Christie’s Hong Kong sets the stage for the Auction of the Decade in Asia.

2021 on track to becoming a world-record setting year for Christie's Watches.

Christie's Hong Kong sets the stage for the Auction of the Decade in Asia
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After setting a historic record for online sales worldwide with the Dubai auction 15 days ago (US$ +14 million for a 100% online watch auction) and with the makings of one in HK on May 22nd, Christie’s is on its way to a championship season in the watchmaking field.

This is the day. Join us on Saturday, May 22nd, 2021 for:

    • The first historic “Evening Watch Sale” hosted by Christie’s in HK (May 22nd at 7pm).
    • The Auction of the Decade in Asia, with renowned museums and collectors from around the world in attendance. A sale of this importance only happens once every 10 years.
    • 18 lots of breathtaking quality with the potential to break the record for any watch sale ever held in Asia. Est. HKD 77,500,000 – 200,600,000 (US$ 9.9 million – 25.8 million).
    • Curated around the theme of ‘The Legends of Time,’ the sale is a once in a lifetime opportunity to glimpse some of the most extraordinary creations in watchmaking history. The event will take place at the HK Convention and Exhibition Centre in an elegant atmosphere.
    •  ‘The Place to Be’ for viewing and bidding for the most exceptional pieces in the decade, not only for the watch community, but for the whole of high society, and reconnect the auction with the spirit of a social event at the highest level. International press will cover the event combining prestige, the magic of an auction of exceptional objects and the pleasure of being there and being seen – naturally in complete compliance with health regulations.
    • Scheduled at 2 pm the same day, a “Day Sale” will precede the evening event. This second sale includes 147 lots with a selection of highly desirable vintage & modern watches, including 56 Patek Philippe & 36 Rolex watches bound to attract watch lovers and keen collectors the world over. Est. HKD 80,801,000 – 147,107,000 / US$ 10.4 million – 18.9 million).
    • The two sales on the same day are poised to set an all-time record for an Asian auction, by far surpassing the bar of HKD 157,601,099 – 346,107,000/ US$ 19,700,125 – 43,263,375 – (cf. the last record set by Christie’s at US$ 26 million in November 2019).

Alexandre Bigler, Vice President and Head of Watches, Christie’s Asia Pacific comments: “May 22, 2021 will be a date that will go down in the annals of watch auctions around the world. Asia is poised to witness a new record for the watch market in the region. The evening sale, with 18 fabulous lots that are true ‘Legends of Time,’ will be the auction event of the decade, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some of the most remarkable watchmaking creations ever.  Complemented by a Day Sale on the same day and our online sales, Christies’ Asian watch auction season is one for the record books and will go down in history.”

Gala Event on 22 May 2021 at 7:00 PM at the HK Convention and Exhibition Centre

Asia – The record-setting ‘Auction of the Decade’. Christie’s Watches Department will be holding the first historic watch standalone evening sale. From the 1800s to the modern era: The extraordinary selection of 18 timepieces curated under the theme ‘The Legends of Time’ is bound to astound the watch loving and collecting community – museums and collectors – with its rarity and outstanding quality. Key highlights below:

Extraordinary provenance

Alan Banbery’s yellow gold Patek Philippe ref. 3448J ‘Senza Luna’ perpetual calendar wristwatch can be described, without exaggeration, as one of the most famous wristwatches in the world. This exceptional and historically important 18K gold automatic perpetual calendar wristwatch with an English calendar, prototype leap year indication and ‘no moon’ manufactured in 1970, especially modified by request of Henri and Philippe Stern in 1975 as a unique piece for presentation to Alan Banbery, is an icon. Of immense historical and horological significance, the piece is surely one of the most legendary wristwatches associated with Patek Philippe and it is offered here with the same sense of excitement that accompanies the appearance of any world-class work of art at auction (estimate: HKD 24.8 Million – 40 Million / US$ 3.2 Million – 5.162 Million, please click here for details).

The Unique ‘Gradowski’ Grande Complication – Patek Philippe’s Earliest Grande Complication Watch. At the time it was made in 1890, this extraordinary horological masterpiece was the most complicated watch Patek Philippe had ever produced. It featured a unique minute repeater with two-train Grande et Petite Sonnerie movement, keyless lever, instantaneous perpetual calendar, indications for both the Julian and Gregorian calendars, moon phases and a chronograph with central 60-minute recorder. The other major patron of Patek Philippe was Henry Graves Jr. from the United States. Of museum quality, this timepiece comes before Graves’s famous Grande Complication, making it even more historically important (estimate: HKD 4 Million – 12 Million / US$ 517,000 – 1.549 Million).


