After spending the last few months confined to our homes and confined to our countries, we are finally back to travel and, luckily for us, we will also be able to take advantage of a nice weekend in Geneva by participating in the first 'physical' auctions of the year! Don't miss the auction 'Rare Watches'organized by the prestigious auction house Christie's that will take place on July 20 at Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues.

During this auction, Christie's will present a curated selection of watches representing over 150 years of watchmaking, made by the most prestigious houses such as Patek Philippe, Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Cartier, Omega and Longines. For this occasion I decided to select some of the approximately 200 lots in the catalog which, in my opinion, deserve more attention for their importance and rarity.

ROLEX 16523 "Porcelain Floating Cosmograph", Tiffany & Co.

Appearances can be deceiving, it should be said by looking at this 16523. For the less trained eyes I will try to highlight some elements that make it very unique and for the less accustomed to this reference.

With the reference 16520, Rolex introduces the first Daytona with automatic movement, Cal. 4030 cd "Zenith El Primero" (even if Rolex has reworked it by lowering the alternations / hour). It was a decidedly breakthrough model, with a new 40mm diameter case, crown protecting shoulders and sapphire crystal. In a short time it turned into a real icon.

This example from 1988 is part of the first MK1 series, with 200-unit graduated bezel and the word “UNIT PER HOUR” positioned at 3 o'clock unlike the MK2 and MK3 versions with 400 units per hour and moved to 1 o'clock. But let's focus our attention on the dial. In the first place it is a “porcelain” dial due to the three-dimensional effect of the writings. Another element is the writing "Cosmograph" detached from the other writings that seem to "float", "floating“, In the quadrant. Moving our attention to the counter at 6 o'clock, we can see the small "6 overturned”(9), while on the minute counter at 3 o'clock we can see the presence of four dashes, unlike the more "recent" quadrants which only have 3.

Last but not least, the presence of the writing at 6 o'clock Tiffany & Co which makes this specimen even rarer given the small quantity of Daytona “Tiffany” appeared at auction.

Lot 194, estimated between 75,000 and 110,000 Euros.

AUDEMARS PIGUET Royal Oak Ref.5402ST A-157 Tropical Dial

According to the Audemars Piguet Archive this is fascinating 5402ST it was sold to Belgium in 1972, exactly in the year it was launched on the market after being designed by the great Gérald Genta. Just think, the list price at the time was equal to 3.650 CHF! It may seem like a paltry amount, yet it was already above many gold watches thanks mainly to its complex case structure and a hand-made bracelet with decreasing link sizes.

The numbering A157 indicates that this Royal Oak is the 157th of 1000 products for the "Serie A". Watches with an individual number between A 100 and A 1000 usually incorporate the last three numbers indicated on the back of the case within the serial number engraved on the inside of the caseback and preceded by the number 67. This example also features a "A Series" dial, with the AP logo applied correctly positioned between the ninth and eleventh lines, calculated from the lower part of the dial, and the writing "SWISS" correct printed under the 6 o'clock index. It also features an original crown, date and bracelet made by the famous Gay Freres and stamped 1,72 for the first quarter of 1972.

The most notable feature of this Royal Oak however is the color of the dial, which, in the course of its 48 years of existence, has passed from black to a bronze tone very attractive. The luminous material at the indexes is aged in a sand hue, harmonizing perfectly with the color of the dial.

Lot 89, estimated between 38,000 and 65,000 Euros.

PATEK PHILIPPE Nautilus 3700/1 Sultan of Oman

If the Nautilus 3700 is now one of the most sought after and desired watches by collectors, what about this 3700/1 made for the Sof Oman produced in 1978 in only 3 examples?

The emblem of Oman is clearly visible on the dial, the "Khanjar“: A large knife / dagger crossed by two swords. This model appears for the first time on the market, while the other two models made by Patek Philippe have already been beaten by Christie's a few years ago:

- The first with case no. 536'201 and movement no. 1'304'954 sold by Christie's, Geneva, 14 May 2012, lot 315
- the second with a cash reference more than close to 1'304'952, sold by Christie's, Dubai, 19 October 2016 lot 137. 

Judging by the serial of the movement and the case, respectively 1'304'895 e 536'186, this watch was produced earlier than the others and built in a very close period to each other. Certainly their date of sale is certain: July 31 1978.

