of helping aviators plot their courses more accurately. Weems concluded that difficulty in setting a watch precisely over sea came from the fact that it was almost impossible to set the second hand exactly. His solution was the make the dial moveable so that the dial and second hand could be synchronized. Weems also designed a large ball-sized winding crown, which would allow for easy winding and setting of the time while wearing gloves. Charles Lindbergh is most well known for becoming the first person to make a solo, non-stop Trans-Atlantic flight in 1927. Lindbergh invented the hour angle watch, and it was introduced to the market in 1932. The accuracy of mechanical watches could be affected by conditions on ships and airplanes, and the hour angle watch provided a way for variations to be calculated when used in conjunction with radio signals. Both Weems and Lindbergh's contributions to both aviation and horology were vital to the progress of navigation, and their improvements come together in the Longines Hour Angle Watch. This watch fetched the incredible amount of $43,750 USD.
Lastly, perhaps the most surprising lot at the auction was Lot 200 - Omega Speedmaster Co-Axial Chronograph 'Dark Side of the Moon'. Even though this watch is readily available at the moment, its popularity has created a frenzy among collectors and the high demand has made this watch one that is somewhat hard to find across the Omega boutique network. While the watch retails brand new for $12,000 USD, this pre-owned exampled with warranty stamped November 28, 2013 fetched the incredible amount of $16,250 USD. The only thing we can say is that who in its right mind would even think of doing something like this.
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