Christie’s has announced the highlights of its Geneva Rare Watches Spring ’22 Auction, 09 May 2022. This live sale will offer an amazing selection of most sought-after timepieces (158 lots) manufactured by prestigious Maisons.
The Daytona Trilogy and other vintage Rolexes
Lot 38 – Rolex Daytona 18k gold Cosmograph Ref. 6269 ‘Jack of Diamonds’
Featuring diamond-set bezel and pavé diamond and sapphire-set dial, this Rolex Daytona 18k gold Cosmograph was made for the French market. It is one of only two examples known publicly bearing French importation marks and the Rolex France logo “Sté*R” for “Société Rolex”.
Rarely ever seen at auction, the ultra-luxurious diamond-set reference 6269, the so-called ‘Jack of Diamonds’ remains one of the most elusive models among all gold Cosmographs.
The exterior of the case back is stamped with the French ‘owl’ importation gold marks and both the case back and bracelet clasp are stamped with the Rolex France Logo. These special marks are only found on one other publicly known reference 6269 and a handful of other highly important Rolexes of other references, including two of the equally legendary reference 6241 “John Player Specials”. Inspired by the French ‘owl’ gold mark, reference 6269s bearing this mark, including the present watch, have been given the additional nickname “Le Hibou Grand-Duc” or “Great Horned Own” among collectors.
A remarkable model within the historic context of the Cosmograph family, the diamond-set gold reference 6269 is considered to be one of the ultimate luxury vintage Rolex chronographs. It is also an immense rarity, as it was manufactured late in the production period of the manually wound Cosmograph, which was discontinued in 1987.
In the mid-1980s it was considered extraordinary for a chronograph wristwatch to be set with diamonds but due to a select yet significant demand for such pieces, Rolex responded with the specially created reference 6269 which has its own specific design features, including a bezel set with brilliant-cut diamonds and a stunning pavé-set diamond dial with sapphire hour indexes. A particularly attractive feature of the model is the 18K gold ‘riveted’ Oyster bracelet which lends a refined vintage 1960s aesthetic to this reference’s overall appearance.
Lot 129 – Rolex Paul Newman Tropical Lemon Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6264
The very rarest, most beautiful and individually significant Rolex Cosmograph Daytonas are today esteemed as important 20th century works of art.
The 18K gold reference 6264 with ‘Tropical lemon Paul Newman’ dial has the remarkable distinction of having had very few owners since new. It was the property of the original owner until around 2012.
Since that time, it has changed owners to end up within the collection of one of the most important European Rolex collectors. It has been carefully preserved and treasured by the present owner for the last 5 years. It is certainly one of the most important gold Paul Newman Daytona wristwatches in existence.
Lot 128 – Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6241 ‘Champagne Paul Newman Dial’
In the world of Rolex Daytona collecting and appreciation at the very highest level, extreme rarity is measured by small degrees. Only the scarcest references with the most stunning untouched dials and unquestioned originality make the grade for today’s highly informed and discerning international collectors. The rarity of the 18k gold reference 6241 with ‘Champagne Paul Newman’ dial is approximately on parity with the reference 6241 ‘John Player Special’.
The reference 6241 was produced for around only 3 years between 1966 and 1969 and is therefore a rare reference in its own right. Available in stainless steel, 14K and 18K gold with either exotic ‘Paul Newman’ or non-exotic dials. The famed ‘John Player Special’ is the most instantly recognizable of the former category, however, what is not widely realized is that the champagne dial model with its hugely attractive gilt printing is equally as rare as the ‘John Player Special’. Indeed, 18K gold versions with ‘Champagne Paul Newman’ dial such as the present watch exist in even smaller numbers.
This breath-taking watch has a magnificently preserved and utterly perfect dial. The champagne grené surface is flawless even under magnification, the luminous accents are superb, perfectly match the luminescence of the gold hands. The full case features well-defined proportions: indeed, it displays the all the reassuring signs of honest use over the last 54 years, the serial and reference numbers are clearly legible as are the hallmarks on the back of two lugs. The overall appeal of this superb timepiece is completed by the very rare Mark 1 bezel, highly sought-after by collectors.
Another closely related 18K gold reference 6241 with Champagne Paul Newman dial with serial number 1’757’892, only five numbers away from the present watch, was sold by Christie’s Geneva om 13 November 2013 as lot 197.
Lot 24 – Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Ref. 6263 Tropical ‘Paul Newman Panda Dial’
Fresh to the market and possibly unique with a tropical Mark 1.75 dial, the sheer beauty and untouched nature of this highly appealing reference 6263 is evident even at first glance.
