Hong Kong - Presenting over 570 lots with a pre-sale estimate of HK$80 million (US$ 10.5 million), Christie’s Spring auction of Important Watches on June 2 marks its largest and most valuable ever offered in Hong Kong, with top examples offered from makers such as Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Cartier, Patek Philippe, Rolex, Ulysse Nardin, and Vacheron Constantin.
Leading the sale is The Millennium Collection, a selection of over 170 of the finest and most technically-intricate watches ever assembled in a single private collection. Valued at HK$13 million (US$1.7 million), this collection was assembled over the last decade by a passionate connoisseur with an eye for only the finest in horology design. Forming the cornerstone of this season’s auction, this collection will offer today’s discerning collectors the opportunity to acquire truly inspiring creations of horological ingenuity.
The Millennium Collection:
A Connoisseur’s Passion
The Millennium Collection stands as a unique selection of some of the world’s finest horological creations. Assembled over the past decade with an eye for the finest that modern and contemporary horology can offer, this collection demonstrates the collector’s keen knowledge of technological innovation and deep admiration of excellence in craftsmanship. Each of the 175 timepieces included in this landmark private collection underscore the clear strategy of this collector – to focus on the intricacies of complications. The result is a collection that will resonate strongly with today’s discriminating watch collectors who will recognize the cohesive and fundamental philosophy which guided the collection. The criteria for inclusion in the collection were strict, and the collector’s eye for quality and rarity was truly exacting. Each timepiece had to be extraordinary in some manner - be it the exquisiteness of the design or the novelty of its mechanism. At the same time, each watch has to solicit an immediate intellectual and emotional response as well as appeal to the aesthetic sense. The result is a collection of timepieces unlike any other on the auction block in recent memory and a celebration of the visual and mechanical qualities of some of the world’s finest watch manufacturers. A particular focus is on the intricacies of mechanical complications, with key examples such as the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon 1, Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Grand Sonnerie Dynamograph and the Richard Mille RM002.
Leading the collection is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Gyrotourbillon 1, a piece that exemplifies the collector’s fascination with the collaboration between engineering and design (estimate: HK$1,550,000-2,350,000 /US$ 200,000 – 300,000, illustrated left). At the heart of its fascinating fusion of engineering and design is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 177 which combines the world’s first spherical multi-axis tourbillon, a running equation of time, 8 days power reserve and a perpetual calendar equipped with four retrograde hands. Blending contemporary style and mechanics, only 75 pieces of this masterpiece were made, with an annual production limited up to 20 pieces.
Audemars Piguet is one of the oldest watch manufacturers still under ownership by the founding family. This dedication to tradition ensures the quality of craftsmanship and the attention to detail of the timepieces produced. To commemorate the 125th anniversary of the company’s founding, the Jules Audemars Dynamograph was created as part of the Classic Collection (estimate: HK$620,000-950,000 / US$80,000 – 120,000, illustrated right). An example of technical finesse, this model brings the minute-repeating complication to another level as it provides a real-time indication of the mainspring’s winding stress, hence allowing optimum performance of the strike modes. Other unique features include a ‘Silence’ setting on the crown which mutes the chiming of the sonnerie, as well as a power-reserve indicator for the mainspring so that the repeater complication is not set off when there is insufficient power. With its 400 hand-finished parts and resonating three-gong carillon chime, the Jules Audemars Dynamograph is a charming and fitting timepiece to epitomise the 125 years of the technical and aesthetic creativity of Audemars Piguet.
Also leading The Millennium Collection is the Richard Mille RM002 (estimate: HK$550,000-800,000 / US$ 70,000 – 100,000, illustrated left), an avant-garde timepiece that gives a refreshing take on the traditional complications of the tourbillon and skeletonised functions. Known for employing unconventional manmade materials and pushing watch making to its limits, Richard Mille is one of the most sought-after contemporary watchmakers. The RM002 is a superb example of technical and inventive virtuosity. The unusual use of materials is noticeable at first glance – the movement plate is cut from carbon nano-fibre and parts are made of ceramic and titanium so as to reduce friction. This uniqueness is carried through to the construction of the tourbillon whereby the movement has been reassembled, so that the exposed gear trains become a focus and are held in place by specially-designed screws. Drawing inspiration from the mechanics of Formula 1 automobiles, the RM002 features a speedometer-like power reserve and torque indicators, as well as setting and winding modes that can be set like a gear box.
