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An exceptional and rare gold and enamel musical automaton snuff box with timepiece, Piguet et Capt à Genève, 1801- 1807. Sold for: CHF 749,000 (842,408 USD). Photo: Sotheby's

GENEVE- Hier, chez Sotheby’s Genève, plus de 550 amateurs de montres s’étaient donnés rendez-vous pour enchérir sur des garde-temps rares célébrant les valeurs et la quintessence de l’art horloger. La plus belle enchère de la journée est allée à une exceptionnelle boîte à prisée en or et en émail du début du XIXème siècle renfermant une montre et un automate. Deux collectionneurs passionnés se sont disputés ce chef-d’oeuvre de l’horlogerie suisse, faisant monter l’enchère finale jusqu’à CHF 749,000 ($842,408). La vente de Haute Horlogerie s’est conclue sur un résultat total de CHF 10,123,625 ($11,386,142) (est. CHF 6.9-10.6 million / $7.7-11.8 million).

S’exprimant à l’issue de la vente, Geoffroy Ader, Directeur du Département de Haute Horlogerie en Europe, a déclaré : « La vente d’aujourd’hui démontre clairement la forte demande pour des gardetemps combinant une provenance et une condition impeccables. Les prix atteints pour des pièces de Vacheron Constantin inédites aux enchères et l’enchère record établie pour un montre Panerai reflète la diversification du marché. C’est la recherche de la qualité qui a motivé les enchères disputées pour de magnifiques exemples vintage de marques iconiques telles que Rolex. Notre vente a également rendu hommage aux valeurs fondamentales de la haute horlogerie, avec des objets uniques d’importance historique. Les prix atteints par la boîte à prisée et notre sélection de garde-temps couvrant deux siècles d’art horloger témoignent du discernement des collectionneurs internationaux. » 

Tim Bourne, Directeur mondial du Département de Haute Horlogerie a ajouté : « Suite au succès de la vente d’aujourd’hui et compte tenu de l’engouement des collectionneurs pour des objets rares et exceptionnels, nous attendons avec impatience la vente de Sotheby’s New York en juin qui présentera de cinq montres importantes en titane de Patek Philippe jusqu’ici inconnues ».

UN CHEF-D’OEUVRE DE L’HORLOGERIE SUISSE

Le lot phare de la vente – une boîte à prisée à trois compartiments en or et en émail – a été produit dans les ateliers genevois de Piguet & Capt vers 1801-1804. Cette pièce exceptionnelle d’une grande rareté renfermait une scène animée représentant une leçon de musique (lot 334, est. CHF 600,000-800,000/ $685,000-910,000).

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An exceptional and rare gold and enamel musical automaton snuff box with timepiece, Piguet et Capt à Genève, 1801-1807. Estimate 600,000 — 800,000 CHF. Lot sold 749,000 CHF. Photo: Sotheby's

the case of rectangular form, the central lid with a finely painted polychrome enamel classical scene depicting a music lesson inhabited by young girl holding a music book and two children, one playing a flute, within a classical setting, painted in the manner of Lissignol en plein with rich hues of red, yellow and burgundy • the scene framed by gold egg and dart motif and further embellished with opaque black stringing, the side panels applied with gold classical figures • the right playing a harp and the left carrying a water vessel both against an opaque powder blue enamel ground, the right lid opening to reveal an automaton scene applied with vari-color gold figures representing a seated lady playing the harp using both hands and a gentleman tapping his foot in beat to the music and moving his forearm back and forth holding a monocle in his hand, the figures beneath a caged bird who at the end of the song flies from its cage, with a dog standing in wait below, the scene applied against a finely painted polychrome enamelled  interior scene • the opposite compartment with small  white enamel dial at 6 o'clock with arabic chapters, moon-style hands, beneath a circular open work grill which reveals the balance fitted with regulation arc • all against an engine-turned blue enamel ground embellished with gold wreaths and foliate swags partly decorated with white enamel, the side panels and bottom decorated with translucent blue enamel against a wavy engine-turned ground, the back and front corners further engraved with gold baskets heightened by opaque white enamel • rectangular movement with cylinder escapement, pinned disc mechanism driving both the music and the automata • movement plates for both the watch and automata scratch signed Piguet et Capt a Genève, one with no. 89  and the other no. 91, the box stampedGG(B) partly indistinct below a crown for Guidon, Gide et Blondet Fils, accompanied by the Asprey Exhibition Catalogue; length 87 mm.  

