Having covered highlights from the independent watchmakers at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Important Watches I auction, we now dive into the complicated timepieces in the sale that takes place on April 5.
In this roundup, we look at eight lots. Some, like the platinum Patek Philippe ref. 5016 with its minute repeater, perpetual calendar, and tourbillon, are amongst the most valuable lots of their sale. But this sale also has some value buys in the complications category, including offerings the likes of Van Cleef & Arpels and Bulgari.
Registration for bidding and the entire catalogue can be accessed here.
The Lady Arpels Pont des Amoureux was one of the most poetic timepieces the Parisian jeweller crafted in the past few decades. It features a blue enamelled dial with painted indexes while being encased in a 38 mm white gold case with diamond settings on its side and buckle.
It is centred on a unique way of depicting the passing of time through a double retrograde complication. Here, the lady with an umbrella indicates the hours whilst her man marks the minutes.
The two figures eventually move towards one another until they meet and “kiss” once the time reaches midday and at midnight on top of the bridge that overlooks the Seine river.
As with other iterations of the Lady Arpels, the dial was executed through grisaille, a meticulous process of enamelling that dates back to the 16th century. Enamellers must apply numerous layers of colour to depict the proposed design before being fired in a kiln at very high temperatures.
Like the rest of the series, it is powered by the cal. 846 LeCoultre manual movement and remained in production until it was discontinued in 2019.
Accompanied by only its presentation box, it has an estimate of HK$400,000-600,000, or about US$51,000-76,500. You can find out more in the catalogue.
In modern times, Audemars Piguet (AP) is always associated with its sporty Royal Oak. But before that, it has always been a pioneer in the realm of extreme complications, notably the grande sonnerie.
Named after one of the brand’s founders, the Jules Audemars was a highly complex yet refined iteration of this rare iteration that has since been surpassed recently in the Code 11:59 Universelle.
As this is a grande sonnerie, means it can strike the hours and quarters at will through a pusher at 11 o’clock on demand or while a slider at two o’clock offers different settings to select the grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie or a silent function.
While these functions have lost their practicality in contemporary times, the complexity of crafting these rare complications is still very much appreciated by discerning collectors.
This example is pink gold and measures 38.5 mm in diameter. Similar to other iterations of the complication, this Jules Audemars is powered by the cal. 2868 manual movement.
Accompanied by only its presentation box, this Jules Audemars Grande Sonnerie is numbered “15/50”. The estimate is HK$600,000-800,000, or about US$76,500-102,000.
You can find out more in the catalogue.
The Cartier Tank Cintreé is one of the most desirable vintage Tanks, which was first released in 1921. To celebrate Cartier timepiece designs through the 20th century, they released the Collection Privée Cartier Paris, which lasted for a whole decade.
This example was released in 2004 as part of a limited series of 150 pieces meant for the Asian market. It retains the characteristics of the iconic elongated design but with some tweaks to its design.
It has been reconfigured into a dual timezone watch with Roman numerals at 12 o’clock and Chinese numerals at six o’clock. This transforms this ordinary time-only model into elegant yet functional wristwear for travellers.
This example is encased 18k white gold case that measures 45 mm in diameter and 23.5 mm high. It has a silvered guilloche dial with a concentric pattern finish.
Numbered “86/100”, the present example is in excellent condition. It is complete with its original accessories. The estimate is HK$120,000-180,000, or about US$15,300-23,000.
For more, visit the catalogue entry.
A. Lange & Söhne has since become a vanguard of modern German watchmaking since its revival in 1994. While much focus has been given to its seminal models, the Lange 1 and the Datograph, it has also released some peculiar offerings in its wake.
One of them was the Cabaret, a lineup introduced in 1997 that the brand later expanded as its platform for its complications. The Cabaret quietly faded into obscurity, and the current Lange collection has since focused on more round watches.
This is one of the later iterations of the Cabaret, where its silvered dial has been cut out to showcase the tourbillon profile. This example dates to 2008 and is encased in a rectangular platinum case.
The Cabaret Tourbillon is decked with a digital date display on top for a visually balanced look. The seconds and power reserve sub-dials are placed at the seven and four o’clock positions, respectively.
Inside is the cal. L042.1, a manual-wind movement with a one-minute tourbillon. Thanks to its patented hacking seconds mechanism, the movement has been designed to halt the tourbillon by pulling the crown.
Like most Lange movements, the calibre is characterised by bevelled bridges, blued screws, and jewels in gold chatons. Here there are two movement cocks that are hand-engraved with a floral motif – one that supports the tourbillon cage and the other for the wheel that drives the tourbillon cage.
It is also accompanied by its presentation box, certificate and original accessories. It has an estimate of HK$600,000-800,000, or around US$76,500-102,000.
Find out more in the catalogue.
One of the most notable features of the ref. 3945 is its moon phase complication, which displays the moon’s current phase in a small aperture at six o’clock. Similarly, it also features a leap year indicator without a cross divider accompanied by bevelled-down subsidiary dials.
The Patek Philippe ref. 5078 is a stunning timepiece that features a minute repeater complication, which allows the watch to chime the time on demand. The watch has a classic design with a 38 mm case in platinum and a possibly-unique and definitely elegant dial.
Instead of surrounding the enamel dial with Roman numerals, the watch has been set instead with blackened Breguet numerals to enhance its visibility on the wrist. Similarly, the hands and the seconds dial at six o’clock were executed in a similar fashion.
This special type of service is nominally reserved for the brand’s exclusive clientele and it would seem that the previous owner of this timepiece was part of that important circle. According to Sotheby’s, the consignor purchased the timepiece and has kept it locked away. Thus, it is being sold in like-new condition.
As with its brothers, this ref. 5078 is powered by the cal. R 27 PS, a self-winding minute repeater with classic gongs which is hand-finished and decorated with Geneva stripes. With its elegant design and impressive complication, the Patek Philippe ref. 5078 is a true masterpiece of haute horologerie.
The platinum ref. 5078 includes its original certificate, presentation box, and other accessories. It has an estimate of HK$2.6-4 million, or about US$332,000-510,000. Full lot details here.
The star of this auction is undoubtedly the Patek Philippe ref. 5016. First launched in 1994, the reference was considered one of the most complicated timepieces produced by Patek Philippe that other models in the same genre have surpassed.
As covered in an earlier review, it is the brand’s only model with this particular dial layout, featuring a retrograde date with triple calendar windows and moon phases combined with the subsidiary seconds.
Due to the cal. RTO 27 PS QR (Repetition minutes, TOurbillon, Petit Seconde, Quantieme Retrograde), the level of care taken in crafting the numerous complications in this timepiece surpasses those seen in its more modern offerings. Because it is just 36 mm, the watch is eminently discreet and wearable.
On offer at Sotheby’s is the platinum variant with a black dial set with applied Breguet numerals. It is also one of the last ref. 5016 that the brand produced, with the final production run featuring movements bearing the Patek Philippe Seal.
This example was part of the estimated 200 pieces produced by Patek Philippe during its 16-year production. It has all its original packaging and accessories and carries an estimate of HK$4.2-6 million, or about US$535,100-764,400.
You can find out more in the catalogue.
Preview and auction details
All lots will be on show during the preview in Hong Kong during the run-up to the auction. Both the preview exhibition and sale will happen at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (New Wing).
April 5, 10:00 am
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (New Wing)
1 Expo Drive
For the full catalogue, as well as viewing appointments and online bidding, visit sotheby’s.com.
This was brought to you in collaboration with Sotheby’s.