PHILIPPE DUFOUR. AN EXCEEDINGLY FINE, HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT AND UNIQUE 18K YELLOW GOLD MINUTE REPEATING GRANDE AND PETITE SONNERIE STRIKING WRISTWATCH WITH ENAMEL DIAL
PHILIPPE DUFOUR. AN EXCEEDINGLY FINE, HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT AND UNIQUE 18K YELLOW GOLD MINUTE REPEATING GRANDE AND PETITE SONNERIE STRIKING WRISTWATCH WITH ENAMEL DIAL
PHILIPPE DUFOUR. AN EXCEEDINGLY FINE, HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT AND UNIQUE 18K YELLOW GOLD MINUTE REPEATING GRANDE AND PETITE SONNERIE STRIKING WRISTWATCH WITH ENAMEL DIAL
2 More
PHILIPPE DUFOUR. AN EXCEEDINGLY FINE, HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT AND UNIQUE 18K YELLOW GOLD MINUTE REPEATING GRANDE AND PETITE SONNERIE STRIKING WRISTWATCH WITH ENAMEL DIAL
5 More
PHILIPPE DUFOURGRANDE & PETITE SONNERIE NO. 1 - A LEGEND OF INDEPENDENT WATCHMAKING
PHILIPPE DUFOUR. AN EXCEEDINGLY FINE, HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT AND UNIQUE 18K YELLOW GOLD MINUTE REPEATING GRANDE AND PETITE SONNERIE STRIKING WRISTWATCH WITH ENAMEL DIAL

SIGNED PHILIPPE DUFOUR, GRANDE AND PETITE SONNERIE MINUTE REPEATER MODEL, NO. 1, COMPLETED IN 1992

Details
PHILIPPE DUFOUR. AN EXCEEDINGLY FINE, HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT AND UNIQUE 18K YELLOW GOLD MINUTE REPEATING GRANDE AND PETITE SONNERIE STRIKING WRISTWATCH WITH ENAMEL DIAL
SIGNED PHILIPPE DUFOUR, GRANDE AND PETITE SONNERIE MINUTE REPEATER MODEL, NO. 1, COMPLETED IN 1992
Movement: Manual, bi-directional tandem winding, striking and repeating with two hammers on two gongs
Dial: White enamel
Case: 41 mm. diam., hinged back, selection slides for Hours & Quarters / Quarters Only and Strike / Silent in the band, co-axial minute repeating button in the crown
With: 18k gold buckle
Remark: Philippe Dufour’s first wristwatch and the first wristwatch ever made with a Grande & Petite Sonnerie minute repeating movement
Further details
SHOULD YOU WISH TO BID ON THIS LOT, YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO OBTAIN A HIGH VALUE PADDLE
Sale room notice
Please note that the estimate for this lot has now changed.
Please note that this lot is now subject to a minimum price guarantee, which has been financed through a third party and who may be receiving a fee.
Please see the Conditions of Sale for further information.

Brought to you by

Remi Guillemin
Remi Guillemin Head of Watches, Europe and Americas

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

It is Christie’s immense honour and pleasure to present one of the most important and historically significant highly complicated independently made wristwatches of the 20th century, the world’s first Grande and Petite sonnerie striking minute repeating wristwatch and the very watch that catapulted Philippe Dufour immediately to the forefront of independent watchmaking. This extraordinary timepiece, No. 1 of four examples made, (one example in each colour of gold and one in platinum), is not only distinguished as Philippe Dufour’s first wristwatch, but it also represents a historic first in the development of the mechanical wristwatch. Recognized by collectors as a quite remarkable and outstanding example of independent horology, in 2021 the present yellow gold No. 1 realized almost 5 million Swiss Francs and became the second most expensive independently made wristwatch ever sold. Philippe Dufour’s Grande and Petite sonnerie minute repeater can unquestionably be considered the ne plus ultra of handmade contemporary wristwatches.

An Appreciation of Philippe Dufour Grande & Petite Sonnerie Minute Repeater No. 1
The first wristwatch to be made under the Philippe Dufour name, the Grande and Petite sonnerie minute repeater is, unsurprisingly, regarded by Mr. Dufour himself as his greatest achievement. Remarkable for its user-friendly setting, a silent or strike mode can be employed with the slide at 2 o’clock, the slide at 4 o’clock provides the choice of either Grande or Petite sonnerie mode.

The Grande and Petite sonnerie complication is widely acknowledged to be the most difficult for any watchmaker to construct, however experienced. Indeed, François-Paul Journe, one of Philippe Dufour’s colleagues at the Académie des Horlogers et Créatures Indépendants (AHCI), a group of independent watchmakers collaborating to promote the art of artisanal watchmaking, was asked in 2008 what had been his greatest challenge as a watchmaker so far “The creation of the Grande Sonnerie watch was quite a challenge. The Grand Strike is the most complicated of all watch-making functions. My version required 10 patents and six years of research and development to make”. F.P. Journe’s statement underlines what a sensational feat Philippe Dufour had achieved a full 16 years earlier in not only making, but successfully miniaturizing, a Grande and Petite sonnerie minute repeater to a size that could be comfortably accommodated within the confines of a wristwatch.