MONTRES-BRACELETS VINTAGE

Les montres vintage Panerai ont fait l’événement. Une enchère record pour une montre de la célèbre manufacture italienne a été établie lors de la vente d’une montre-bracelet de plongée en acier avec lunette prototype, référence 6152/1, Luminor, env. 1955 pour CHF 425,000 ($478,002). La montre de l’Amiral Gino Birindelli, ancien commandant des forces navales en Italie, a ainsi doublé son estimation basse (lot 298, est. CHF 180,000-360,000 / $205,000- 409,000). Les exemples de la référence 6152 sont d’une extrême rareté et l’apparition de ce modèle, jamais mis en vente, représentait une opportunité unique pour les collectionneurs.

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Panerai. An extremely rare and historical large stainless steel cushion form military diver's wristwatch with prototype bezel Ref 6152/1 Luminor case 12948 circa 1955. Estimate 180,000 — 360,000 CHF. Lot sold 425,000 CHF. Photo: Sotheby's

cal. 15''' manual winding nickel lever Rolex movement, 17 jewels, metal protective cap • black dial, luminous Arabic numerals and baton indexes, luminous hands • stainless steel brushed and polished case, protected winding crown with security lever, prototype bezel, screw-down case back • dial signed, case and movement signed Rolex • with a stainless steel Panerai buckle; dimensions 57.5 x 46 mm thickness 19 mm

Aujourd’hui, l’attrait de Rolex a été confirmé, des modèles et des références rares atteignant de nouveaux sommets. La « Ultimate Panda » - un exemple rare de la référence 6263 avec boîtier 6262 cosmographe Daytona « Paul Newman Panda Dial », env. 1972 a été vendue CHF 359,000 ($403,771) (lot 341, est. CHF 250,000 – 500,000 / $284,000 – 570,000). La Rolex Daytona demeure une icône incontestée parmi les montres-bracelets du XXème siècle et les collectionneurs ont apprécié cet exemple de la référence 6263, accompagné de tous ses accessoires d’origine.

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Rolex. A rare and exceptional stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with registers tachometer and bracelet Ref 6263/6262 Case 3048318 Cosmograph Daytona 'PAUL Newman Panda dial' circa 1972. Estimate 380,000 — 580,000 CHF. Lot sold 509,000 CHF. Photo: Sotheby's

cal. R27-PS-QR, circular automatic nickel lever movement stamped with the seal of Geneva, 41 jewels, Gyromax balance, 22k gold micro-rotor, minute repeating on two gongs • black dial, applied Breguet numerals, Breguet hands, apertures for day, leap year indication and month in English, fan-form aperture for moon-phases combined with subsidiary seconds, retrograde sector for date • tonneau case, stepped bezel, minute repeat slide to the band, snap-on back • case, dial and movement signed • with a platinum Patek Philippe buckle; dimensions 46 x 37 mm thickness 12.5 mm

Autre lot phare de la sélection de montres « vintage », une montre-bracelet référence 6062, l’une des rares produites par Rolex avec triple calendrier et phases de la « Star Dial » a été adjugée CHF 209,000 ($235,064) (lot 342, est. CHF 80,000 – 160,000 / $91,000 – 182,000). La montre était mise en ventee par son propriétaire d’origine (lot 342, est. CHF 80.000 – 160.000 / $91.000 – 182.000).