The white background of the dial has remained very fresh and blemish-free, the luminous accents are intact and evenly aged, perfectly matching the luminescence of the hands. Furthermore, the dial displays a fascinating combination of unmistakable characteristics.
Firstly, over the last 53 years, the original black colour of the outer track has transformed into a seductive deep even brown hue. The change in colour from black to deep brown is understood to be caused by the reaction of the dial paint to external elements such as humidity or exposure to light.
As a result of this natural process, every ‘tropical’ dial is unique. The tropicalization of the outer ring of this watch bestows a visually striking contrast between the black of the bezel and subsidiary dials and the white of the main part of the dial.
This three-colour aesthetic immediately alerts the observer to the fact that this 6263 is something out of the ordinary. Another interesting aspect is that the subsidiary dials are considered “Big Eyes” being wider than on Mark II Paul Newman Panda dials, almost touching the outer track of the of the dial. The present watch is elevated to an even higher level due to its very rare Mark 1.75 dial of which less than 10 examples have been recorded.
Considered the ultimate vintage Cosmograph model, few watches elicit as much excitement from collectors today as a completely fresh to the market reference 6263 Paul Newman Panda, especially with a ‘tropical’ colour-change dial. The case with screw down chronograph pushers and black bezel is combined with what is generally agreed to be among the most beautiful dials ever created for a wristwatch. It is unquestionably one of the ultimate goals for the Rolex collector.
Lot 127 – Rolex Ref. 6062 ‘Stelline’, 18K Gold Automatic Triple Calendar Wristwatch with Moon Phases and Star Dial
This extremely rare reference 6062 ‘Stelline’ is a superb discovery to the world of Rolex collectors. According to experts, it has never been offered at auction before. Of the approximately 670 reference 6062 produced in yellow gold, less than 150 examples have ever appeared on the open market. Of these, few are fitted with the iconic luminous version of the ‘Star Dial’.
The dial is in superbly original condition, retaining its subtle grainé finish and original printing throughout. Furthermore, the apertures for the month and weekday indications are sharp and angular, a feature which is so easily lost when such a dial is refinished. The case is very attractive with lines well preserved, both on the upper side and also to the back which retains its original satin finish and clear hallmark. Similarly preserved between the lugs, the reference number is still fully legible.
This example of this trophy model, fresh to the market, with the rare luminous ‘star’ dial and in such untouched and original condition after 70 years presents an opportunity not to be missed.
The Kairos Collection Part I
The Christie’s Geneva Rare Watches sale on 9 May 2022 will also feature the ‘Kairos Collection’ – the finest collection of Patek Philippe contemporary timepieces ever to appear at auction.
Curated by a private distinguished collector with a discerning eye for excellence and the ability to acquire the rarest watches, The Kairos Collection is the fruit of years of dedicated focus and a passion for the most prestigious of provenances, with every single timepiece in absolutely pristine condition.
30 pieces will be presented in Geneva as Part I, followed by Hong Kong as Part II and New York as Part III. Among these 30 pieces, highlights including fabled grand complications such as a Ref. 5959R-001 Split-Seconds Chronograph in rose gold with black dial and a Ref. 5074R-001 Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar in the same livery. Here the details on selected highlights:
Lot 65 – Patek Philippe Pink Gold Split-Seconds Chronograph Limited Edition Ref. 5959R-001, Retailed by Tiffany & Co
The reference 5959R is so rare and exclusive that few people have ever seen one or are even aware of its existence. This pink gold split-seconds chronograph with black dial and Breguet numerals was only made for one year between 2016 and 2017 in a special limited series of 15 examples.
The present watch was purchased from Tiffany & Co., New York. According to experts, it is only the second example ever to be offered at international auction. Reference 5959 is one the modern Patek Philippe models which best preserves the DNA and heritage of the revered Maison Genevoise. In fact, a practically unique case in the history of Patek Philippe, it is a virtually exact replica of a vintage model, specifically the first split second chronograph wristwatch ever produced by the company (movement no. 124’824) in 1923.
The only differences are the modern signature, the co-axial button in the crown and the snap on back instead of hinged. This modern tribute to Patek Philippe heritage is a masterpiece of design and is the archetypical officier-style watch. The present version with black dial and Breguet numerals was made only in rose gold in a limited edition of 15 pieces in 2016 before being discontinued in 2017.
One of the scarcest modern models by Patek Philippe, in order to be granted the chance to purchase an example by the company, collectors had to make an application and pass an extremely strict selection process based on their horological interests, present collection, and collecting criteria.
