Watches - 2nd page
See also : Time pieces Mechanical craft ca 1800 Jaquet-Droz and followers Modern watches New watches Inventions Clocks French time pieces English time pieces Revolution and Empire
Chronology : 1650-1659 1800-1809 1810-1819 1918 1983
ca 1650 Three Virtues in a Watch
2019 SOLD for £ 2.17M including premium
Jean Toutin applied his method to watches that were appreciated at the court of Louis XIII but also in England. No piece created by him has survived but his technique had a few followers and is known as Blois-style enamel work.
Six pocket watches have survived with a turquoise blue decoration made around 1650 in the style of Blois. A certain similarity may suggest that this camaieu was made by a single artist but the dials are signed by six different watchmakers, three in London, two in Paris and one in Bordeaux.
The watch signed by a man named Jehan Cremsdorff in Paris uses several enamel techniques. The exterior of its cover and back is decorated in enamel on chased gold, with a champlevé relief flower pattern on a turquoise background. One of these sides is cloisonné. The inner walls of both the cover and the back and the dial are decorated in the Blois-style blue. These three figures are reproductions of allegories of Virtues edited as engravings by Abraham Bosse around 1636. It is also inlaid with diamonds.
This Cremsdorff specimen is a 6 cm diameter verge escapement watch, 7.6 cm in height including the pendant. It has a single hand which is normal for its time : the minute hand will be available on watches from 1687.
It was sold for CHF 1.8M by Christie's on May 13, 1986, a very high price for a pocket watch at that time (for information, 1 CHF was worth between 0.48 and 0.62 USD in 1986). It is estimated £ 700K for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 3, lot 4.
#AuctionUpdate: Landmark price for a 17th century watch: Jehan Cremsdorff’s extraordinary gold, enamel and diamond-set verge watch, circa 1650 - an early masterpiece of enamel work - just fetched $2.7m in our London Treasures sale #SothebysWatches pic.twitter.com/I2S0lH04VI— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) July 3, 2019
1800 Breguet at the Time of the Marie-Antoinette
2016 SOLD for CHF 3.25M including premium
This enthusiast who played for Breguet a similar role as Graves with Patek Philippe 150 years later was probably the Count Fersen known as a fervent admirer of the Queen of France and the watch was named the Marie-Antoinette. It was completed in 1827, four years after the death of Abraham-Louis Breguet.
Breguet was the most skilful watchmaker of his time and the Marie-Antoinette could be used as a kind of prototype. On May 16 in Geneva, Christie's offers a high complication watch sold new in 1800 of our calendar (An VIII of the Republican calendar) to General Moreau. It is estimated CHF 600K, lot 123.
This pocket watch 55 mm in diameter has the serial number No. 217 of the brand. It is the only example beside the Marie-Antoinette to offer in the same case the perpetual motion and the equation of time.
The perpétuelle is a self winding mechanism with an oscillating weight offering 60 hours of autonomy from the effect of moderate movements of the user, with a protection against shocks on horseback. The equation of time is a correction of the difference between standard and solar times which can reach up to 16 minutes.
This piece does not include the technique of the tourbillon invented by Breguet in 1801. The steadiness is ensured by the échappement libre à ancre (lever escapement), another difficulty that only Breguet knew to overcome.
General Moreau died in the battle of Dresden in 1813. Breguet reacquired the 217 and modernized the dial before selling it in 1817 to Charles-Louis Havas, the financier who became famous for opening in Paris in 1832 the first ever newspaper translation business which became in 1835 his Havas Agency.
1805 Amphora Automaton watch attributed to Piguet et Capt
2002 SOLD for CHF 4M (worth at that time US $ 2.4M) including premium by Antiquorum
1814 Breguet, the Physicist of Time
2012 SOLD 4.3 MCHF including premium
The eighteenth century had highly important mechanics. Abraham-Louis Breguet, micro-mechanical genius, settled into pocket watches the most extraordinary complications of the clocks, and was the inventor of basic concepts such as the tourbillon and the wristwatch.
