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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

Antiquorum presented some of the top lots from its upcoming auction on 4-5 November at a preview during Geneva Watch Days. 

UPDATE – 6 November: Antiquorum wraps up its two-day Geneva auction, showcasing an impressive 588 lots, with 86 % of lot sold that collectively fetched a substantial over CHF 9 million, inclusive of the buyer’s premium.

Lot 581: Patek Philippe, Ref. 3448, sold: CHF 525,000

Lot: 457 Patek Philippe jewellery watch, sold: CHF 50,000

Lot 359: Ring watch attributed to Piguet & Capt., sold: CHF 60,000

The previews of the Autumn auction season coincides with the Geneva Watch Days. Leading up to their sale between 4-5 November, 2023, Antiquorum exhibited some of the world’s finest collectors’ watches in their showroom. The highly anticipated auction will be held in the Hotel Beau Rivage in Geneva.

Lot 581: Patek Philippe Ref. 3448

Estimation: CHF 350,000 – 550,000

Originally invented by English watchmaker Thomas Mudge in 1762, perpetual calendars represents one of the most challenging technical structures in watchmaking. Created to its characteristic high quality, Patek Philippe perpetual calendars have always been sought after at every important watch auctions for a very long time.

Patek Philippe was the first to create a perpetual calendar as a wristwatch in 1925 and in 1941 the manufacture started two separate lines. The ref. 1526 was the world’s first perpetual calendar produced in a series, while the 1518 is the earliest Patek Philippe perpetual calendar with chronograph to have been serially produced (we saw an amazing example in steel here a few years ago). 

As another first, Patek Philippe’s first serially produced self-winding perpetual calendar wristwatch the reference 3448 was born in 1962. This series began with the serial number 1119000. Produced in 586 examples until 1982 with the caliber 27-460 Q, the majority of the watches were yellow gold. The pink gold or white metal were even rarer. Approximately 130 white gold pieces were made and about 50 of them appeared at auctions. 

The present lot is from 1976, cased in white gold, 37.5mm in diameter. Due to the case size considered big then and the sharp lungs, Italian collectors named the reference ‘Padellone’ aka frying pan. 

This example has never been offered at auction before and has been maintained in very good condition featuring a strong and clear punchmark on the outer case as well as its original dial.

It has a very nice, clean and balanced dial. The day and the month are displayed in small apertures right under the 12 o’clock marker. The date is at 6 o’clock with a cut-out for the moon phase display. Depending on the four series the watch was made, the dials are slightly different. This series has silvered dial with vertical satin finish, applied white gold hour markers and painted minute circle.

Patek Philippe Ref. 3448
Patek Philippe Ref. 3448

Lot 457: Patek Philippe jewellery watch

Estimation : CHF 40,000 – 60,000

At the spring preview of Antiquorum, I had the chance to try on a very special IWC bracelet watch. In this selection, I saw an equally interesting Patel Philippe model from the same era (around 1977), but in a very different style. Ref. 4016/1 is a delicate gem-set jewellery timepiece in gold. According to the extract from the archive, it is decorated by 7.09 ct diamonds in total and blue sapphires. The piece has a hidden watch face. The spring-loaded cover can be pulled back by the wearer to subtly check the time.

Lot 359: Ring watch attributed to Piguet & Capt.

Estimation : CHF 50,000 – 100,000

‘The girl on a swing’ ring watch from ca. 1810 is also a true watchmaking ‘delicacy’. Ring watches are not typical to find nowadays, especially automaton ring watches. These technically advanced automaton jewels were in vogue between the late 18th and the mid-19th centuries. 

In 2001, Antiquorum auctioned the “Sandberg Watch Collection”, a unique private collection of 433 timepieces, built up in over 25 years by Lord Sandberg former Chairman of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. This collection included also musical watches with automaton scenes and an other example of a ring automaton watch, sold for for 234,500 CHF. About 20 years later a rectangular automaton ring watch with canted corners and diamond set bezel realised 750,000 HKD at the Christie’s Hong Kong auction. 

The present lot is a 18k gold oval ring watch, set with little pearls framing a painted enamel dial. It has a round, white enamel off-centered dial with blue-steel Breguet hands for the hours and and minutes. While the watch is small (length 38 mm, width 24 mm), the automated scene is rather complex – it depicts a couple. She is on a swing, he is standing and pushing the swing and a dolphin fountain stands in the background. 

The ring watch houses a tiny brass caliber with fixed barrel and cylinder escapement. The automaton is driven by an independent five-wheel train and activated by a small lever on the side.

The tiny creation is attributed to Piguet & Capt the renowned watchmakers and goldsmiths Isaac Daniel Piguet (1775-1841) and Henry Capt (1773-1841). They worked in partnership between 1802-1811 and specialised in musical and automaton watches, fine musical pieces with automata and special snuff boxes with musical automaton. 

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