Timepiecesspanning from 1760 to 2015 brought Sotheby’s its highest-ever total for a ‘various-owner’ sale of Important Watches in New York, achieving $12.5 million (sale estimate $6.5–10 million) with a very strong 88.8% of lots sold.
The centerpiece of the auction was a magnificent private collection of 22 Swiss enameled automata that together brought $6.1 million / CHF 5.7 million / HK$47.5 million (collection estimate $2.3–3.6 million). The collection offered the finest examples from the golden age of Swiss watchmaking during the Industrial Revolution, when noted makers such as Jaquet-Droz and Piguet & Meylan married technology and artistry to create miraculous objects in miniature.
Katharine Thomas, Head of Sotheby’s Watch Department in New York, commented: “Today’s sale offered top-quality examples from every category driving today’s watch market, and collectors responded enthusiastically from all corners of the globe. From the collection of historically important Swiss automata created at the turn of the 19th century, to incredibly rare vintage timepieces by iconic firms like Patek Philippe, to ultra-modern watches embracing 21st century innovation, it was a well-rounded offering and we are thrilled with the benchmark results.”
This season, the New York Watches Department is thrilled to offer a variety of the highest quality timepieces in our upcoming June sale. The focus of the sale is on the fine and rare collection of Swiss Mechanical Marvels. Many of these Swiss Mechanical Marvels were unseen for generations and created by preeminent artists of the late-18th and early-19th century such as Jacquet-Droz and Piguet & Meylan, as well as the gold box maker Jean George Rémond. As luxury toys of their day, they were a sign of wealth and epitomized Swiss technological and creative genius, that was desired throughout Europe, Turkey, India and the Imperial Court in China. This collection is highlighted by The Singing Bird Scent Flask: A gold enamel pearl and gem set scent flask with a singing bird and timepiece made specifically for the Chinese market circa 1790. Music is played from the bird through a miniature six pipe organ. The bird realistically moves his beak, swivels his body and moves its tail up and down. It is covered in enamel and jewels, and is centered by a recession medallion with a magnificent scene with varicolored gold sculpture representing a branch with leaves of which the bird is perched atop. A Rare Gold, Jeweled and Pearl Automaton Caterpillar: A lever on the side of the red and blue enamel caterpillar activates all 11 jointed segments create a realistic crawling motion, moving the body up and down and forwards. It was created for the Chinese market circa 1820.
Leading the vintage timepieces are two rare Patek Philippe watches. The Ref 605HU world time in pink gold with enamel dial featuring North America is a sight to behold. In addition, we are thrilled to feature a Reference 1463 in yellow gold with Breguet numerals.
Rounding out the sale is a vast collection of modern and contemporary watch makers including a selection of Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks, IWCs, Jaeger LeCoultre, and a Richard Mille 59-01 Johan Blake Tourbillon.