Christie’s The Ultimate Collection May 2023
Christie’s Hong Kong presents the Ultimate Collection, an incredible single-owner collection of watches in a special evening sale on the 26th May.
This May, Christie’s Hong Kong presents an incredible single-owner collection of watches in a special evening sale on the 26th May. The collection encompasses all the major blue-chip watch brands with one thing in common: they are all in incredible condition. The collection has a very strong contemporary theme, but also includes a number of important vintage watches from both Patek Philippe and Rolex. It might sound like a cliché, but there really is something for everyone in this sale and, for that reason, it is already garnering a lot of attention from collectors from all walks of horological hoarding.
Collecting is a deeply personal pursuit. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure, and so, whilst I’m not suggesting any wristwatch can be labeled ‘junk’, the theme of any given collection can be happened upon by accident or meticulously planned out. There are, of course, influencing factors such as budget and taste.
I have a friend who collects unsigned Tank watches that cost between USD200 and USD1,000, and I have another buddy who collects grand-complication Pateks. Both are equally in love with their hobby and show comparable levels of passion. At first glance, it might be hard to distinguish any through-thread for the Ultimate Collection, but spend five minutes looking at the catalog (and I suggest you do) and you will spot it pretty quickly. Condition. This anonymous collector has Catholic taste when it comes to brands and eras, but quality and condition are the constant. New old-stock, unpolished, sealed and double-sealed — all present and in abundance!
When it comes to independent rockstar brand F.P. Journe, there is a strong showing. Three of Journe’s most important creations are the Chronomètre à Résonance, the Centigraphe Souverain and the Tourbillon Souverain Vertical. All three are represented in the Ultimate Collection. However, only very special, ultra-exclusive boutique and limited editions are offered — and they are all in outstanding condition. It’s a similar story with Lange. Considered the thinking man’s high-end watch, the sale features an incredible five examples of Lange & Söhne’s Lange 1. If you’re a Royal Oak fan, the sale will leave you spellbound with some highly desirable Audemars Piguet gems, including an ultra-rare steel and platinum skeletonized Royal Oak perpetual calendar, a tantalum and platinum Royal Oak perpetual calendar, and a ‘Jumbo’ reference 16202ST 50th Anniversary watch. And yes, rest assured that they’re all in stunning condition.
Lot 2544: A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Ref. 101.027
The Lange 1 reference 101.027 was made for only five short years between 1997 and 2002 and was the brand’s first Lange 1 in white gold. The present lot features the line’s signature offset double date window and 39mm case size, combined with the ever-popular blue-dial option. It’s the aforementioned date display that is the standout feature on these watches, inspired by one of the first digital-display clocks from the Semper Opera House in Dresden. The unconventional dial layout is very Bauhaus in its execution, with offset date, small seconds and hour/minute indicator all seemingly flowing together seamlessly. Lot 2544 comes complete with a blank A. Lange & Söhne International Guarantee, proof of origin, presentation box and outer packaging.
Lot 2607: Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 3970ER-028
Patek Philippe fans will not be disappointed by the collection. For the Nautilus lover, there is pretty much everything you could dream of, including a staggering selection of unworn examples, including a double-sealed pink gold reference 5990, a mint-condition pink gold reference 5712, and a super-cool rare ‘telephone-dial’ steel 3800 with slate gray soleil-finish dial with white painted Arabic numeral hours. The headline lot is not a Nautilus, but a pink gold 3970 made exclusively for the Grand Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London in 2015.
Across 21 rooms of the Gallery, Patek Philippe showcased all aspect of high-end watchmaking to the general public. No fewer than 42,500 visitors attended over the 12-day event and a number of special watches were created to celebrate. Reference 3970 was introduced in 1986 and was the successor to the hugely important ref. 2499 perpetual calendar. The main difference was that the Valjoux-based movement that had powered the ref. 2499 for five decades was replaced by a Lemania ébauche. In 2004, the ref. 3970 was retired to make way for the ref. 5970. Remarkably, 11 years after it was discontinued, five pink gold ref. 3970s were made using new old-stock movements and cases, and fitted with an incredible black dial with Breguet numeral at 12. Lot 2607 remains double sealed and has been untouched by human hands since leaving the factory in 2015. Without a doubt, it is one of the rarest and most desirable of the modern Patek Philippe output.
There is Rolex collecting and then there’s Daytona collecting. Rolex’s sports chronograph is unparalleled when it comes to variation, desirability and investment potential. The Ultimate Collection has 11 examples, all of which are cool in their own way, including a vintage Big Red ref. 6263, Paul Newman ref. 6264, and platinum and gold in-house models of the hottest variety!
Lots 2506 to 2508 are a trio of Daytonas from Rolex’s first series of automatic chronos that were first introduced in 1988. As with all things Daytona, it’s all about the minutiae and these watches are the three most desirable of the modified Zenith-movement Daytonas that spanned over a decade from 1988 to 2000. Lot 2507 is the first, chronologically, and is known as the ‘Floating’, due to the fact that the fifth and bottom line of text in the upper half of the dial, the word ‘COSMOGRAPH’, is detached from the other lines and is seemingly floating away. Additionally, the bezel is calibrated only up to 200 units, with the 200 sitting at three o’clock on the bezel like the vintage watches. This combination of dial and bezel only existed in the first year of production of the ref. 16520 and is the most sought after.
In 1989, the second year of the 16520, there existed a dial with only four lines of text, known as the ‘four-liner’. There was, in tandem with this dial type (roughly – nothing is exact with the Crown!), a bezel that was calibrated to 400 units, but had a ‘225’ measure on it. This is arguably rarer than the 200 bezels and is very desirable with a four-line dial. Fast forward to 1999 and at the end of the Zenith Daytona’s run, there was a version with solid-endlinks, the last series production-dial variation, the Mk7, and luminova on the dial and hands. This was a transitional version before the in-house-movement watches came into play in 2000. As a trio, this is about as good as black-dial Zeniths get and, importantly, the condition is top-notch!
The Ultimate Collection live auction takes place at 18:00 HKT at Christie’s Hong Kong. View the full catalog here.
|Movement||Self-winding caliber A-500; 60 hours power reserve|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date|
|Case||42.5mm; titanium; water resistant to 30m|
|Dial||Salmon (6N gold plated) with gené or frosted area; Super-LumiNova filled Arabic numerals|
|Strap||Ballistic gray rubber; titanium folding clasp|