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Rolex. A rare yellow gold automatic triple calendar wristwatch with moon-phases Ref 6062 case 916361 "Star Dial" circa 1952. Estimate 80,000 — 160,000 CHF. Lot sold 209,000 CHF. Photo: Sotheby's

cal. 9 3/4''' nickel lever movement, 18 jewels • silvered dial, applied gold star-shaped and dagger indexes with luminescent dots, gold dauphine hands, two apertures for day and month, subsidiary seconds combined with fan-form aperture for moon-phases, outer ring for date with blue central date hand • 18k yellow gold brushed and polished Oyster case, screw-down case back • case, dial and movement signed • with a gold plated Rolex buckle; diameter 36 mm thickness 14 mm

MONTRES DE POCHE VINTAGE

L’évolution de l’art horloger était illustrée par une superbe sélection de montre de poche vintage couvrant six décennies. La production du début du XXème siècle était représentée par un ensemble de montres de poche créées par Vacheron Constantin qui se sont souvent vendus pour plusieurs multiples de leurs estimations hautes. Fabriqué vers 1933, un modèle rare de la référence 3372 en or blanc et rose avec 31 fuseaux horaires mondiaux (31 villes représentées) et cadran trois tons a réalisé CHF 305,000 ($343,037), plus de dix fois l’estimation d’avant la vente (lot 209, est. CHF 28,000- 35,000 / $31,800-39,800). Autre lot phare de ce groupe, une montre de poche en platine signée Vacheron Constantin avec phases de la lune à midi s’est vendue pour CHF 173,000 ($194,575), plus de 11 fois son estimation basse (lot 211, est. CHF 15.000 – 25.000 / $17.100 – 28.400).

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Vacheron Constantin. A fine and rare white and pink gold open-faced world time keyless watch with three-tone dial Ref 3372 Mvt 416362 CasE 257268 Made in 1933. Estimate 28,000 — 35,000 CHF. Lot sold 305,000 CHF. Photo: Sotheby's

cal. RA 17''' 15/12 manual winding nickel lever movement, cut bi-metallic balance, 18 jewels • three-tone silvered dial, applied baton indexes, pearled minute divisions, rotating silvered ring calibrated for 24-hours with Arabic numerals, outer ring with black enamel names of 31 world locations • 18k white gold case with pink gold band and stylised bow • case, dial and movement signed; diameter 45 mm.

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Vacheron Constantin. A fine and rare platinum open-faced triple calendar watch with moon-phases and power reserve Mvt 414423 Case 258459 Made in 1932. Estimate 15,000 — 25,000 CHF. Lot sold 173,000 CHF. Photo: Sotheby's

cal. RA 17''' manual winding nickel lever movement, 18 jewels, cut bi-metallic compensation balance • silvered dial, applied white gold Arabic numerals, outer track with minute divisions, subsidiary seconds, elongated aperture for day, date and month in French, fan-form aperture for moon-phases bordered by sector for power reserve indication, moon hands • polished case, snap-on back • case, dial and movement signed; diameter 47 mm.

MONTRES-BRACELETS MODERNES

De plus en plus recherchées, les montres-bracelets modernes étaient aujourd’hui à l’honneur. La vente comprenait un exemple rare de la référence 5013P, l’une des plus belle montres modernes de Patek Philippe, un modèle remarquable par son boitier tonneau en platine. Cette montre, emblématique du grand art de la manufacture genevoise dans le domaine des complications, a réalisé CHF 509,000 ($572,477) (lot 160, est. CHF 380,000-580,000 / $432,000- 660,000).

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Patek Philippe. An  exceptional platinum automatic minute repeating perpetual calendar tonneau wristwatch with retrograde date and  moon-phases Ref 5013P MVT 1908100 Case 4481012 circa 2010Estimate  380,000 — 580,000 CHF. Lot sold 509,000 CHF. Photo: Sotheby's

cal. R27-PS-QR, circular automatic nickel lever movement stamped with the seal of Geneva, 41 jewels, Gyromax balance, 22k gold micro-rotor, minute repeating on two gongs • black dial, applied Breguet numerals, Breguet hands, apertures for day, leap year indication and month in English, fan-form aperture for moon-phases combined with subsidiary seconds, retrograde sector for date • tonneau case,  stepped bezel, minute repeat slide to the band, snap-on back • case, dial and movement signed • with a platinum Patek Philippe buckle; dimensions 46 x 37 mm thickness 12.5 mm.