Philippe Dufour’s motto “No Compromise, No Limit” has become a metaphor for his now well-known insistence upon absolute perfection in his watches, in this respect, the present watch speaks for itself. The case has a diameter of 41 mm. and exudes the impressive solidity of heavy gauge gold yet at the same time it has great elegance provided by the curved lugs and wide curved bezel. The slides for selection of sonnerie and silence are designed for ease of use yet remain entirely unobtrusive, as does the minute repeating button which is situated in the winding crown. The hinged back opens to reveal the movement which is protected by a glazed viewing cover in order to display the intricacy of the striking mechanism to maximum advantage. The dial is another essay in simple elegance, made of hard white enamel it features only Roman numerals, Breguet hands, subsidiary seconds and of course the Philippe Dufour signature. The beautifully simple external appearance of the watch belies the sheer wonder of the complexity within. With 35 jewels in countersunk settings, the movement displays Philippe Dufour’s now legendary ‘cotes de Gèneve’ striped decoration done entirely by hand, and the complex curves of the plates display his mastery of anglage. As a striking watch, the movement requires two trains, one for the going of the watch and one for the striking mechanism. Both trains are wound by the single crown with a bi-directional tandem winding system, the spring barrels have reversed clicks so that when one is being wound, the other disengages. The striking is provided by two hammers on two gongs, the tone is crisp, clear and superbly tuned. In Grande sonnerie mode, the hours and quarters are struck at every hour and every quarter. Petite sonnerie mode strikes the hours and quarters only on the hour with only the quarters at the quarter hour. The minute repeating which sounds the last hour, quarter and elapsed minutes since the quarter, is activated whenever required by pressing the button in the winding crown.

Philippe Dufour Grande & Petite Sonnerie Minute Repeater Sold at Auction:

Yellow gold, no. 1, Phillips Geneva, 5 & 7 November, 2021, lot 14, sold CHF 4,749,000. The Present Watch, the second most expensive independently made wristwatch ever sold.

White gold, no. 2, Christie’s Geneva, 12 May 2008, lot 328, sold CHF 457,000. The first example to be offered at auction 15 years ago.

Pink gold, no. 3, London auction via ‘A Collected Man’, 16 August 2021, sold US$ 7,630,000. The most expensive independently made wristwatch ever sold.

PHILIPPE DUFOUR
Regarded as a living legend, and without doubt one of the most revered ambassadors for the very best independent watchmaking, Philippe Dufour’s philosophy of “no compromise, no limit” has been the guiding star of his 45-year career as an independent watchmaker. Indeed, it would perhaps be more accurate to describe Philippe Dufour’s devotion to the design and creation of wristwatches as a vocation, a natural calling to which he has devoted his life and in so doing has made an incalculable contribution to the advancement of the art and craft of high-precision watchmaking.

For Philippe Dufour, perfection is paramount, in his workshop in the village of Solliat in the Vallée de Joux, each watch is made entirely by hand, often with traditional vintage hand tools, to the most exacting standards of craftsmanship imaginable. Every watch is directly commissioned by the client and with a total output of only 15 to 18 watches per year, a Philippe Dufour wristwatch represents a complex mechanical masterpiece that presents the very definition of true luxury, its design an aesthetic holy grail of simplicity.

Born in Switzerland in 1948, Philippe Dufour graduated from the Ecole d’Horlogerie de la Vallée de Joux in 1967 and in the same year was employed by Jaeger-LeCoultre. However, his personal horological journey followed in the footsteps of several of the great modern watchmaking geniuses including George Daniels and François Paul Journe, by the repair and restoration of antique pocket watches. Such was his reputation for excellence that in 1982, Philippe Dufour was commissioned by Audemars Piguet to create five Grande Sonnerie pocket watch movements, the last of which was delivered in 1988.

A year later, using his mastery of the Grande Sonnerie complication, Philippe Dufour began the wristwatch that was to be a pivotal moment in the recognition of his supreme watchmaking talent and in the establishment of the Philippe Dufour brand. This seminal wristwatch was the first in the world to be successfully fitted with a Grande and Petite Sonnerie minute repeater movement, one of the most challenging of all watch complications for a watchmaker to construct and, within the confined space of a wristwatch case, quite unprecedented. Borne of the desire to create something that had never been achieved before, after two and a half years in the making, the Grande Sonnerie was presented at Baselworld in 1992.

Following the success of that extraordinary world's first, Philippe Dufour developed and made yet another. His next wristwatch model, christened ‘Duality’ was launched in 1996 and was the first wristwatch to have a double escapement. The movement is constructed with two balance wheels compensated with a central differential gear, a system based on the principle that the differential averages out the errors between the two escapements and reduces potential errors by half. Only nine examples of ‘Duality’ were ever made.

At Baselworld in 2000, Philippe Dufour introduced the model that is perhaps best known to collectors, ‘Simplicity’. A distillation of Mr. Dufour’s endless quest for perfection, the model was originally created to satisfy the high demand for his watches in Japan, it is the only current production model. Around 200 have so far been made in either gold or platinum and it is in such demand that no more orders can be fulfilled.

Philippe Dufour was unanimously awarded the 2013 Special Jury Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. Following this exceptional honour, he was invited to become one of the members of the Jury where his decades of experience at the very highest levels of watchmaking make his contribution invaluable.

More from Passion for Time - An Important Private Collection of Watches and Timepieces

View All
View All