Catawiki Auction May 2022: An Eclectic Century of WatchmakingBy Revolution
Cars and watches have always existed in the same sphere of interest and desirability for collectors and enthusiasts alike. The road along which the two sectors drive in tandem is littered with examples that were either ill-thought-through or simply didn’t quite work out as the brands expected. Of course, there are also examples of when rubber wheel and column wheel have collided and the finished watch is pitch perfect. One such coolaboration was between Jaeger-LeCoultre (JLC) and Aston Martin. Both brands have outstanding reputations in their relevant fields, and the watches that they created both look good and have some groundbreaking design elements.
The AMVOX 3 Tourbillon GMT, packs a lot into its 44mm ceramic and platinum case, as its name suggests. Made in a limited edition of 300 pieces, the watch features a sapphire crystal caseback that allows great views of the JLC in-house caliber 988 with its 35 jewels and 48-hour power reserve. The tourbillon sits in the lower half of the dial just above the famous Aston Martin wings logo. The red GMT hand allows for the monitoring of a second time zone and the engine can also be glimpsed through the partly openworked dial.
As long as 20 years before the introduction of the Rolex Daytona in 1963, the brand began offering Oyster-cased chronographs. Some of the earliest models featured only two subdials, such as this example of reference 4500. Featuring a two-piece so-called monoblocco case (where the bezel and mid-case are one piece, with a screw-on caseback) the reference 4500 had only a running seconds and 30-minute subdials. Later models had a third subdial, which measure elapsed hours, but collectors do like the two-dial layout for its balance. The offered watch retains its original crown and has a patinated dial with applied Roman numerals at 12 and six o’clock, and interesting square applied hours for the rest.
Fast forward to the noughties and the Daytona is truly established as one of the most iconic chronographs of all time. Where once the Daytona was a simple, unadorned, somewhat utilitarian sports watch, with the introduction of the automatic versions in the late 1980s, Rolex began experimenting with interesting dial materials and gem-setting on the dials and cases. One of the most sought-after Daytona dials is made from sodalite, a sodium-heavy hardstone known for its blue hue. Catawiki is offering a white gold watch on leather strap, reference 116519, with a sodalite dial and applied diamond hour markers. The watch is fitted with the correct non-luminous hands and the watch remains in very fine condition.
There is a huge section of the watch collecting community that is focused on military watches. Watches from the mid-20th century are both popular and steadily growing in value. One very interesting sector of this collecting stand is pilot’s watches, and in particular, the German so-called Big Pilot watches that date to World War Two. These watches were made to the same specification by five brands, as was common when a military force required a large number of watches in order sizes too large for one brand to make within the required time frames. The B-Uhr, or Beobachtungs-uhren (observation watches), were made for the Luftwaffe by IWC, A. Lange & Söhne, Laco, Stowa and Wempe.
The auction features such a watch made by IWC. The watch houses what is referred to as a Type A dial, with bold Arabic hour markers painted onto the dial with a triangle at 12. Due to the supersized case at 55mm, the watch has long hands. The nickname Big Pilot comes from the fact that these were big watches that also had big winding crowns that were often conical in form. This allowed the pilots to set the watches whilst wearing gloves in the freezing cockpits of their planes. The IWC ones are certainly the most collectible of the B-Uhr watches.
One of the headline pieces from the sale, is a Patek Philippe pocket watch in pink gold that is as complicated as it is visually stunning. The watch dates back to September 1880, during the era when Patek Philippe was perfecting its perpetual calendars, and each example manufactured between 1874 and 1889 was a little different. This watch does, however, feature the instantaneous and simultaneous jump of the calendar disks that was the work of Jean-Adrien Philippe and patented by the brand in 1889. The keyless-winding watch features a perpetual calendar, including moon phases, in French (day and month) as well as a five-minute repeater using two steel gongs.
This impressive and important Patek Philippe pocket watch was commissioned by Eusebi Güell, the son of a wealthy industrialist from Torredembarra, Catalonia, Spain. Güell was a close friend of world-renowned architect Antoni Gaudí. The two enjoyed collaborating on projects and examples of the duo’s work include the Bodegas Güell, the Güell Pavilions, as well as, most famously, the Park Güell and the Palau Güell, which are today both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The man clearly had great taste in all areas of his life and this auction offers bidders a chance to own an original Patek Philippe timepiece from the tastemaker’s estate.