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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rare Clocks, a Reverso Anniversary Sale and Fine Watches at Antiquorum Geneva Auction

A Breguet silver carriage clock with 10 complications once owned by the Marquise de Béthisy is one of the top items on the block at the Antiquorum Geneva sale of “Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces,” to be held on May 15.

Breguet introduced his silver humpback carriage clocks—of which only a few were made—circa 1812. The present clock is the most complicated of the eleven Breguet humpback carriage clocks known to exist. It has a total of 10 complications: grande sonnerie striking; petite sonnerie striking; alarm; perpetual calendar; days of the week; date; months; years; moon phases; and equation of time. It is the only known example with a quadruple digital perpetual calendar. The clock was sold to the Marquise de Béthisy on May 6, 1678, Antiquorum said. Its presale estimate is $173,000 to $231,000.

Another exceptional clock at auction is the Vacheron & Constantin "30 Days, Constant Force." No. 418068, made in 1933. This Art Deco style-clock has a 30-day power reserve. It is furnished by two mainspring barrels, which Antiquorum says is very unusual in a clock of its size, or of any clock. One of the difficulties of long-duration clocks is that timekeeping is affected as the mainspring winds down. This problem is counteracted by the use of a constant force escapement, a unique instance for Vacheron & Constantin and almost certainly for the entire Art Deco period. Pres sale estimate is $81,000 to $139,000.

More than 500 vintage and modern timepieces, pocket watches, and, of course, clocks will be offered for sale at the auction, which will be held at Geneva's Mandarin Oriental. The auction will also celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the iconic Reverso watch with a selection of 30 Reversos, including original pieces from 1931, emblematic and ultra-rare versions with colored dials, limited series with complications, and watches with enamel-decorated case backs. Jaeger-LeCoultre is partnering this special "Reverso Chapter," and will provide an extract from its archives, free of charge, for each lot made prior to 1950.

The Reverso was created in 1931 for British army officers stationed in India who requested a watch that could survive a polo match. The swiveling case of the Art Deco-style watch protected the dial and offered a surface that, as of the 1930s, could be personalized by means of engraving or enamel.

The highlight of this “Reverso Chapter” is a very rare, early, and desirable Steel Reverso with red lacquered dial with a presale estimate of $5,775 to $9,200.

One of the very first models to bear the LeCoultre signature, a 1930's Staybrite watch with chocolate-colored dial is a classic Reverso watch with small seconds. Six others are featured in the sale, including a rare example made for the French market and bearing the Jaeger signature, and another watch from among the few that were destined exclusively for the American market (presale estimate, $5,778 to $9,200).

Among the modern Reverso wristwatches, the highlight is "Mucha's Four Seasons" No. 1/25, Ref. 276.1.62, a set of four enameled pieces introduced in the 1990s and made in a limited edition of 25 sets. On the back of each case is a painted enamel portrait of a woman symbolizing each of the four seasons by Miklos Merczel, the manufacture's enamel artist (presale estimate $70,000 to $92,000).

Also on the block is a Louis Audemars "Grande Complication - "La Russe II," No. 12199, that retailed by G. Aspe, Paris in 1896. This timepiece is one of the most important complicated watches of the 19th century, Antiquorum says, with double perpetual calendar for Julian and Gregorian calendars, as well as minute-repeating, two time zones, chronograph, central 60-minute register, moon phases, lunar calendar and "reference d'heure" world-time calculation chart functions (presale estimate $115,000 to $173,000).

Offered at auction for the first time, the Rolex "Oyster Perpetual Date, Explorer II," Ref. 1655, Spade of Oman, was made in 1974 and retailed by Asprey of London. It is one of the few Rolex watches to feature the "Spade of Oman" logo. These special watches, with case number engraved on the inside case back, were sold by Asprey, the official Rolex retailer in the Arab world. This model also bears the rare engraved "Asprey" name on the outside caseback (presale estimate $115,500 to $173,000).

Another Rolex on the block is the "Oyster Perpetual, Comex, 660ft./200 m, Superlative Chronometer, Officially Certified," Ref. 1665, Rail Dial. The 1980 watch is accompanied by its original guarantee, 1970s Submariner and Oyster booklets, hang tag, anchor and original fitted box, as well as a COMEX magazine and COMEX regulator (presale estimate $81,000 to $150,000).

 There are two Patek Philippe watches that should earn strong interest in the upcoming auction, according to Antiquorum.

The first is a Reference 130, with pink dial, confirmed by the extract from the archives. This "Staybrite" stainless steel wristwatch with square button chronograph, register and tachometer scale was made in 1941 and was sold on March 3, 1943. Its presale estimate is $173,000 to $231,000.

The second is a Reference 5970G, circa 2006. This 18k white gold wristwatch has a square-button chronograph, register, perpetual calendar, moon phases, 24 hour indication, and tachometer (presale estimate $115,000 to $173,000).

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