Collectors will also discover a selection of stunning enamel timepieces, including a rare Patek Philippe ref. 1415 HU in 18K pink gold. This small (31mm) timepiece from the 1950s is only one of two models known to exist, and this one features a rare and unusual polychrome cloisonné enamel dial. Very few enamel dials of this quality exist today, making this timepiece a highly sought-after collector’s piece (estimate: HKD 8 Million – 24 Million / US$ 1.033 Million – 3.097 Million).

An extremely rare Patek Philippe ref. 2481J, manufactured 1954, with a unique lighthouse enamel design presented in 18K yellow gold. This centre-seconds timepiece depicts a cloisonné enamel scene depicted in exceptional and flamboyant colours. The timepiece was crafted at a time when enamel paints were of the highest quality thanks to the inclusion of mercury, which is forbidden today. It would thus be impossible to recreate the same colourful scene using contemporary enamels. It is important to note that very few enamel dials of this quality are known to exist, as so few have survived cracks or damage (estimate: HKD 2 Million – 6 Million / US$ 259,000 – 775,000).

Exceptional Craftmanship

As part of a pair, a magnificent and particularly rare musical timekeeper with automaton in 18K gold with pearls and enamel is also presented at the Christie’s Hong Kong evening auction. Attributed to Piguet & Capt. and made for the Chinese market, this horological treasure comes in the form of an amphora and is adorned with the most sublime miniature enamel – attributed to Jean-Louis Richter, renderings that take the object far beyond the art of fine watchmaking alone. The other timekeeper which completes the pair is currently displayed in the Patek Philippe Museum (estimate: HKD 8 Million – 40 Million / US$ 1.033 Million – 5 Million).

Continuing along the same theme of horological objets d’art, on offer is a perfume spray that comes in the form of a Flintlock pistol featuring a clock in the grip made for the Chinese market. Attributed to Moulinié, Bautte & Cie or J.B.Garrand, Geneva, and decorated to the highest level of hand craftsmanship in 18K gold with enamel and pearls, the pistol sprays perfume when pulling the trigger (estimate: HKD 800,000 – 2.4 Million / US$ 104,000 – 310,000).  

One-of-a-kind rarities

A superstar watch returns to auction. A unique and extremely important platinum Patek Philippe World Time wristwatch manufactured in 1946. There is only one platinum reference 1415 HU in the world. It needs almost no introduction, in 2002 it caused a sensation when it became the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction, realizing an astonishing 6,603,500 Swiss Francs, a record that remained unbroken for some years after. Unseen in public since that momentous day in 2002, in the intervening almost two decades, it has gained something approaching mythical status (estimate: HKD 8 Million – 24 Million / US$ 1.033 Million – 3.097 Million).

Lovers of the Patek Philippe World Time will also be excited to discover an extremely rare Patek Philippe two-crown World Time wristwatch ref. 2523-1 from the 1950s. It is much larger than the other World Timers presented in this sale and thinner than the reference 2523 recognizable by its wide lugs. This piece has a unique dial, as the hands and indexes are enhanced with luminescence. This watch comes with a unique, specially made gold bracelet that is detachable.  Only 15 pieces of this reference 2523-1 were produced in 18K yellow gold (estimate: HKD 8 Million – 24 Million / US$ 1.033 Million – 3.097 Million).

The auction will also feature several exciting one-of-a-kind timepieces, including this rare Patek Philippe ref. 1579R chronograph wristwatch in 18K pink gold. The tachymeter and spider lugs, and especially the unique bezel catch the eye. Manufactured 1950, this elegant wristwatch has the double signature of Patek Philippe and its original retailer, Gobbi Milano (estimate: HKD 3.2 Million – 6.5 Million/ US$ 413,000 – 839,000).

Earlier the same day: 22 May 2021 at 2:00PM at the HK Convention and Exhibition Centre

The Day Sale offers 147 lots, including 56 Patek Philippe timepieces (vintage, modern and contemporary) as well as a captivating selection of 36 unusual and high-quality Rolexes, and a unique F. P.  Journe Chronomètre Souverain made for none other than Master Watchmaker George Daniels.

Highly desirable Rolexes

Christie’s will present a remarkable selection of vintage and modern Rolexes, many of which have unique dials or cases that make them of particular interest to collectors. One of the most popular watches in the line-up is the new, and yet extremely hard-to-find, Rolex Daytona Rainbow ref. 116595RBOW in pink gold (estimate: HKD 2.6 Million – 3.6 Million / US$ 336,000 – 465,000). There will also be a rare Rolex Daytona ref. 16519 in white gold with salmon dial made in very small numbers and rare at auction (estimate: HKD 1.5 Million – 3 Million / US$ 194,000 – 388,000). Equally rare is the Rolex Daytona ref. 16528 in yellow gold with a blue dial from the 1990s, claimed to be made for the CEO and board of directors of Rolex (estimate: HKD 2 Million – 4 Million / US$ 259,000 – 517,000).

