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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bonhams New York Fine Watches, Wristwatches And Clocks Auction

Bonhams is pleased to announce its Fine Watches, Wristwatches and Clocks auction taking place December 8 in New York, simulcast to San Francisco.

Jonathan Snellenburg, Bonhams US Director of Watches and Clocks, states about the sale, “The watches and clocks in this sale span three centuries—from the earliest pendulum clock of the 1660s to fine and modern complicated wristwatches. The sale’s many highlights are a tour of timekeeping history.”

Patek Philippe. A fine and very rare platinum cushion-form perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with registers and moon phases and a spare diamond-set black dial Ref.5020P, movement no. 3046055, circa 1996

Among the many highlights in the auction, there is an important group of 25 complicated modern mechanical wristwatches in impeccable condition from a discerning collector. The most remarkable among the group are four wristwatches that incorporate a “tourbillon” carriage. First designed in the 18th century, the “tourbillon,” or “whirlwind,” remains to this day the most sophisticated precision time keeping device ever constructed. Patented in 1801 by the inventive French watchmaker Abraham–Louis Breguet, the tourbillon eliminates timekeeping errors that are caused by movement.

However, throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the tourbillon proved so difficult and time consuming to make, it was placed in only a handful of expensive watches, making them today the most prized possessions of any collection.

Due to a recent re-emergence of the mechanical watch as a work of art, modern watchmakers re-introduced the tourbillon. One of the two of the modern tourbillon watches in the sale is a 200th anniversary commemorative watch made by the modern Breguet firm in 2001(est. $70,000-80,000). Also included is a Girard Perregaux tourbillon built to their proprietary “three bridge” design that was introduced more than 125 years ago (est. $60,000-80,000).

Complicated sports wristwatches are represented in the sale by two iconic “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona chronographs from the 1970s, one in gold and one in steel, each property from the original owner (est. $40,000-$45,000 and $80,000-120,000, respectively). Other examples include vintage Heuer, Omega, Blancpain and Breitling chronographs, as well as a single owner collection of modern chronographs, all with their original boxes and paperwork.

The cover lot for the sale is a very rare Patek Philippe Ref 5020 platinum perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with a tonneau shaped case that earned it the nickname “TV watch.” Made in 1998, it is offered with an additional diamond-set black dial. In addition, the watch is accompanied by its factory service record and has been re-sealed in a plastic sleeve by Patek Philippe (est. $280,000-$320,000).

Another highlight is a large gold 1865 presentation pocket watch that has an engraved image of the infamous Washington Market in New York City. During the 19th century it was located where Ground Zero is today and was the main source of food for Manhattan and surrounding areas. The watch honors a prominent member of the “Washington Market Social Club” (est. $3,500-4,500), an organization of grocers who modernized the market.

Of special interest to clock collectors, is one of the earliest surviving precision clocks, a Louis XIV pendule religieuse signed François Desbans à Amiens, circa 1669 (est. $5,000–8,000). Despite its modest estimate, it is in fact a very well preserved example of Christiaan Huygens’ revolutionary pendulum clock of 1658, made only a decade after the original. It was the first practical clock to actually “keep time” and it was the first clock to have a minute hand. All subsequent clocks and watches are descendants of this simple clock.

Other highlights include: a Pierre Margotin important Louis gilt mounted Boulle marquetry quarter striking pendule religieuse, circa 1700 (est. $10,000-15,000); a very rare Aaron Dodd Crane torsion pendulum year going shelf clock, circa 1846 (est. $4,000-6,000); and a selection of elegant jeweled lady’s bracelet watches from Cartier and Patek Philippe.

The entire auction will be on preview at Bonhams in New York from December 3-7. Highlights can be viewed in San Francisco, November 18–20 and in Hong Kong, November 25–27. The auction will take place in New York at 1 pm EST on December 8 and will be simulcast at Bonhams in San Francisco.

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