Lot 66 – Patek Philippe Cathedral Minute Repeating Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5074R-001, Retailed by Tiffany & Co
Beyond its exceptional appeal as a perpetual calendar cathedral repeater, reference 5074 can be considered one of the most striking stylistic exercises by Patek Philippe. It seamlessly blends the design heritage of vintage horology with more modern solutions. The final result is nothing short of breath-taking. Purchased by the present owner at the prestigious Tiffany & Co. salon in New York, the present watch is absolutely unspoiled in all of its parts, allowing the case design and enthralling black and gold dial to be fully appreciated in all their glory.
The reference 5074 is one of the most technologically complex, aesthetically appealing and hard-to-find modern Patek Philippe references. It was originally launched in yellow gold from 2001 to 2006. In 2005, the watch was offered for the first time in pink gold and available with a silvered dial or the rare black dial, as seen on the present watch.
Believed to have been made in less than 50 pieces in pink gold, the black dial variant is thought to be the rarest of the two dial colour options. Although now unavailable from Patek Philippe, the last known retail price for the pink gold version is 542,000 Swiss Francs in 2014.
The return to market ratio for the reference 5074 is extremely small, indicating how deeply collectors are attached to this model. So far, only 5 examples in pink gold came back to the secondary market.
Vintage wonders by Patek Philippe
Lot 119 – Patek Philippe reference 3448
This real treasure of reference 3448 is probably one of only three examples known publicly that are double signed for Patek Philippe’s distinguished Italian retailer, Hausmann & Co. in Rome. Official representative of all the greatest watch manufacturers in the world, the company was founded in Rome in 1794 by Ernst Hausmann and Hermann Frielingsdorf.
In the rarefied world of complicated vintage Patek Philippe masterpieces, the reference 3448 is one of the most sought after of all. Its minimal good looks and large size is perfectly suited for today’s most discerning collectors. Only 586 examples of the 3448 were ever made, of these, only three, including this watch, are known to have been double-signed for the highly prestigious Rome retailer Hausmann & Co.
The present watch is thus one of the most individual and exclusive specimens of the great classic reference 3448 to be offered at auction.
Entirely fresh to the market and still retaining a Patek Philippe service sticker on the back, it is a wonderfully honest example featuring an incredibly attractive and well preserved rich ‘velvety’ silvered dial with hard enamelled signature and date numerals that are beautifully raised, the ‘pearl’ minute divisions perfectly complementing the gold baton hour markers.
The silky finish is a feature of the very best dials made by Stern Frères, called ‘satiné opalin’. Exactly correct for the year 1970, the present dial would be one of the last of the engraved hard enamelled dials to be used on the reference. The dials changed to printed signature and calendar numerals from 1971.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
The Christie’s Geneva Rare Watches sale on 9 May 2022 will be a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak.
To mark the occasion, Christie’s Geneva will present a curation of these legends in their own time, among which the highly coveted and stunning platinum ‘Jumbo’ Extra-Thin Ref. 15202PT, presented for the first time at auction, the stainless-steel A-Series No.1’741 as well as the ‘Golden’ Tropical Mark 1 diamond index dial Ref. 5402BC, as detailed below.
Lot 151 – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ Extra-Thin Ref. 15202PT
The highly coveted and stunning platinum Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ Extra-Thin with smoked green sunburst dial (reference 15202PT) is appearing for the first time at auction.
Since the Royal Oak’s launch in 1972, few models of the range have been made in platinum. In 2021, Audemars Piguet introduced this very special version in solid platinum, reference 15202PT – the first Platinum Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ with a green sunburst dial. Reserved for AP Houses only, it is made in such extremely small numbers and so ultra-exclusive that demand has, unsurprisingly, vastly exceeded supply.
The Reference 15202 is one of the most popular because it is the closest modern descendant of the original Royal Oak. In an interesting twist for the 15202PT, Audemars Piguet designed the dial without the classic ‘petite tapisserie’ textured pattern but instead with a smooth surface. The green colour is named ‘smoked green’ by Audemars Piguet and is on a sunray pattern base which gives a shimmering graduated tonal effect as light plays across the surface.
Lot 147 – Audemars Piguet Stainless Steel Royal Oak A-Series No.1’741
This is one of the most iconic sport watches ever created, bestowed with a well-preserved dial as well as a stainless-steel case of strong proportions.
An iconic model of the Audemars Piguet Manufacture, the Royal Oak “A-series” can be considered as part of the most collectible luxury sport timepieces. Designed by the celebrated Gérald Genta, and later qualified the masterpiece of his career, the Royal Oak secured a discerning and informed audience and became throughout the years the emblem of the Manufacture.
The present watch is part of the first 2000 “A-series” Royal Oaks ever created, with the serial number “A 1741”, the 1’741th piece to be made. It has an original “A-series” dial, with the AP logo above the 6 o’clock index, and reads “Swiss” below 6 o’clock.