On May 14 in Geneva, Christie's sells two Breguet watches, each estimated CHF 800K. Both have two main dials, but for quite different reasons.
The earliest, sold in 1814, has two similar and symmetrical complete mechanisms. The idea of the inventor was to compensate the mechanical resonance, a source of error that was a challenge for the watchmakers. This is the first of three watches made by Breguet on this principle. The other two will be provided to the kings of England and France. Here is the link to the catalog.
The complication of the other is even more spectacular. One mechanism provides the official time calculated according to a regular day of 24 hours, and the other mechanism provides real solar time as it was read from sundials at the ground. The motion drift of earth and sun can reach a quarter of an hour, almost repetitively from year to year.
This specimen with the equation of time, sold in 1827, is posthumous. Antoine-Louis Breguet had succeeded his father. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
Forget the estimates. The press release was convincing, and the two Breguet watches are masterpieces from one of the most brilliant periods of watchmaking.
Technically very bold, the watch with two movements from 1814 was sold CHF 4.3 million including premium.
The watch with the equation of time was sold CHF 2.55 million including premium.
1910-1915 The Watch and Sandals of Mahatma Gandhi
2009 SOLD 2.1 M$ including premium
In my auction previews last year, I had seen and ignored a wrist watch of Longines brand. I was wrong: it was sold 600 K $ including expenses, more than 20 times its estimate, by Antiquorum in New York on October 16 and was one of the most spectacular results of the quarter. It was Albert Einstein's personal watch.
It is clear that this price is due to the personality of its owner, who revolutionized the idea that cosmographers had concerning time.
Perhaps, too, is this the beginning of a dramatic growth in the market for watches of celebrities?
The same auction house has collected for its next sale in New York on March 4 and 5 a lot of artefacts of Gandhi, including his sandals, his glasses, a bowl, a plate ... and of course his watch, otherwise there would be no reason to find this set at Antiquorum, the international auction group which is the leader of this specialty.
This silver pocket watch of Zenith brand was manufactured circa 1910-1915. Gandhi later gave it to his grand-niece, who was also his assistant.
POST SALE DISCUSSION
$ 1.8 million before fees ($ 2.1 million charge included), this is not the price of a watch. This is the price of a very rare set of memories of Gandhi. The press in India, which became entranced by the appearance of that lot on the market, said that Gandhi was not interested in material goods and his personal effects are very rare.
The fact that this is an auction house specializing in watches which had conducted the auction to an end will remain as a curiosity in the history of sales.
The information before the sale stating that it would be cancelled was the fact of Indian groups in direct negotiation with the seller. These negotiations did not succeed. This possibility of cancellation has been continuously denied by the auction house, but a seller always has the possibility to remove an item before the sale, even after the issuance of the catalog.
Kennedy's watch was sold $ 100 K before fees from a low estimate of 150 K $. Its relationship with the U.S. president was less intimate than the artefacts of Gandhi.
1918 Watch Rivalries
2011 SOLD 1.76 M$ including premium
Inventor, industrialist, founder and owner of the car brand that bore his name, James Ward Packard had a hobby. Amateur of complication watches, he specified unprecedented combinations for his personal use.
Two pocket watches from his collection are on sale on June 15 at Christie's in New York. Each piece is a unique model. Made in the same year, 1918, they enable comparing technical performances of the two Swiss brands to whom Packard had provided his requirements. Kept in a bank, they are in perfect condition.
The advantage is on Vacheron Constantin, if one relies on the estimate, $ 250K. This chronograph clockwatch delivered in 1919 represented a technical breakthrough for the time.
Delivered in 1920, the Patek Philippe minute repeating watch is estimated $ 200K.
Both pieces are illustrated in the article shared by Bloomberg.
The Swiss rivalry quickly turned to the advantage of Patek Philippe. In the early 1920s, the banker Henry Graves Jr. began lining up to get the most complicated watch in the world, and Patek Philippe was the referee and the prime contractor of the rivalry between the two clients.
After the death of Packard (1928), Graves continued. His supercomplication watch, delivered in 1933 after five years of development studies by Patek Philippe, was sold for $ 11M including premium by Sotheby's on December 2, 1999.
