Geneva’s May auctions are always an exciting happening. Usually, Spring has touched the cosmopolitan city by then, with flowers and tree’s blooming, warmer weather, and when you combine that with some of the most extraordinary vintage watches coming up for auction, you know why Geneva Airport is challenged by the great influx of private jets coming flying in.
As always the diversity of the different lot’s makes it appealing to nearly any type of collector. Christie‘s is auctioning Monday, for example, a “super-accurate” competition chronometer wristwatch movement. Cased more like a pocket watch for easy handling, this movement participated in what can be seen as the Formula 1 of watchmaking. Fitted with a Guillaume balance, this caliber 30 GD participated in accuracy competitions of the Neuchâtel Observatoire. It comes complete with prize certificates for 1960, 1964, 1966 and 1967, so you know that we have a winner on our hands.
Prototypes turn up for auction on occasion, but not that often are they made by Rolex. This Rolex Submariner is extra special as it is one of three prototypes known to have been made in white gold! Reference 1680 was launched at the end of the 1960’s and is best known for being the first Submariner with a date function. It was also the first Submariner to be available in yellow gold. What makes this watch even more special is that it has a blue “nipple” dial, a uniquely designed, bi-directional bezel, and it is fitted with a white gold President bracelet with bark finish. This makes this Rolex not only exceedingly rare, but also very striking, and one of those watches you expect to exceed the top estimate of CHF 500.000,-
Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia was an avid watch enthusiast, and this Patek Philippe Ref. 2497 was gifted to him by Ing. Federico Bazzi, and Italian aviation pioneer who lived in Eritrea (back then a federation with Ethiopia, later a part of it) when the emperor paid an official visit to Switzerland in 1954. Unique about this perpetual calendar is that it is fitted with “Alpha” hands, which makes this watch most likely the only ref.2497 with this type of hand. The case back showed the monogram of His Majesty Haile Selassie, and what is most remarkable is that the watch seems to be in an all original and untouched condition. This will be especially appreciated by connoisseurs who are looking for a Ref.2497 as original as possible.
Up until five years ago this very special Rolex Cosmograph Daytona “Paul Newman” was still in the hands of the original owner. It is now being sold by the second owner, a passionate collector, and quite a rare piece as it features a topical lemon dial. This watch is a true testimony to the power of tropical dials. On this Paul Newman, the background of the dial has faded to a “lemon” color, complimenting the yellow gold case. Even more so, the black elements of the dial have turned into a deep chocolate brown, making the looks of this watch incredible striking.
Another rarity is the Patek Philippe Ref. 530, with a case made out of “Staybrite” stainless steel. This watch is only one of three of this reference known with a black dial. The reason for its rarity is two-fold. This reference was sold between 1938 and 1943, in the midst of WWII, which would have suppressed demand, while the black dial was only available as a special order. Its relatively large diameter of 36.5 mm also makes it very desirable, as this is the perfect size for this watch, making the dial all the more impressive.
Christie’s auction “Rare watches and a Rolex Afternoon” will take place at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues on May 15 in Geneva