In this week’s What’s Selling Where, we are bringing you some great watches coming up for sale at Antiquorum on March 15th in Geneva (full catalog here and virtual catalog here) as well as tons of other great watches available on eBay and through dealers.
As a general reminder for our American readers (and everyone else, too), buying a watch outside of your country can be complex. There are restrictions on the import of Rolex watches and importing watches with exotic straps, such as alligator and crocodile, can also raise flags with government customs agencies. That is why so many fly to collect watches in person. Just do your homework and be careful.
Patek Philippe reference 2526 (Lot 141)
We have spoken a lot about the 2526 on this site, but this is a very early one with what appears to be a very sharp case. It is just a stunning watch and the enamel dial looks great in the photo, although in-person inspection is best with these. This 2526 has an estimate of $22,000 to $32,000.
F.P.Journe Chronomètre à Résonance (Lot 279)
Although the Chronomètre à Résonance is always cool, this is made even more interesting with its special hand-engraved dial, called “Regence,” made in a series of five watches for the retailer Les Ambassadeurs. This is the first time one of these five has come up for auction. This Résonance has an estimate of $38,000 to $59,000.
Heuer reference 2913 (Lot 173)
At first look, this Heuer looks a bit funny, as the ring around the numerals appears to be darker on the lower half. But looking again, it may just be the reflection of the camera. This Heuer dates to the early 1950s and is the same case as the highly-desirable Abercrombie & Fitch Seafarer reference 2443 made by Heuer. I measure this case at 38 mm (Antiquorum says 37 mm) and it wears big with a 20 mm width for a strap. It is rare to find a vintage pre-1960s Heuer in this size and I think it is a killer watch even with the patina on the dial. If you are interested, I would request photos of the movement and crown. To me, it looks unpolished and the alligator or crocodile strap looks quite old – perhaps it is even original to the watch. This Heuer has an estimate of $1,100 to $2,100.
J.L. Reutter ATMOS Clock (Lot 358)
This ATMOS clock developed by Jean-Léon Reutter pre-dates when Jaeger-LeCoultre took over production of the clocks in 1935. The marble case is just spectacular and the pre-JLC ATMOS clocks are highly collectible. This ATMOS has an estimate of $6,500 to $8,600.
Breguet Grande & Petite Sonnerie (Lot 419)
This Breguet is just a beautiful watch. It was originally sold to Monsier le Comte d’Archinto (a member of a noble Milanese family who was Ambassador to the House of Austria) on May 22, 1820, for 1,800 francs. It later ended up in the collection of Reverend W.B. Hawkins and Breguet supplied a certificate for the watch on March 17, 1891. The watch was then exhibited in Paris in October 1923 on the centenary of the death of Abraham-Louis Breguet and sold for 115,000 CHF in the 1991 Antiquorum sale “The Art of Breguet.”
Just check out the magnificence of that movement! This Breguet has an estimate of $54,000 to $75,000.
Unsigned Pocket Watch for the Chinese Market (Lot 152)
So this isn’t the usual type of piece we highlight here, but I did want to show it just because these pocket watches made for the Chinese market (typified by the enamel portrait of flowers on the case) have a rabid fan base in China who seek to return these to their original destination market. Here is a link to a New York Times article from November on the subject. I will be interested to see how this one does. This pocket watch has an estimate of $86,000 to $113,000.
Robert & Courvoisier “Dutch Kitchen” Pocket Watch (Lot 153)
Again, not something you typically see on HODINKEE, but this is a valuable ca. 1815 Robert & Courvoisier pocket watch made with an automaton scene called “The Dutch Kitchen.” According to Antiquorum, when activated the automaton mechanism controls: 1) the lady’s hand; 2) the spit’s rotation; 3) the fire’s flames; 4) the dog’s running; and 5) the wheel turning. It is one of fewer than a dozen kitchen automata known. We’re just happy it’s safe for work. This pocket watch has an estimate of $86,000 to $130,000.
Bidder Beware: Universal Geneve Tri-Compax (Lot 156)
UG Tri-Compax watches are very hot. It seems everyone is looking for them. This gold Tri-Compax is a nice 37mm size, but unfortunately the dial has been refinished. The key tell? The fact that the 0-60 numbers fall under the markers. The register numerals and style are not correct either. Yeah, that was a sloppy refinishing job. Unfortunately, the grading system box on the left side of the watch does not declare that the dial has been refinished. Lot 156 has an estimate of $3,500 to $4,900.