POST SALE COMMENT
These two watches were worth much more than the estimate which had been announced, of course. The Vacheron Constantin, really exceptional, was sold for $ 1.76 million including premium. The Patek Philippe was sold for $ 987K including premium.
1982 The Equation of the Astronauts
2019 SOLD for £ 3.6M including premium
The equation of time is the difference between the apparent time, which can also be read on a sundial, and the sidereal time which takes its reference in the position of the fixed stars. This difference is an annual cycle due to the obliquity of the Earth and the ellipticity of its orbit.
The first pocket watch in which Daniels included the equation of time is his ninth opus, Elsom II, in 1975.
George Daniels was known for his wit. In 1979 he states that the accuracy of measurement obtained by Margetts, 1.8 seconds per year, is not sufficient for the control of time by an astronaut on his way to Mars. An astronomer from Cambridge University calculates for him a ratio between the two escapement wheels that will reduce the variance to 0.4 seconds per year.
The first pocket watch incorporating these new data is George Daniels' fifteenth opus, the Space Traveller, which also offers the annual calendar and the phases of the Moon. In 1982, shortly after finishing his Space Traveller, Daniels sold it to a collector, probably to meet a prior commitment.
Frustrated that he had parted away from his Space Traveller I, Daniels realized in 1983 the Space Traveller II, on which he added a chronograph and a thermometer. He did not let go this specimen that allowed him to behave like an astronaut in the salons. His fourth and last pocket watch to include the equation of time is the Grand Complication, in 1987.
The Space Traveller I is estimated £ 700K for sale by Sotheby's in London on July 2, lot 143. Space Traveller II was sold for £ 3.2M including premium by Sotheby's on September 19, 2017. Grand Complication was sold for CHF 2.4M including premium by Phillips on May 11, 2019.
1982-1983 George Daniels as a Sidereal Traveller
2017 SOLD for £ 3.2M including premium
Fascinated by watches, George Daniels chose to devote his professional life to them. A repair craftsman of great skill, he became a specialist of Breguet and then made his own watches with an increasing complexity.
In the era of quartz watches, Daniels managed to demonstrate that mechanical watches could still be fully competitive. His invention of the co-axial escapement which suppresses the need for a lubricant is one of the most important advances in watchmaking since Breguet.
In a career that began in 1970, Daniels has completed 37 watches made entirely in his workshop from elementary components to final assembly. Sotheby's devoted an exhibition to them in London in 2006.
Daniels was a lover of great mechanics. The remarkable Bentley Blower racing car sold for £ 5M including premium by Bonhams on 29 June 2012 came from his deceased estate.
I am listing below four watches from his personal work. These 2012 results include the premium.
Made circa 1982, the Space Travellers' watch including a double-wheel escapement was sold for £ 1.33M.
Made around 1987 the Grand Complication watch is a very good example of Daniels' co-axial escapement. It was sold for £ 915K.
As its name suggests, the First wristwatch made circa 1991 is a rare example of a wristwatch incorporating the co-axial escapement. It was sold for £ 385K. A more recent watch made in 1994 was sold for £ 660K over an estimate of £ 300K.
The Space Travellers' watch comes back to Sotheby's in London on September 19, lot 121 estimated £ 1.2M. It is a great opportunity to revisit its remarkable complication. Made in 1982 the only other example is simpler, without a chronograph function : the 2012 catalogue reminded that it was sold for CHF 220K by Sotheby's on November 17, 1988.
Based on a different denting of the two wheels Daniels had been able to realize a watch compensating at the will of the user the difference of 3.555 minutes per day between solar and sidereal times. Well aware that it was a sensational horological feat Dr Daniels exhibited it sometimes at events as a dress watch, stating that it was the suitable instrument to control the time in a long telephone conversation during a trip to Mars.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's before the 2012 sale.
from 1983 A Collection of 4370 Swatch watches
2011 SOLD for HK$ 51M including premium by Phillips
from 1983 The Swatch Brand
2015 SOLD for HK$ 47M including premium
The idea of the founders was to reduce as much as possible the number of components in order to minimize the production costs. The technical challenge was to maintain in these conditions the accuracy of the instrument while ensuring an acceptable operating duration.
