Christie’s presenting the Patek Philippe 605 ‘Heures Universelles’ masterpiece

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Christie’s Hong Kong presents a masterpiece
of Haute Horlogerie debuting at auction


Highlighting Christie’s Hong Kong Live Sale, 24 May

Hong Kong – It’s a horological masterpiece combining a movement of high mechanical ingenuity with a design of exceptional aesthetical appeal, in excellent condition and of extreme rarity, that will be offered at Christie’s Hong Kong Live auction on 24 May: the Patek Philippe 605 Heures Universelles, an 18K gold open-faced keyless lever world time watch with polychrome cloisonné enamel dial representing a map of the world.

Manufactured in 1948, and sold in 1954, this magnificent exemplar of Haute Horlogerie, one of the earliest to avail itself of Louis Cottier’s world time system, and created under Cottier’s direct supervision, is presented for the first time at auction. Among the 95 pieces produced by Louis Cottier and Patek Philippe from 1939 to 1964, only 3 examples in yellow gold, with an enamel map depicting the entire globe, are known to have survived.
(Estimate: HK$5,000,000–10,000,000)

Alexander Bigler, Vice-President & Head of Watches Christie’s Asia Pacific, shared: “A treasure of this rarity and quality does not appear every season. This is one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” occasions, where we have the chance to discover and hold in our hands a tremendous timepiece. The rarity is phenomenal, and the condition is exquisite. The vibrancy and the playfulness of the colours are a delight, and only enamel can reflect this kind of beauty. A pocket watch of desire, for many savvy collectors, and the chance to secure a masterpiece of horology.”

Patek Philippe 605 Heures Universelles

Estimate: HK$5,000,000–10,000,000

Patek Philippe 605 ‘Heures Universelles’

The present yellow gold Ref. 605 HU is a superb and extremely well-preserved example of Patek Philippe’s world time watches with cloisonné enamel dial. 

Patek Philippe’s reference 605 HU (Heures Universelles) World Time dress watches with cloisonné enamel dial are among the most beautiful horological masterpieces of the marque’s 20th-century production. This reference was one of the earliest to be based on Louis Cottier’s world time system, and each watch was designed and made under Cottier’s direct supervision. 

From 1939 to 1964, Louis Cottier and Patek Philippe produced a total of 95 pieces, with 68 watches created in yellow gold and 27 in pink gold. The Reference 605 HU was available with a metal dial or a unique cloisonné enamel dial. Depending on the model, the latter depicted individual continents, hemispheres or even the entire planet, such as the present example.

Today, only 3 examples in yellow gold, with a cloisonné enamel rendering of a world map, are known to have survived. One is displayed at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, one in a private collection and one is being presented at auction for the first time at Christie’s in Hong Kong.

Masterfully crafted by the fabled enamellers Stern Frères, the dial of this watch is stamped with its movement number on its back, confirming that it had always been intended for this particular Ref. 605 HU. The present Reference 605 HU combines all the ingredients crucial to deserving the label “A collector’s dream come true”: a movement of the highest mechanical quality, a design of exceptional esthetical appeal – of extreme rarity and in excellent condition.

Patek Philippe 605 ‘Heures Universelles’

The Heures Universelles & Louis Cottier 

The world time or Heures Universelles mechanism was invented in 1931 by the celebrated Geneva watchmaker Louis Cottier (1894-1966). The technology was incorporated into watches by several of Switzerland’s leading watch firms, including Patek Philippe (ref. 605, 1415 and 2523), Vacheron Constantin (ref. 3372), Agassiz and Rolex (ref. 4262). Cottier further perfected the movement in 1953 with the ability to adjust the city disk via a secondary crown. This allowed Patek Philippe to patent a system in 1958 by which the hour hand could be moved without affecting the progression of the minute hand.

About Christie’s  
Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education.  Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).
Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a single collection sale (the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, 2018), and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019).
Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.
Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats.
Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.
Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: or by downloading Christie’s apps.
The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here
*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price – see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue.
*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.  

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.