Bidder Beware: Breitling Duograph reference 762 (Lot 157)
On first paging through the catalog, this Breitling split seconds chronograph jumped out as one of the coolest in there, but I did some further digging and also spoke with @watchfred – one of the world’s leading experts on vintage Breitling watches – and he told me he believes the dial is clearly a replacement from a Breitling Premier (perhaps a 1944-1950/1951 Breitling Premier ref. 760 or similar) and that the original dial should say “Duograph.” The fact that the dial is a few years newer than the ca. 1941/1942 case with serial 510897 isn’t necessarily bad as the cases were frequently made well in advance of dials, but the Premier instead of Duograph is the big issue. Reviewing original advertising photos and other original examples, it does seem that all Duographs, such as this reference 762, should have dials that have “Duograph” under the Breitling on the dial.
As you know, dials probably affect watch values more than any other element of watch, so it is a bummer this one seems to have lost its original dial along the way – perhaps it was refinished and someone got another Breitling dial to try to fool non-experts or perhaps Breitling simply replaced it themselves during a servicing. In either scenario good work was done to match the dial with the hands. Whatever the reason, this watch with a Duograph dial would go for huge money since the steel case is in such great condition and the Venus 179 movement is incredible. Maybe it will go for big money anyways.
This watch was a good reminder to me that just because something looks correct at first glance it is still good to do further digging, to be careful when evaluating watches outside of your core expertise, and to talk to watch friends who may have more expertise in certain areas. Always bring a loupe, literally and figuratively. Lot 157 has an estimate of $7,600 to $9,700.
Rolex Oyster “Underline” reference 6426
This reference 6426 is just a simple, beautiful manual-wind watch made even more special by the fact it has an “underline” below Rolex Oyster. It dates to ca. 1962/1963 (not 1953 – non-Rolex experts often get confused as Rolex restarted numbering back to 100,000 in the 1950s. This watch appears unpolished from the one photo, although I would encourage interested bidders to seek additional photographs. It is Lot 502 in an upcoming Crescent City Auction Gallery sale on March 7 and 8 in New Orleans.
Longines reference 5130
This Longines from 1943 is notable for its 37 mm case with fixed lugs and black dial. According to Longines: “The original serial number 6’433’580 identifies a wristwatch in stainless steel bearing the reference 5130. It is fitted with a Longines manually wound mechanical movement, caliber 12.68Z and was invoiced on 15 January 1943 to our agent in Berlin, Germany.” That makes a lot of sense as black dials with radium numerals were the standard for the Nazi military, even if this was not an issued watch.
This watch is at $520 on eBay at the time of this article.
Longines Wristwatch with Black Sector Dial
Another great Longines watch currently on eBay is this black sector dial watch. According to Longines: “The original serial number 5’370’901 identifies a wristwatch in stainless steel, fitted with a Longines manually wound mechanical movement, caliber 12.68Z. It was invoiced on 15 October 1936 to the company Welsch, which was at that time our agent for Peru.” The dial and hands on this piece are just unbelievable and while the 30 mm case may scare some away, these are surprising wearable in my opinion.
This Longines is at $835 on eBay at the time of this article.
Seiko Automatic Chronograph reference 6139-6010
On the more economical side, I love these early Seiko automatic chronographs, like this 6139-6010. I wanted to show this as just a great eBay find. The seller said he purchased this watch in Da Nang, Vietnam, in 1970, then wore it for a few years, and it has been in his jewelry box since then. He said he picked it up recently and it is running great. The blue metallic dial on this reference is stunning and I think a new crystal would do wonders for this watch.
The high bid on this Seiko is $16.50 at the time of this article.
This Heuer Cortina from the 1980s appears to have lived a well-loved life. It also is an extremely uncommon watch. The blue Côtes de Genève-style dials on these watches are unusual and striking.
This Cortina is on eBay UK and the high bid is currently $785.76 at the time of this article.
LeCoultre Memovox “Empire State”
I had not seen a Memovox like this until @watchfred posted a photo of one recently. He dubbed it the “Empire State” Memovox due to the skyscraper-like hands and he had also not seen another like it. Just this week I came across a similar one on eBay. The minute hand is different, but looks original to the watch. It is in exceptional condition and includes the original box and papers.