The marketing has been very innovative, promoting fun illustrations and even unprecedented uses. The user can pin his Swatch watch on his jacket or tie with it her ponytail. In 1985, some limited editions are illustrated by artists. Swatch collaborated with Kiki Picasso and Keith Haring, without neglecting the popular themes such as movies and sports competitions.
On November 24, 2011, Phillips sold the Blum collection as a single lot for HK $ 51M including premium. Composed of a total of 4370 pieces, this set included 795 prototypes, some of them predating the 1983 original release.
On April 7 in Hong Kong, Sotheby's sells the Dunkel collection, lot 2189. This superlot consists of 5800 pieces including 45 prototypes, mainly from 1983 to 2008. Here is the link to the press release.
1987 The Complications of George Daniels
2019 SOLD for CHF 2.4M including premium
His watches were entirely hand made by himself. His understanding of mechanics was such that he made very few preliminary drawings for developing a new complication. In addition to the clocks and to a commercial series of 58 watches in 1999, he built during his career 23 pocket watches and 4 wristwatches.
His effectiveness was outstanding. The watches equipped with his coaxial escapement are reaching an accuracy below 1 second per month, better than any quartz watch in his time.
Built in 1987, the Grand Complication appears as the ultimate achievement of George Daniels' pocket watches, before he entered a miniaturization phase for creating wristwatches.
Daniels worked with his intuition under no other influence than Breguet. The Grand Complication includes mechanisms entirely invented by him for the annual calendar and for the repeating of minutes. Built on a one-minute coaxial escapement tourbillon, it also offers the moon phases, the power reserve indicator, the equation of time and even a bimetallic thermometer, all of that in a 62 mm diameter case. The dial is highly readable.
Daniels died in 2011. In the auction of his collection by Sotheby's on November 6, 2012, the highest price rewarded the Space Travellers watch, sold for £ 1.33M including premium over a lower estimate of £ 400K. In the same auction room on September 19, 2017, it reached £ 3.2M including premium.
In the 2012 sale the Grand Complication was estimated £ 500K, thus being announced as the most important of Daniels' prototype watches. It had been sold for £ 915K including premium, lot 10. It is now on sale by Phillips in Geneva on May 11, lot 34.
The Grand Complication is shown in operation in a short video inserted in an article prepared by the auction house, illustrated with many photos. The image below is shared by Wikimedia with attribution to Andrewrabbott [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
2018 Sympathique with the Rubidium
2019 SOLD for $ 2.9M including premium
One of Breguet's most avant-garde designs was the Breguet Sympathique, a pocket watch that did not need to be touched for winding, time setting and regulation. When its power reserve approached depletion, it was inserted into a clock to which it was mechanically coupled. The word Sympathique is an evocation of the coupling, by its etymology meaning 'functioning by affinity'.
Obtaining the three settings simultaneously was a mechanical feat that was achieved by his workshop for the duc d'Orléans in 1835, twelve years after Breguet's death. Restarted to working condition by Daniels in the 1970s, the complete system was sold for $ 6.8M including premium by Sotheby's on December 4, 2012.
The Urwerk AMC (Atomic Mechanical Control) system unveiled in 2018 at Baselworld Miami is an adaptation of the Sympathique to the modern technologies. Without a direct application identified, this technical feat paves the way for new developments.
The time reference is provided by a 45 x 30 x 18 cm atomic clock weighing 35 Kg. It uses the quantum energy transitions of the rubidium atom, known by physicists to provide the best stability with a 1 second error for 317 years when it is associated with a garnet of yttrium and iron. It provides the stability of a wristwatch by coupling, without manual winding, without quartz, without battery.
Urwerk announced the production of the system in three units. A price of $ 2.7M was announced in period on the web by a specialized website. The titanium mechanical watch with the serial number 001 associated with its atomic clock is estimated to exceed $ 1M for sale by Phillips in New York on December 10, lot 8.