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The single-owner “Champion Collection”, which Christie’s is extremely proud to offer in a series of themed sales over the 2022 auction season, is almost unrivalled in its wide variety of brands and wristwatch models of the highest calibre. This auction, entitled “The Artistry of Complications”, is incredibly exciting in that it offers not only many of the world’s most complicated watches by the greatest watch brands and independent makers, but it is also unique in including models that have never been seen before at auction, and in some cases, their existence was virtually unknown to collectors. A significant number of these incredible pieces, in particular by Patek Philippe, were produced in minute quantities and were only available to trusted clients by personal invitation.
Many of the complications we see in contemporary wristwatches today were in fact, invented centuries ago. Pocket watches with complications can be traced back to at least the 16thcentury when, although accurate timekeeping itself was not essential, early watchmakers nevertheless included functions such as moon phases, calendars, seasons, and zodiac amongst other astronomical indications, that were of more practical use to the scientists and astronomers of the time. A wristwatch such as Patek Philippe’s “Sky Moon Tourbillon” reference 5002R in this auction, can be seen to represent the culmination and ultimate realisation of over 400 years of watchmaking knowledge, perfectly capturing the enduring relationship between humans, the Earth, and the Universe.
In terms of wristwatches, the complications that have become classics and which have serious practical uses and advantages even today, are the perpetual calendar, the chronograph, minute repeating, and the tourbillon. All invented in the 18th and 19th centuries, these complications, either separately or together in one wristwatch, are true horology. The great achievement of the best wristwatch manufacturers has been to continually strive to overcome the difficulties of reducing the sizes of these highly complex mechanisms, to fit within the confines of the wristwatch and to invent new manufacturing methods to improve existing complications, whilst at the same time always bearing in mind the design and beauty of their pieces.
The “Champion Collection” is an incredible treasure trove of the world’s most complicated contemporary wristwatches and includes examples of almost every great horological complication.
Such an important collection of exceptional complicated watches is almost never seen together in a single moment, and thus, the “Champion Collection” offers collectors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to admire some of the greatest achievements of the watchmaker’s art.
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