The opening bid on eBay is $2,999.
Omega Constellation reference 2700SC
Although Omega Connies aren’t usually my thing, this very early rose-gold one on eBay caught my eye. According to the seller, Omega states that the watch was produced on 05/05/1955 and then shipped to Turkey. It has been polished lightly, according to the seller, but otherwise is in fantastic condition. You don’t seem them come along like this one very often.
This Connie is on eBay UK and has a high bid of $3,312.51 at the time of this article.
Patek Philippe Ellipse reference 3748/1 Given By Johnny Cash
While I don’t consider the Ellipse one of my favorite Patek watches, this is a notable watch for the inscription on the case back: “To / Dr. Sara / With much love and prayer for your happiness /Johnny Cash / 10-9/81.”
It also comes with a signed note from Johnny Cash.
This Patek is available from Crown & Calibre for $7,500.
Zenith 707 No. 601 Kartoffel Observatory Champion 1965 and 1966
This is one of the more interesting pieces I have seen recently. According to the seller: “This Zenith is arguably one of the most important watches in the world today with regards to the famous accuracy and chronometer competitions at the Neuchatel and Geneva Observatories in the 1960s. The wars between the manufactures for dominance in the chronometer trials is the stuff of legends. Collectors who understand this and who have watches such as one of the only 40 Observatory pieces made by Girard Perregaux or the Kew A Observatory Rolex would understand the significance of this piece. The movement 707 Kartoffel No. 601 was developed purely for performance, a Formula 1 engine, not for sale to the public, and most of them have been lost to history. Thanks to the foresight of the well known German watch journalist and author Mr. Christian Pfeiffer Belli – he saved this historically important movement. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for doing so as this very movement at the height of the bitterly fought chronometer competitions beat all of the manufacturers movements two years in a row in 1965 and 1966 and is the only movement that has the honor to have won two years in a row. This piece should be in a museum but is available to worn and enjoyed. Mr. Pfeiffer Belli had the movement secured in a bespoke case in the 1990s with the original competition dial, hands and movement so that it can be worn and enjoyed. It is a unique piece and the only one of its type in the world.”
This watch is depicted in Manfred Rossler’s Zenith book.
This Zenith is available for $40,000 from an unknown seller in Kuwait.
Rolex Sea-Dweller reference 1665
Okay, so this isn’t your run-of-the-mill Sea-Dweller; it happens to be a Patent Pending with Double-Red MK1 dial and on rivet prototype flip-lock clasp bracelet Sea-Dweller. As the seller, Kirill, states on his site: “This watch came direct from original owner. It has never been for sale before this and nothing has been altered or put together. Let’s start with watch’s history first. This watch has been owned by a Navy pilot and in recent years by his son, who is a Navy SEAL. Both the father and son are alive and well and are available to talk about the piece with new owner, if need be.”
You can read the full description on LunarOyster.com, but, long story short, the individual was doing final qualification dives in the fall of 1973 while wearing a Sub and when he exited the water he saw the watch was fogged. In early 1974 he finally found the time to send the Sub to Rolex with a letter containing his explanation concerning the demise of his Rolex Submariner. It wasn’t a nice letter. He also made sure to ship the watch direct to Geneva in order to get the most direct response possible from Rolex. About a month later he received a letter from Rolex explaining that his Sub was beyond repair and that they had replaced it with a recently reconditioned Rolex Sea-Dweller that had been tested by a group of British military Divers and that this watch should have no problems during dives. Amazingly, what showed up in a box was this Rolex Sea-Dweller 1665 MK1 PP with a rivet bracelet and flip-lock. The insert had been replaced before the owner received it from Rolex and the case has been polished, but it is just an amazing piece.
The watch will come with a written and signed autobiography by the father as well as military badges, old photos where he is wearing the piece, and even a negative of the picture you see of him wearing watch about to board a Navy plane.
This Rolex is available from LunarOyster.com for $225,000.
Bidder Beware: Fake Heuer Chronograph
As mentioned last week, there have been a lot fake Heuer chronographs surfacing in the last few years. This is simply a more economical chronograph that has been re-badged as a Heuer with a recently made fake Autavia box to boot. Avoid. It is on ricardo.ch with a current bid of 252 CHF.