Watches - 2nd page
See also : Mechanical craft ca 1800 Modern watches New watches Inventions Clocks French time pieces English time pieces Revolution and Empire
Chronology : 1800-1809 1810-1819 1987
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.
1814 Complication Watch by Breguet
2012 SOLD for CHF 4.3M by Christie's
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, 2012, Christie's sold a Breguet watch for CHF 4.3M from a lower estimate of CHF 800K, lot 230.
This complication piece sold in 1814 has two main dials. It integrates 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 has been provided to the kings of England and France.
1827 Equation of Time by Breguet
2012 SOLD for CHF 2.55M by Christie's
This specimen with the equation of time, sold in 1827, is posthumous. Antoine-Louis Breguet had succeeded his father Abraham-Louis.
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.
1831 Breguet Watch
April 9, 2008 SOLD for € 2.8M before fees by Bailly-Pommery et Voutier
1929 Vacheron Constantin for King Fuad
2005 SOLD for CHF 3.3M including premium, worth at that time US$ 2.77M, by Antiquorum
The motivations of these two clients were different. Since 1905 James Ward Packard, the automaker, had been preparing for his pleasure the specifications at the limit of feasibility on which Patek Philippe made unique pieces.
Vacheron Constantin's client was the Maharajah of Patiala, one of the richest men in the world, lover of the most extravagant luxury in terms of jewelry, cars and harem. His pocket watches testify to the increasing sophistication of the brand's high-end. The first, in 1909, incorporated the calendar, the phases of the Moon, the chronograph and an alarm.
In 1918 Packard transmitted one of his specifications to Vacheron Constantin. This watch with grande and petite sonneries was sold for $ 1.76M including premium by Christie's on June 15, 2011.
The Boisrouvray specimen, completed in 1928, has eleven complications, including among others the minute repeater on three gongs, the perpetual leap calendar and the split seconds. It is also a high precision watch using the Guillaume balance. It was sold for CHF 1.1M including premium by Antiquorum on October 11, 2003, lot 134.
The other exceptional Vacheron Constantin watch from that period, completed in 1929, features thirteen complications but does not have the Guillaume balance. It was presented to King Fuad by the Swiss community in Egypt. It was sold by Antiquorum on April 3, 2005 for CHF 3.3M including premium, then worth US $ 2.77M, lot 182.
At that time Patek Philippe was designing the 24-complication watch commissioned by Henry Graves.
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.