Bonhams to host Spring Watch Auction on June 12

This sale features fine enamel pocket watches, gorgeous boudoir clocks, the personal watches of Houdini and Damon Runyon, and many fine examples of modern luxury wristwatches ranging from Patek Philipe to Rolex to Audemars Piguet. With such diversity, rarity and quality, the Bonhams spring watch auction will certainly be a highlight for watch collectors of all interests.

Patek Philippe. A fine and rare 18K gold chronograph wristwatch with perpetual calendar and moon phasesRef:2499 / 100, Case no. 2779166, Movement no. 869405, sold 1980

This auction showcases a variety of highly decorative watches and clocks spanning several centuries of watch production. The Bonhams watch department is particularly pleased to offer several fine examples of 18th and 19th century Swiss enamel pocket watches. Prior to Geneva’s development as the center of watch making, it was a city known for its intricate enamel work. These two skills merged later in the 18th century to produce enamel pocket watches of exceptional detail and craftsmanship, such as the flower shaped enamel verge watch (pre-sale est. $40,000-60,000), signed by Breguet. Another fine example of Swiss craftsmanship is a fine gold center seconds cylinder watch (pre-sale est. $60,000-70,000) made by Bovet for the Chinese market during the first quarter of the 19th century.

The Swiss truly mastered the art of watch making through automaton construction, and it is with great pleasure that Bonhams offers an exquisite and important example of Swiss watch construction with the automaton watch of Cooper’s Yard (pre-sale est. $70,000-90,000). When wound, the automaton shows artisans busily making barrels in a Swiss forest – this charming scene seems to celebrate the hard work and intricate craftsmanship that led to the watch’s very construction in the first place. Also on offer are more modern decorative timekeeping items, including some beautiful Art Deco pieces by Cartier, a highlight among them being a rare 18 carat gold gem-set triptych boudoir clock (pre-sale est. $15,000-20,000), circa 1928.

Certain to appeal to all watch collectors with an interest in the history of watches’ technological innovations, is a fine free sprung keyless lever watch (pre-sale est. $5,000-7,000) constructed in 1928 by Hermann Thunig for the Deutsche Uhrmacherschule (German Watchmaker’s School) in Glashütte. Another highlight is Harry Houdini’s 18 carat inscribed yellow gold pocket watch (pre-sale est. $10,000-15,000). Passed down from Houdini’s relatives to Bonhams, this handsome pocket watch’s unique history will certainly have magical appeal at auction. Celebrated New York-based writer, Damon Runyon’s curved tank wristwatch by Cartier (pre-sale est. $18,000-22,000) is an example of Cartier’s classic Art Deco style. Inscribed with the author’s signature, this watch brings to mind Runyon’s classic prohibition era work that inspired the classic Broadway musical, Guys and Dolls.

Also on offer are several fine examples of modern luxury wristwatches. Highlighting the group is an extremely desirable Patek Philipe 2499 yellow gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch (pre-sale est. $350,000-400,000) complete with box, setting pin and instruction books. Another highlight for modern wristwatch enthusiasts is a handsome Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Platinum Juan Pablo Montoya chronograph wristwatch (pre-sale est. $80,000-120,000). Finally, Bonhams will offer a very fine group of mint condition watches from a distinguished collector, mostly ranging from $5,000-25,000. This collection features examples from the following top brands: Rolex, Breguet, Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Richard Mille, Urwerk, Patek Philipe and Vacheron & Constantin.

Other highlights include: a striking Tiffany gold, pearl and emerald pocket watch designed by Paulding Farnham for display at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, from the late 19th century (pre-sale est. $25,000-35,000); a rare 1930s lipstick watch by Cartier (pre-sale est. $4,000-6,000); an exquisite early 18th century enamel pocket watch, depicting the Holy Family by P. Dutens (pre-sale est. $35,000-45,000); and an Audemars Piguet yellow gold Juan Pablo Montoya chronograph (pre-sale est. $65,000-75,000).