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Lot 176. Bautte & Moynier. An exceptional three tune musical automaton bird cage clock with double singing birds and a butterfly, Geneva, 1825-1830. Estimate 400,000 — 800,000 CHF (367,960 - 735,919 EUR) (411,000 – 825,000 USD). Photo Sotheby's.

GENEVA.- Sotheby’s Spring sale of Important Watches on Saturday 14 May will feature at its heart an exceptional and rare musical automaton clock, shaped as a bird cage, with double singing birds and a butterfly. This masterwork of horology will lead a rich and varied selection, including timepieces showcasing the history of watchmaking, elegant and rare vintage wristwatches, and striking modern watches. 

Speaking ahead of the sale, Pedro Reiser, Department Manager, Sotheby’s Watch Division Geneva, commented, “We greatly look forward to welcoming collectors on Saturday the 14th. At centre stage will be the unique and beautiful bird-cage musical automaton and we are honoured to have been entrusted with such a rarity. The wider sale will offer a broad range of tempting opportunities: those with an eye for history will find rare and fascinating pieces; the finest manufacturers are represented, including Rolex, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Jaeger-LeCoultre; and lovers of the finest vintage and modern wristwatches will find stunning examples to instantly complement their personal style.” 

An Exceptional Musical Automaton Bird Cage Clock 
This stunning object proudly showcases the very finest of Swiss craftsmanship: its external appearance combines exquisite design and great attention to detail, while its inner mechanics represent the most advanced horological complications of the age. The bird cage features two charming singing birds as well as a captivating butterfly. 

The ornate cage, of chiselled golden bronze, sits on four lion paw-shaped feet atop a pedestal. Inside the rectangular cage are two singing birds, which jump from one perch to another, opening and closing their beaks alongside an animated fountain. 

The mechanism articulating these delicate movements, built in brass and steel, is ingeniously concealed inside the lower section of the cage. The birdsong, mimicking canaries and nightingales, is reproduced by a combination of bellows, whistles and cams, enabled by an intricate fusee-and-chain mechanism. The music box, which is concealed inside the base of this striking piece, plays three melodies which are triggered on the passing of each hour or on demand. This exceptional piece will be offered with an estimate of CHF 400,000 – 800,000 ($411,000 – 825,000), Lot 176. 

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Lot 176. Bautte & Moynier. An exceptional three tune musical automaton bird cage clock with double singing birds and a butterfly, Geneva, 1825-1830. Estimate 400,000 — 800,000 CHF (367,960 - 735,919 EUR) (411,000 – 825,000 USD). Photo Sotheby's.

The Changing Face of Watchmaking History: from Rieussec to Vacheron Constantin 
In May, lovers of horological history will be fascinated to discover a glimpse into the past which illustrates the evolution of watchmaking and its practical applications. A very rare and historically important cylinder inking chronograph made for the horse races offers a window into the world of the highly talented Rieussec brothers. Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec (1781-1866) was an important French watchmaker and inventor. Showing talent from a young age, he was already established as a leading watchmaker in Paris by the age of 24. In 1817, at the age of 36, he was watchmaker to the king. Rieussec’s brother, Nicolas Joseph, was heavily involved in the equestrian world in Paris, and it is therefore no coincidence that Nicolas Mathieu seized the opportunity to develop a timing instrument which, in 1821 became the first chronograph. Lot 165, estimate: CHF 80,000 – 120,000 / US $ 82,500 – 124,000. 

 

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Lot 165. Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec. A very rare and historically important cylinder inking chronograph made for the horse races, circa 1823. Estimate 80,000 – 120,000 CHF (73,592 - 110,388 EUR) (82,500 – 124,000 USD). Photo Sotheby's.

Beautifully encapsulating the spirit of Art Deco design, this superb and very important gem-set desk clock in yellow gold and platinum showcases the talents of some of the finest and most celebrated watchmaking houses of the 1920s. Created in 1926, this stunning and intricate piece boasts a movement signed by Vacheron Constantin, who worked in close collaboration with master craftsmen including Verger Frères (for the case, brilliantly combining carved hardstones to depict exotic scenes and creatures), and with Vladimir Makovsky (for the intricately detailed mother-of-pearl dial). The minute scale of the work is breathtaking. Lot 170, estimate: CHF 80,000 – 120,000 / US $ 82,500 – 124,000. 

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Lot 170. Vacheron Constantin/ Verger/ Vladimir Makovsky. Retailed by Black Starr and Frost: a superb and very important yellow gold platinum and gem-set Art Deco desk timepiece mvt 404140 case 10239, made in 1926. Estimate 80,000 – 120,000 CHF (73,592 - 110,388 EUR) (82,500 – 124,000 USD). Photo Sotheby's.

Covetable Vintage Patek Philippe 
Offered for the first time at auction, this very rare stainless steel wristwatch with black dial and Breguet numerals by Patek Philippe bears the rare reference 1504, which was only produced between 1941 and 1944. This watch – produced in 1941 - is all the more unusual: it is only the fifth known example of this reference in stainless steel. It is also the only known example of this reference which combines a stainless steel case, black dial and pink gold Breguet numerals – and the result is an exceedingly rare opportunity to make an exceptional addition to any collection. Lot 212, estimate: CHF 20,000 – 40,000 / US $ 20,600 – 41,100. 

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Lot 212. Patek Philippe. A very rare stainless steel wristwatch with black dial and Breguet numerals ref 1504 MVT 921092 case 623344, made in 1941. Estimate 20,000 – 40,000 CHF (18,398 - 36,796 EUR) (20,600 – 41,100 USD). Photo Sotheby's.

