Ineichen Zurich Special Watch Auctions: Alchemy of Gold & 17 Shades of Gray

Ineichen Zurich will host two special auctions of rare timepieces following their main auction to be hosted in Zurich and online November 20-21, 2021.

The first part of the main auction on November 20 will offer vintage and pocket watches from 13:00 to 15:00 Zurich followed by Alchemy of Gold”, a special auction of wristwatches in yellow metals, from 16:00 Zurich. Likewise, on November 21, the main auction will offer modern watches from 13:00 to 15:00 Zurich followed by “17 Shades of Gray”, a special auction of timepieces produced in tantalum, platinum and steel, from 16:00 Zurich.

The title of the “Alchemy of Gold” special auction is a nod to medieval alchemists’ efforts to transmute base metals into gold and achieve immortality through an elixir of life or philosopher’s stone.

Accordingly, the gold watches in this special auction, which embody that description, are by esteemed watchmakers Audemars Piguet, A. Lange & Söhne, Patek Philippe, Girard-Perregaux, Vianney Halter, Tissot, Daniel Roth, and Vacheron Constantin.

The auction features a tailored selection of highly sought-after wristwatches. The Vianney Halter Antiqua Yellow Gold (estimate CHF 50,000 – CHF 100,000) and the Vianney Halter Antiqua White Gold (estimate CHF 50,000 – CHF 100,000), caused a stir when the independent watchmaker revealed them in 1998.

Vianney Halter Antiqua Yellow Gold
Vianney Halter Antiqua Yellow Gold, Image Credit: Ineichen Zurich

Halter’s quirky interpretation of the perpetual calendar allows the wearer to read the hour and minutes, month/ leap year, day of the week and the date via four riveted portholes in order of decreasing diameter.

Similarly, the naming of the “12 Shades of Gray” auction emphasizes the visual content of the collectible models under the hammer, which represent the best traditions of high-end watchmaking. Brands include Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Breguet, F.P. Journe, Vianney Halter, Konstantin Chaykin, and Urwerk.

Notable among the “17 Shades of Gray” lots are three extremely rare pieces by French watchmaker F.P. Journe. The F. P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance Ruthenium (estimate CHF 200,000 – CHF 250,000) is one of 99 pieces presented from 2001 to 2003.

F. P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance Ruthenium
F. P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance Ruthenium, Image Credit: Ineichen Zurich

This watch, purchased in 2002, features a case in 950 platinum, a matt textured solid gold dial with dark grey ruthenium coating, and the unique hand-wound Résonance caliber 1499.3. The collection was the last of this watchmaker’s production of movements traditionally made from brass with galvanic coatings.

A second sought-after piece is the F. P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain Ruthenium(estimate CHF 150,000 – CHF 200,000), which is numbered and limited to 99 pieces. This one features the caliber 1498, the movement that helped the brand make its mark in watchmaking in 1999. Importantly, no more than 520 Tourbillon Souverain watches were ever produced, and that includes those in the Ruthenium Collection.

F. P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain Ruthenium
F. P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain Ruthenium, Image Credit: Ineichen Zurich

Finally, the F. P. Journe Chronomètre Souverain de Boulle (estimate CHF 40,000 – CHF 50,000) on offer is one of the rarest versions of this model. At that time, only eight watches were supplied to the authorized Dallas retailer, de Boulle Diamond & Jewelry, in the US in 2007, with two more delivered for owner Denis de Boulle and a director. This piece belonged to the owner.

F. P. Journe Chronomètre Souverain de Boulle
F. P. Journe Chronomètre Souverain de Boulle, Image Credit: Ineichen Zurich

An Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ref. 25820TP (estimate CHF 100,000 – CHF 150,000) in platinum and tantalum is coming up for the November auction. It’s the rarest version of this model, which forms part of a limited edition of only 15 pieces.

A characteristic feature is its design with a matte non-tapiserrie dial. Additionally, it is powered by the ultra-thin self-winding caliber 2120/2802, which was developed in 1995 as a sophisticated version of the original caliber 2120/2800 with the addition of a leap year indicator.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ref. 25820TP and Audemars Piguet Star Wheel Automatic Ref. 25720PT
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ref. 25820TP and Audemars Piguet Star Wheel Automatic Ref. 25720PT, Image Credit: Ineichen Zurich

The final lot from Audemars Piguet is the Ref. 25720. This collection featured dials mostly decorated with a guilloché plate. Hand-engraved dials were less common, especially like this one in platinum, ranking this Audemars Piguet Star Wheel Automatic Ref. 25720PT among the rarest of this kind.

It was released in a limited edition of only nine pieces, which is indicated at the bottom of the dial (9/9). This is probable the only Audemars Piguet model that features a limited-edition number on the dial.