OBJETS INSOLITES

Des garde-temps insolites étaient également à l’honneur ce printemps. Créé en 1907 probablement dans les ateliers londoniens de Cartier, une horloge en argent et émail pour tableau de bord a trouvé preneur pour CHF 112,500 ($126,530) (lot 94, est. CHF 50.000 – 70.000 / $57.000 – 79.500). L’horloge était accompagnée de sa boîte originale en cuir. 

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Cartier. A very rare enamel and silver gilt clock with time thermometer and barometer indication to be displayed on a car dashboard circa 1907. Estimate 50,000 — 70,000 CHF. Lot sold 112,500 CHF. Photo: Sotheby's

gilt lever movement • three subsidiary white enamel dials featuring indication of time, thermometer, barometer, graduated with Arabic numerals • round shape with a leather back, two holes to hang the clock on the dashboard, winder with time adjustment button, the front decorated in a neo-classical style, outer ring in silver gilt stamped with French hallmarks, inner translucent blue enamel, turquoise outer ring on subsidiary dials, inner white enamel decorated with stars • dial signed; diameter 15 cm

Lorsque l’art de l’horlogerie se marie à celui de la joaillerie, les résultats sont parfois sensationnels, comme le montre une magnifique bague-montre Art Déco en platine sertie de diamants, Cartier, env. 1937, qui a presque triplé son estimation pour se vendre à CHF 149,000 ($167,582) (lot 180, est. CHF 30,000-50,000 / $34,100- 57,000). 

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Cartier. A fine and rare platinum and diamond-set ring watch circa 1937. Estimate 30,000 — 50,000 CHF. Lot sold 149,000 CHF. Photo: Sotheby's

cal. 101 manual winding baguette duo-plan movement signed Le Coultre, no. 33318, lateral lever escapement • cream dial, baton and triangular indexes, blued steel hands • platinum case of geometric design pavé-set with single-cut and baguette-cut diamonds, back-winder • movement signed Le Coultre, ring signed Cartier; dimensions 17.5 x 19 mm thickness 5.5 mm.

GENEVA.- Yesterday, at Sotheby’s Geneva, nearly 550 watch connoisseurs from across the globe registered their intention to bid on rare timepieces which celebrated the central tenets of the art of fine watchmaking. The sale was led by an exceptionally rare 19th century gold and enamel snuff box with a concealed timepiece and musical automaton. Two passionate bidders competed for this masterpiece of Swiss horology, driving the final price to CHF 749,000 ($842,408). The auction totalled CHF 10,123,625 ($11,386,142) (est. CHF 6.9-10.6 million / $7.7-11.8 million). 

Commenting after the sale, Geoffroy Ader, Head of Sotheby’s European Watch Department commented: “Today’s sale emphatically demonstrates the continued strong demand for rare examples of watchmaking skill which combine exemplary provenance and extraordinary condition. The highly competitive global bidding for never-before-seen pieces by Vacheron Constantin and the record price set for Panerai are emblematic of a diversifying market. The search for quality was apparent in the intense competition seen for vintage achievements by iconic brands such as Rolex. Our sale also paid homage to the original values of watchmaking, with unique items of historical significance, and there was enormous enthusiasm by discerning international connoisseurs not only for the Automaton Snuff Box, but also for our selection of timepieces spanning 200 years of watchmaking craftsmanship.” 

Tim Bourne, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Watches, commented: “The strength of today's sale, with its extraordinary enthusiasm for the rare and exceptional, undoubtedly creates enormous excitement in the marketplace for the highly important yet unknown five titanium watches from Patek Philippe to be offered by Sotheby's New York at auction in June.” 

MASTERPIECE OF SWISS HOROLOGY

Today’s star lot - a three compartment gold and enamel snuff box – was produced in the workshop of Piguet & Capt in Geneva, circa 1801-1804. The right lid opens to reveal an automaton scene with a seated lady playing the harp and a gentleman tapping his foot in beat to the music and moving his forearm. The figures stand beneath a bird jumping from a cage (lot 334, est. CHF 600,000- 800,000/ $685,000-910,000). 