Also in the sale, a Rolex Daytona ref. 6240 with a floating ‘Small Daytona’ that is separate from the other lines on the dial. This timepiece comes with all its original features, including the initial pushers and Mark I bezel. It is also in superb condition, making it of particular interest to connoisseurs (estimate: HKD 1 Million – 2 Million / US$ 130,000 – 259,000). A lesser-known model on offer is the Rolex Milgauss Mark I ref. 6541 that comes with the beautiful tropical dial that collectors are particularly fond of (estimate: HKD 2 Million – 3 Million / US$ 259,000 – 388,000).

The Rolex Submariner ref. 5514 ‘Comex’ (estimate: HKD 1.3 Million – 2.3 Million / US$ 168,000 – 297,000) was originally made for professional industrial divers working at Comex in the South of France. These pieces were never commercialized, making them highly collectible today. Prices have increased dramatically over the last few years. Another interesting Submariner on offer is the Rolex Submariner ref. 6538 (estimate: HKD 1 Million – 2 Million / US$ 130,000 – 259,000). This timepiece has a big crown specially conceived to meet the needs of divers, with its dial showing various patinas and beautiful sweeping tropical patches.

Two rare manual-winding Rolex Daytonas will also be unveiled. The Rolex Daytona ref. 6239 ‘Solo’ from the 60s that only has the inscription ‘Rolex’ on the dial (estimate: HKD 900,000 – 1.8 Million / US$ 117,000 – 233,000). This solo inscription was soon complemented by ‘Cosmograph’ and ‘Daytona,’ making this model quite remarkable. The second piece is a Rolex Daytona ref. 6239 ‘Cherry’ featuring a big red ‘Daytona’ cherry-coloured logo at the six o’clock position (estimate: HKD 650,000 – 1 Million / US$ 84,000 – 130,000). These red logos were produced early on before being stopped and then reintroduced again in the 1970s, which makes them quite sought-after.

Highlights from the independents

Christie’s Hong Kong has the very special honour and privilege of presenting a special F. P. Journe timepiece, which Journe made especially for George Daniels, who was his friend, muse, and mentor. During a dinner organized by John and William Asprey in London in 2010, Journe offered Daniels a unique Chronomètre Souverain in platinum that he had made for his friend. The balance wheel is inscribed with “FP to George Daniels, My Mentor 2010” (estimate: HKD 2 Million – 6 Million / US$ 259,000 – 775,000). Click here to know more about the collecting guide of F. P. Journe.

A rare F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain is for sale in platinum (estimate: HKD 1.4 Million – 2.4 Million/ US$ 181,000 – 310,000), also an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Limited Edition in platinum (estimate: HKD 1.4 Million – 2.4 Million/ US$ 181,000 – 310,000), joined by a rare Harry Winston Minute Repeater Limited Edition with the most beautiful chime (estimate: HKD 550,000 – 850,000 / US$ 71,000 – 110,000), and a Christophe Claret X-TREM Pinball Tourbillon, one of a very small series (estimate: HKD 500,000 – 1 Million / US$ 65,000 – 130,000).

High  jewellery pieces

On offer are two magnificent Haute Joaillerie pieces: a Piaget Aura with diamonds and rubies with a splendid bracelet made by the Maison’s artisans (estimate: HKD 650,000 – 1.2 Million / US$ 84,000 – 155,000) and a Chanel’s iconic J12 (estimate: HKD 800,000 – 1.6 Million / US$ 104,000 – 207,000) dressed in black ceramic with baguette diamonds and rubies and a full pavé bracelet with baguette diamonds. Only five pieces were made with this design.

Christie’s Day & Evening auctions are part of Christie’s global spring calendar. With this season, which promises to be the season of all seasons, Christie’s confirms a new successful format of auctions ‘open to the world’ that combines 100% online sales with a small number of prestigious live events (only in HK and Geneva), taking the multicentenary auction house on a firm stride into the future.

Christie’s Hong Kong
Saturday, May 22nd, 2021 at 2pm – Day sale ‘Important watches’
Saturday, May 22nd, 2021 at 7pm – Evening sale ‘The Legends of Time’
19 May – 2 June 2021 – Online sale ‘Watches Online’

To preview the lots curated for the ‘Auction of the Decade,’ please click here:

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  1. This coming Saturday in Hong Kong: Christie's prepares to dazzle with the Auction of the Decade in Asia - Watch I Love

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