Enduring Elegance : an Exceptional Patek Philippe Pocket Watch 
Those present in our Geneva sale room will also be able to admire an exceptionally elegant pocket watch by Patek Philippe (reference 844) which brings together some of the finest characteristics of this revered manufacturer. Thought to be one of only two models of this reference in white gold, this fine and extremely rare open-faced minute repeating perpetual calendar watch with moon-phases bears a full digital display of day, month and date held within a single aperture. This single-aperture dial is an especially rare Patek Philippe design, enhancing the clarity and ease of reading. The sharp clear lines of the case are a credit to Antoine Gerlach. Lot 227, estimate: CHF 280,000 – 380,000 / US $ 288,000 – 391,000. 

 

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Lot 227. Patek Philippe. A fine and extremely rare white gold open-faced minute repeating perpetual calendar watch with moon-phases ref 844 MVT 861085 case 316550 made in 1973Estimate 280,000 – 380,000 CHF (257,572 - 349,562 EUR) (288,000 – 391,000 USD). Photo Sotheby's.

Rare and Ravishing Rolex 
Those with an eye for the finest examples of Swiss watchmaking giant Rolex will no doubt be captivated by an exceptional and extremely rare yellow gold chronograph wristwatch, reference 6063, “Jean-Claude Killy” produced around 1955. Introduced in 1951, this reference was only produced for 7 years. This piece boasts a very rare dial: it bears gold-applied lozenges. Only around 350 examples of this reference were made in yellow gold, and only 70 of those were born with lozenge-shaped markers. Lot 104, estimate: CHF 100,000 - 150,000 / US $ 103,000 – 155,000.  
 

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Lot 104. Rolex. An exceptional and extremely rare yellow gold anti-magnetic chronograph wristwatch with registers and triple calendar  ref 6036 dato-compax, 'Jean-Claude Killy', circa 1955. Estimate 100,000 - 150,000 CHF (91,990 - 137,985 EUR) (103,000 – 155,000 USD). Photo Sotheby's. 

 The ‘Gentleman of Formula One’: Ronnie Peterson’s Heuer Chronograph 
The afternoon session will offer watch connoisseurs the opportunity to own an exceptional memento of sporting history, thanks to a stunning watch by Heuer, presented to Formula One legend Ronnie Peterson. The 18 karat yellow gold automatic chronograph wristwatch, reference 1158 – known as the ‘pilot’s watch’ - features date registers and was presented to Peterson around 1972 by Jack W. Heuer himself. The Carrera model was launched in 1964, and fewer than 500 pieces of reference 1158 are known to have been made in 18 karat gold. Also included with the watch is the “Prix Rouge et Blanc Jo Siffert”, a 100-gram gold bar issued by the Société de Banque Suisse, which recognized outstanding bravery. It was awarded to Ronnie Peterson – known to be a gentleman on the Formula One circuit – for his performance at the 1972 Grand Prix in Nürburgring, Germany. Lot 161, estimate: CHF 10,000 – 20,000 / US $ 10,300 – 20,600.  

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Lot 161. Heuer. A yellow gold automatic chronograph wristwatch with date registers and bracelet ref 1158 case 174277 Carerra presented by Jack. W. Heuer to Ronnie Peterson, circa 1972Estimate 100,000 - 150,000 CHF (91,990 - 137,985 EUR) (103,000 – 155,000 USD). Photo Sotheby's. 

Longines’ Timekeeping Prowess 
From 1952 until 1980, Longines was the official timekeeper of the summer and winter Olympic Games. Their reference 7411-2 was widely recognized as the manufacturer’s most accurate chronograph, and was used by the Swiss Observatory in Neuchatel. A fine and rare example of this reference in stainless steel from around 1968 will be offered together with a new old stock stainless steel cushion-shaped chronograph wristwatch, reference 8271, from around 1971. Lot 144, estimate: CHF 6,000 – 9,000 / US $ 6,200 – 9,300. 

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Lot 144. Longines. A set of two chronograph watches the first: a new old stock stainless steel cushion-shaped chronograph wristwatch mvt case 15762203 ref 8271 chronograph nonuis circa 1971 the second: a fine and rare stainless steel 'professional' split second high frequency chronograph with special vernier scale ref 7411-2 mvt 14189117 circa 1968. Estimate CHF 6,000 – 9,000 (5,519 - 8,279 EUR) (6,200 – 9,300 USD). Photo Sotheby's.

Limited Edition Modern Mastery: Jaeger-LeCoultre 
The modern section of the May sale will feature an important and rare limited edition platinum tourbillon wristwatch by Jaeger-Le-Coultre, known as the “Reverso Gyrotourbillon 2”. The mechanism is housed in a massive version of Jaeger’s most iconic case design, allowing watchmakers to fit the world’s first dual-axis tourbillon with cylindrical balance spring within a wristwatch. The openwork layout of this piece is quite mesmerizing. Lot 60, estimate: CHF 150,000 – 250,000 / US $ 155,000 – 257,000

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Lot 60. Jaeger-LeCoultre. An important and rare limited edition platinum rectangular reversible skeletonized multi-axis spherical tourbillon wristwatch with 50-hour power reserve and 24 hours indication   ref 247.6.07 mvt 2599813 case 2599813 no 75/75 reverso gyrotourbillon 2, circa 2009. Estimate CHF 150,000 – 250,000 (137,985 - 229,975 EUR) (155,000 – 257,000 USD). Photo Sotheby's.