Christie’s Auction: The Champion Collection Part VI: The Finest WatchmakingBy Revolution
What: The Champion Collection Part VI: The Finest Watchmaking
When: 27 November 2022, 7pm (HKT)
What might one expect from the sixth and penultimate sale in a series dedicated to the finest in watchmaking? A survey of high-complication wizardry and all-but-forgotten artisan crafts that elevate watchmaking into the realm of art.
The 82 lots being offered here, at a low estimate of HK$49 million in value, include grand complications and miniature painting executed on enamel — not least among which is a full set of Vacheron Constantin’s ethereal Métiers d’Art ‘Les Masques’ collection.
Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art ‘Les Masques’
It was a memorable moment when Vacheron Constantin unveiled the inaugural set of its Métiers d’Art ‘Les Masques’ collection at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in 2007. Comprising four watches, each watch bore a faithful gold miniature of a tribal mask from the Barbier-Muller Museum, entirely reproduced by hand. Twenty-five sets of four watches were made in 2007, with further collections added for 2008 and 2009, making a total of 12 variants for the ‘Les Masques’ collection in three editions. The owner of the Champion Collection managed to acquire one complete set of each of these three editions. The 2007 edition is offered here, with the rest to follow in future sales. Each watch is being sold as an individual piece.
In 18K white gold case, self-winding, and showing day, date and featuring a miniature of an antique Alaskan Tlingit Indian mask from the Barbier-Muller Museum. In unworn condition.
In pink gold case, featuring an antique Indonesian Wayang Topeng mask from the Barbier-Muller Museum. In unworn condition.
In 18K gold case, featuring an antique Chinese Qidan mask from the Barbier-Muller Museum. In unworn condition.
In platinum case, featuring an antique Congo Mahongwe mask from the Barbier-Muller Museum. In unworn condition.
In platinum case, this Reverso à Éclipses is part of a series of eight ‘Nus Célébres’ (‘Famous Nudes’) watches, each decorated with a miniature reproduction of a famous nude painting by the likes of Renoir, Klimt, Botticelli, Ingres, as well as a scene from the Kama Sutra, executed by hand on grand feu enamel. Like all Reverso watches, the case can be flipped on its back to protect the crystal; this watch also has an extra feature in rolling shutter that reveals the nude painting on demand behind a more discreet dial with 12 Arabic numeral hours. The present watch depicts The Turkish Bath by Jean Auguste-Dominique Ingres and is in like-new condition with full set of accessories.
The watch with the highest auction estimate of the 82 lots offered here is a self-winding grand complication that combines a minute repeater, instantaneous perpetual calendar, monopusher chronograph, with moon phases, leap year and day/night indication, in a 42mm platinum case. The Ref. 5208 is one of the most complicated wristwatches ever made by Patek Philippe; less than 100 pieces were made between 2011 and 2018, of which only four have ever returned to the market. Only the pink gold version remains in production. The present watch is in like-new condition, with full set of accessories including an additional solid platinum caseback.
‘Pour le Mérite’ represents the very best that A. Lange & Söhne has to offer, and this Richard Lange model in 40.5mm platinum case epitomizes high watchmaking with a manual-wind movement that employs a rare fusée-and-chain transmission to regulate energy flow and hence enhance timekeeping precision in a watch. Visible through the crystal caseback, the elaborately finished movement with its fusée-and-chain mechanism is a fitting counterpoint to the clean and equally beautiful large enamel dial on the front. In unworn condition, this present watch from 2011 is No.49/50 in a numbered and limited edition of 50 watches; to the best of Christie’s knowledge, it is the first time a platinum model of this reference is being sold at a Christie’s auction.
A tourbillon isn’t a simple mechanism by any measure, tapping on the energy within a movement to drive the escapement round and round to average out positional errors as a watch is worn throughout the day. Watchmakers Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey have made their name in taking this idea and ladling on layers of complexity in the pursuit of chronometric perfection. In this instance, two tourbillons are used, rotating on two axes within double cages each — hence “quadruple” in effect — and mated via a differential to average out timing inconsistencies over a greater range of positions than is possible with a single tourbillon. In 45mm platinum case, the watch in unworn condition also includes a free servicing (conditions apply) from Greubel Forsey.