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The growing interest in watches at auction suggests timepieces are being considered miniature works of art, sought after for their technical and aesthetic beauty as much as for their investment value. No watches better exemplify this notion than Patek Philippe’s miniature enamel timepieces.
Earlier this year, Christie’s New York had the pleasure of offering a mint 18k gold hunter case pocket watch, featuring a miniature enamel scene of Renoir’s Two Sisters. Executed in 1984, this watch was enamelled by Suzanne Rohr, recognised as the modern era’s greatest practioner of the traditional Swiss technique.
Patek Philippe. A unique and very fine 18k gold hunter case keyless lever pocket watch with enamel miniature after Pierre-August Renoir by Suzanne Rohr with original presentation box. Sold for: $353,000 on 17 June 2015
Looking at this watch through a high-powered loupe (magnifier) you can see the fine detail of the enamel, which fully brings to life the spirit of Renoir’s original painting. Rohr used hog’s-bristle brushes to paint each stroke in the style of Renoir — sometimes even using a single bristle to replicate the detail of the original work of art. This perfection is what defines Patek Philippe — whether in the decoration of the brand’s watch cases or the finish of its mechanical movements.
The watch market is attracting new collectors who, upon seeing pieces like this, witness first-hand the art involved in watchmaking, case-making and enamelling. Personally, I consider these objects among the most covetable possessions in the world; I cannot wait to show new horological ‘discoveries’ in our auctions in 2016.
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