The Legendary Patek Philippe 5002P
Leads Various-Owner Selection This Season
Patek Philippe remains as the ultimate name for watch collections today and this season Christie’s Hong Kong will present a range of important timepieces from this leading maker. Among the star lots is the Patek Philippe Reference 5002P. With a pre-sale estimate of HK$6.5- 10 million (US$ 830,000-1.28 million, illustrated right), this watch stands as the most valuable timepiece ever offered by Christie’s in Asia. Known as the Sky Moon Tourbillon, the Reference 5002P is the most complicated wristwatch ever produced by Patek Philippe and regarded by many as the finest watch in existence. It features an auspicious 686 parts which come together to form 12 of the most significant horological complications: the tourbillon, perpetual calendar, moon age, leap year cycle, day of the week, month, date, fly back, minute repeater, sky chart, moon phases and orbit. As befitting a magnum opus of this technical complexity and ingenious design, only one out of the 180 master watchmakers at Patek Philippe is able to create this reference. The presence of this watch at auction marks the ultimate opportunity for collectors at the very highest level.
Patek Philippe’s Grand Complication Sky Moon Celestial Reference 5102J in yellow gold (estimate HK$1,300,000-1,600,000/ US$ 167,000-205,000, illustrated left) embraces the spirit of innovation and sophistication of the Sky Moon Tourbillon, displaying the same configuration of the nocturnal sky with the movement of the stars, the position of the moon, and its progressing phases within a lunar cycle. Where the Celestial wristwatch differs, however, is that it allows the wearer to admire the progression of the stars while observing the mean time on his wrist.
Also from Patek Philippe comes the one of the most elegant and subtle of the maker’s grand complication timepieces: the Reference 3939HP (estimate: HK$2,350,000-4,000,000 / US$300,000-500,000, illustrated right). Boasting timeless style, the Ref 3939HP, eschews the contemporary trend for larger dials, measuring 34 mm in diameter – a remarkable achievement for such a technically sophisticated timepiece. This is also one of the few Patek Philippe references to feature an enamel dial, the lustre of which is accentuated by the classical custom-made, and possibly unique Breguet-style numerals and Pomme hands. In the standard model, original Breguet numerals are in applied metal. In this present lot, however, the owner requested a more distinctive mien for his dial, hence the defined bold black gold numerals which make this timepiece even more desirable.
A further highlight from the range of Patek Philippe timepieces offered this season is the Reference 5004R (estimate: HK$1,400,000-1,900,000/ US$ 180,000-240,000, illustrated left), the most complicated model in Patek Philippe's line of stopwatches. The movement consists of no fewer than 407 miniscule parts and is based on an ébauche crafted by Nouvelle Lemania exclusively for Patek Philippe. The classical design also houses a perpetual calendar with 24-hour display, a precision moon phase mechanism and a patented split seconds disengagement mechanism that is capable of measuring elapsed time with accuracy to the fraction of a second.
Among the season’s opulent jeweled timepieces is the Piaget Aura (estimate: HK$800,000-1,300,000 / US$100,000-170,000, illustrated right), a timepiece that houses a precise mechanical movement and is set entirely from dial to clasp in high grade diamonds and rubies. The lustre of the 18k yellow gold brings out the brilliance of the diamonds and the fire of the rubies, and despite the preciousness of the materials used, the craftsmanship of Piaget has ensured that the bracelet remains semi-articulated, sitting elegantly and comfortably on the most delicate of wrists.
A perennial favourite among collectors of all levels, Rolex is a maker that features most prominently in Christie’s sales of important watches season upon season. The Spring auction will present over 65 timepieces from the maker, including a rare appearance this season of all five different versions of the Daytona Reference 16520. These present lots offer collectors an opportunity to review the evolution of the five different versions of the dial in Marks 1 to 5. It is possibly the first time that all versions of the dial have been put up for auction simultaneously.
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: www.christies.com or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.