In the 70s there was no Patek Philippe dealer in Oman, consequently great pclock art depicting the "Khanjar" were sold by the luxury shop "Asprey" located in London on New Bond Street, or occasionally at their headquarters in Geneva. All thanks to the initiative of John R. Asprey, Asprey who managed to attract a large number of Middle Eastern clientele which he saw in the London shop as the perfect place to buy souvenirs on their travels. In 1970 Asprey began to expand by opening in Japan, Abu Dhabi, Quatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and… Oman. From that moment Asprey became the supplier of Sultan Qaboos of Oman, one of the most important watch collectors.

Lot 96, estimated by 350,000 - 500,000 Euros.

PATEK PHILIPPE Pink Gold Ref. 3974 JP Hagmann Case

Presented in 1989 to celebrate 150th anniversary of Patek Philippe, the reference 3974 is probably one of the rand the most emblematic references of Patek Philippe for technique and design. In-house automatic movement, perpetual calendar and minute repeater, whose refined strokes have entered the legend of watchmaking and loved by collectors. The ingenious caliber R 27 Q impresses not only with its remarkable number of components, 467, but also with Patek Philippe's masterful performance of combining a micro-rotor, minute repeater e mechanisms of the perpetual calendar in a proportionately small 12 1/2 ”movement.

The case of this 3974 was made by the famous cassista of Geneva Jean-Pierre Hagmann, with its hallmark "JPH”Embossed on the back of the lower left handle. The pink gold version is also extremely rare, having been produced in only 15 examples of which only 4 have appeared on the market so far.

Lot 110, estimated by 570,000 - 940,000 Euros.

HEUER Chronomatic Autavia Prototype Ref. 1163 the first Autavia Chronomatic

As is often the case with vintage watches, there is some interesting anecdote or story behind a particular timepiece. This is the case with this prototype Heuer Chronomatic Autavia, probably one of the first automatic chronographs made by the manufacturer. A real piece of Heuer and watchmaking history.

Before being tracked down in 2015 by Jean-Luc Gremaud, collector Heuer, this prototype - with unique characteristics - was known exclusively for an official catalog created by Heuer and dated March 3, 1969. What differentiates this watch from those seen so far on the market? Looking at the clock face, unlike the writings arranged on 4 lines "Autavia", "Heuer", "Chronograph" and "Automatic", this model has only two very large writings: HEUER e CHRONOMATIC, that is the same ones present on the model of the catalog of the time.

Le hands The hours, minutes and chronograph are also different from those foreseen for the first 1163. Evidence of the fact that these hands could have been used exclusively for the clock in the '69 catalog, before the introduction of the more common colors blue. But that's not all: even the cash is made of a "special" alloy of copper-zinc and nickel, giving the watch a yellowish color, presumably used to make prototype watches.

Lot 110, estimated by 14,000 - 23,000 Euros.

ROLEX Pre-Daytona Ref. 6238 

In my opinion one of the most beautiful Rolex ever, the reference 6238 is known as "Pre-Daytona". Many of you will remember it on the wrist of James Bond played by George lazenby, in the fur "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". In production from the early 60s to 1967, it stands out for being probably the last Rolex chronograph with a more traditional and less sporty appearance with a fully polished bezel and tachymeter scale on the dial.

The most common configuration is the one with a silver soleil dial, while the example proposed by Christie's is equipped with a rare matte black dial: seed, with silver lettering.

Lot 187 estimated by 93,000 - 140,000 Euro

PATEK PHILIPPE Ref.5074R Cathedral Minute Repeating Perpetual Calendar 

The reference 5074 it is considered one of the greatest technical and stylistic expressions created by Patek Philippe, capable of combining tradition in terms of design with innovation in the technical field. The large 42mm case allows a rich and clearer propagation of sound to the "Cathedral gongs" of the minute repeater. In addition to this complication we find the Perpetual Calendar with moon phases.

Introduced in yellow gold in 2001, the reference 5074 in rose gold was presented in 2005 with a silver dial or in the rarer black variant. Now out of production in 2014, the list price for this version was set at 542'000CHF.

Lot 109 estimated by 280,000 - 460,000 Euro

"Rare Watches" will take place in Geneva, July 20, at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Quai des Bergues 33. The auction will be divided into two events: the first at 10:30 am (Lots s 1 - 110) and at 2:30 pm (Lots 111 - 207). Then find the complete catalog.