VINTAGE WRISTWATCHES

Vintage watches from the workshops of the renowned manufacturer Panerai were well represented in the sale. Today, Sotheby’s Geneva established a world auction record for a Panerai watch when it sold a stainless steel military diver’s wristwatch with prototype bezel, reference 6152/1, Luminor, circa 1955 for CHF 425,000 ($478,002) (lot 298, est. CHF 180,000-360,000 / $205,000-409,000). Coming from the collection of the late Admiral Gino Birindelli, former commander of the Italian Navy, this rare example of the reference 6152 appeared for the first time at auction today. 

The appeal of Rolex was confirmed throughout the sale, with unique models and references setting new landmarks. The “Ultimate Panda” - a rare and exceptional reference 6263 Cosmograph Daytona “Paul Newman Panda Dial”, circa 1972 achieved CHF 359,000 ($403,771) (lot 341, est. CHF 250,000 – 500,000 / $284,000 – 570,000). The Rolex Daytona has retained its status as an unchallenged icon among 20th century wristwatches and this example of the 6263 reference was accompanied by all of its original accessories. Another outstanding lot - The ‘Star Dial’ reference 6062 - one of very few references produced by Rolex with triple calendar and moon phases realised CHF 209,000 ($235,064) (lot 342, est. CHF 80,000 – 160,000 / $91,000 – 182,000). The watch was being offered by its original owner and was in original condition, displaying a warm, slightly off-white grained finish and subtle patina. 

VINTAGE POCKET WATCHES

The evolution of the art of timekeeping was illustrated in a superb selection of vintage timepieces, spanning six decades and showcasing the know-how of this sector. The early 20th century was represented by a fine ensemble of pocket watches created by Vacheron Constantin, with many lots selling for many multiples of their high estimates. Made in circa 1933, a rare white and pink gold pocket watch, reference 3372, with 31 time zones (31 cities) and a three-tone dial realised CHF 305,000 ($343,037), more than 10 times the pre- sale estimate (lot 209, est. CHF 28,000- 35,000 / $31,800-39,800). Another stand-out in the group was a fine and rare platinum pocket watch with calendar, power reserve and moon phases at noon – a rare setting for this complication - which sold for CHF 173,000 ($194,575), more than 11 times the pre-sale low estimate (lot 211, est. CHF 15,000-25,000 / $17,100-28,400). 

MODERN WRISTWATCHES

Fine modern wristwatches were highly sought after today. An example of one of Patek Philippe’s most beautiful modern watches - the Reference 5013P with its unmistakeable platinum tonneau-shaped case – sold for CHF 509,000 ($572,477) (lot 160, est. CHF 380,000-580,000 / $432,000- 660,000). This watch symbolizes the famous manufacturer’s artistry in its complications: calendar functions, moon phases and perpetual calendar. 

Lady’s watch are rare at auction. This spring’s sale featured an impressive “Reine de Naples” wristwatch by Breguet which surpassed expectations and realised CHF 161,000 ($181,078). Produced circa 2010, this exquisite timepiece in white gold was set with diamonds and ruby, weighing 4.8 carats and 5.8 carats respectively (lot 142, est. CHF 40,000-60,000 / $45,500-68,500). 

UNUSUAL PIECES

A number of beautiful and unusual pieces also feature this spring. Testament to a golden age of automobiles, an enamel and silver gilt dashboard, created in 1907, probably in Cartier’s London workshops, more than doubled pre-sale estimate and achieved CHF 112,500 ($126,530) (lot 94, est. CHF 50,000 – 70,000 / $57,000 – 79,500). The clock was presented in its original leather case. 

When the art of watchmaking embraces that of fine jewellery, the results can be sensational, as demonstrated by a ravishing Art Déco diamond ring watch designed by Cartier circa 1937 which almost tripled estimate and sold for CHF 149,000 ($167,582) (lot 180, est. CHF 30,000-50,000 / $34,100- 57,000). 

Previous record for a Panerai Watch: A very rare stainless steel cushion-shaped diver's wristwatch made for the Egyptian Navy Signed Radiomir Panerai, REF. 6154, small egiziano model, case signed Rolex, no. 997'603, movement signed Rolex, circa 1954 Sold for $326,500 at Christie’s New York in December 2012.