‘A piece of American history in the palm of your hand’

Specialist Rebecca Ross on a ‘one of a kind’ timepiece produced to commemorate Charles Lindbergh becoming the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic, and Time Magazine’s inaugural ‘Man of the Year’

‘What’s so incredible about this watch is that it allows you to literally hold a piece of American history in the palm of your hand,’ says specialist Rebecca Ross, discussing a unique timepiece inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s historic 1927 journey across the Atlantic — to feature in Christie’s Rare Watches & Exceptional Complications sale in New York on 7 June 2016.

‘Charles Lindbergh was the first aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic, from New York to Paris, in a time of 33 ½ hours,’ Ross explains. The 5,800km journey was one that many aviators had died attempting to complete — their failed flights spurred on by a $25,000 prize, which French businessman Raymond Orteig promised to award to the first successful pilot. 

Milos & Diel watch case company. A fine, historically important and unique 14k white gold model airplane-form watch made for the mother of American aviator Charles Lindbergh. Estimate: $10,000-15,000. This lot is offered in Rare Watches & Exceptional Complications on 7 June at Christie's in New York

Lindbergh’s decision to fly alone was historic: ‘He realised during the construction of his plane that it was important to decrease weight, and decided that he would fly solo — something that no other aviator had been bold enough to do before. After his success, Lindbergh became the new American hero, awarded the medal of honour and becoming Time Magazine’s first “Man of the Year”.’

Manufacturers across America celebrated the aviator’s feat. ‘This timepiece is modelled very closely on the actual plane Lindbergh flew, the Spirit of St. Louis, and was offered to Lindbergh’s parents,’ explains the specialist. Made in 14-carat white gold, the aeroplane’s wing has an engraving which reads, ‘To commemorate your son’s solo flight in 1927.’

‘The detail on this palm-sized artifact is really incredible,’ says Ross. ‘To have found this timepiece in New York, for a heralded American aviator, is absolutely one of a kind.’


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