|Richard Mille RM008|
The appeal of contemporary independent watchmaker, Richard Mille, continues to grow. Demand has now extended to the auction market, where his rare, expensive and technically advanced timepieces are earning a following among collectors.
All four Richard Mille watches (including a women’s watch) on offer sold at the Sotheby’s Hong Kong Important Watch Sale with two of them among the top five lots. It was one of the main stories at April 5 auction where collectors were attracted to a variety of established and contemporary brands.
“Collectors’ interest has become increasingly diverse, with the top ten lots comprising not only traditionally sought-after brands, but also complex models and those by independent watchmakers,” said Jessie Kang, Sotheby’s head of Watches, Asia. “Unique designs and rare pieces remain popular, with all four Richard Mille watches on offer sold. Bidding from 33 countries was vibrant, with many new buyers in the sale room and a number of Sotheby’s existing clients exploring the field of watch collecting for the first time.”
The top lot wasn’t a watch but a clock and art object. The Cartier “Flamingo and Lotus Automaton Clock” sold for $537,924, above estimate. It features a bejeweled flamingo and lotus set on an 18k yellow gold rectangular base set with onyx and gray mottled hardstone. One of four large round lapis lazuli buttons activates the lotus automaton. The top of the base is in mother-of-pearl with a large yellow diamond and diamond-set lotus. Its ten petals open to reveal the dial, all on nephrite leaves. The large flamingo standing on one leg is covered with brilliant-cut diamonds. Its plumage set with square-cut sapphires, rubies and emeralds, with the beak made of pink hardstone and onyx. Sapphire eyes are the final touch.
The top lot among watches was the Richard Mille RM008, a pink gold tourbillon split seconds chronograph (top photo) that sold for $383,053. This highly complicated watch is powered by the manually wound caliber RM-008/1 with a one-minute tourbillon carriage visible at 6 o'clock with compensation balance, semi-skeletonized matte charcoal dial, two subdials for constant seconds and 30-minute register, outer scale calibrated for tachymeter, fan-form power reserve indicator at 11 o'clock position and torque indicator at 1 o'clock. It’s all housed in an 18k pink gold tonneau-shaped case.
The third lot of the sale fell to one of the most popular brands on the auction market, Patek Philippe, with a pink gold minute repeater perpetual calendar, reference 5013, which sold for $352,611, within its estimate.
A Jaeger-LeCoultre white gold Spherotourbillon watch with date, flyback seconds and power reserve indicator, was the fourth highest seller, fetching $281,509.
Rounding out the top five was the Richard Mille RM 015 “Tourbillon Perini Navi.” It’s inspired by the sailing vessels of the yacht builders Perini Navi of Viareggio. The white gold tonneau-shaped semi-skeleton Tourbillon timepiece fetched an above-estimate, $273,466.
The sale at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre took in more than $7.4 million, with 75.2% sold by lot and 84.8% sold by value. A total of 303 lots were on offer.
“We are pleased with the solid results and the healthy sell-through rate of the sale,” Kang said.
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