This first series was numbered from A 0001 to A 2000. Indeed, after having sold out the first 1’000 pieces, the eventual success of this model was such that Audemars Piguet took the decision to increase the production to 2’000 pieces. After the “A-series” sold out, they progressed on to the “B” series, “C” series, and so on.
Lot 149 – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ‘Golden’ Tropical Mark 1 diamond index dial Ref. 5402BC
Fresh to the market, it is hard to imagine a Royal Oak of more conspicuous rarity. To the best of our knowledge, the present watch is the only example of a white gold reference 5402 with diamond dial that is so fully and evenly tropicalized.
The dial is quite sensational and of unparalleled beauty, having tropicalized from the original black to a shimmering golden bronze colour fading to leave an even darker outer edge. Adding a further degree of desirability, the dial type is the seldom- seen ‘Mark 1’ that was in use before 1980 on which the round diamonds are set in circular white gold settings. From around 1980 onwards, the round diamonds are set in square-shaped settings.
Originally designed and produced only in steel, in 1977 Audemars Piguet decided to launch a limited number of their then already landmark Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ ref. 5402 in white gold. Christened with the reference 5402BC, it rarely appears at auction. This reference 5402BC with tropicalized dial is no. 29 of only 150 believed to have been manufactured, rendering it one of the rarest variants of the Royal Oak model in its own right.
Crafted from solid 18K gold, its weight is impressive when compared to the regular Royal Oak production stainless steel versions. Measuring 39 mm. in diameter, the model carries the sought-after mini ‘tapisserie’ patterned dial, a texture found on all early Royal Oak dials.
Collectors have long been discovering and researching the rarities from the last 50 years of production of the Royal Oak. Scarce early examples and those with tropical dials have captured the serious attention of watch enthusiasts. This watch presents a one-off opportunity for Royal Oak collectors to obtain one of the most alluring and distinctly unique examples of this much coveted white gold Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ with original diamond-set dial.
Lot 122 – Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Ref. 1526 – Eric Clapton CBE
During the 1990s and early 2000s, Eric Clapton CBE, the English rock and blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and one of the most important and influential guitarists of all time, assembled one of the most impressive and important collections of wristwatches anywhere in the world. The collection included many of the great classic models of Patek Philippe and some unique examples among them.
The present reference 1526 perpetual calendar is one such legendary timepiece. Not seen in public for almost 20 years, the present Patek Philippe was bought at the auction of Eric Clapton’s important watches at Christie’s New York and is being today by a private European collector.
Lot 133 – Cartier London ‘Crash’ 1990
Consigned by a private owner, Christie’s is delighted to be able to offer this wonderful example of what is regarded as the most attractive and sought-after versions of this undoubted design icon.
The present watch, with its large cursive script signature ‘Cartier London’ on the untouched painted dial, crisp heavy gold case and matching gold ‘Crash’ folding clasp both with full Cartier London signature and hallmarks for 1990, is a sublime specimen that could hardly be improved upon.
Cartier’s ‘Crash’ watch is overwhelmingly an object of desire, once seen it can never be forgotten. The ‘Crash’ watch instils in its beholder an almost magnetic fascination that is borne from all truly great design and craftsmanship, its fluid free-form shape and specially designed dial is unique among wristwatches. The ‘Crash’ watch is an exemplar of what can only be described as “the genius of Cartier”.
Lot 40 – The Breguet No.2424
This is a superb and stunning example of one of Breguet’s incredibly rare steel-cased triple calendar chronograph wristwatches. To date, probably less than 10 examples are known publicly. Consigned by its private owner, it is one of the most attractive and original of the known examples.
The dial, with blue tachymeter scale and applied gold indexes is extremely beautiful, gently mellowing over the years to an even light champagne colour. The layout of the dial and the solid case proportions of this fine chronograph echo the greatest watch designs of all times, notably Rolex’s’ Dato Compax’ and Patek Philippe’s references 1518 and 2499.
Comparing it to its peers, it is inevitable though to immediately spot the more playful design of the dial, most notably the outer blue date ring. It is also noteworthy to underline that these exclusivities were made in much smaller quantities than their counterparts from Geneva.
In fact, it is interesting that the few known examples of the Breguet triple calendar moon phase watch in steel were generally made and sold several years apart from each other, spanning the 1950s, 60s and 70s. This strongly suggests that they were made only upon request and never in any quantity.
Now extremely sought after and coveted by collectors, these triple calendar moon phase chronographs by the celebrated house of Breguet are a connoisseur’s choice and a significant prize for the collector of vintage steel complicated wristwatches.