In case travel restrictions kept you from the experiencing the thrilling moments at the Sotheby's Hong Kong Spring Sales, we've put together a summary of the high points of the week from the Magnificent Jewels, Important Watches, and two landmark single-owner wine auctions.
Two Fancy Vivid Heart-Shaped Gems Lead in Jewelry Sale
Two exceptionally rare fancy vivid color diamonds together achieved a sum of HK$144.8 million (US$18.7 million) at the Magnificent Jewels sale (10 July, Hong Kong). Offered separately, the top lot was a Fancy Vivid Blue heart-shaped diamond ring weighing 5.04 carat, presented from an important private collection. This stunning gem of rich azure hue fetched a price of HK$81.8 million (US$10.6 million). The second was an internally flawless Fancy Vivid pink diamond, sitting at 4.49 carats and possessed of a spectacularly bewitching pink color. It realized more than HK$63 million (US$8.1 million) at the auction. Both jewels are truly an exquisite display of nature’s finest.
The sale of the two rare diamonds were part of an impressive auction of jewelry that brought in a total sale of HK$437.7 million (US$56.5 million). It strongly suggests the high demand for top quality jewelry in the region.
“The [auction] results are a clear indication that the appetite for top quality jewels in Asia remains undiminished. The hottest color diamonds in the most romantic of cuts and settings proved irresistible, with the pair of fancy vivid pink and blue rings taking top billing as the stars of the show."
Leading the Fine Jadeite Market
We're certainly seeing renewed international interest in fine jadeite, with collectors from not only Asia but all over the world. This is evidenced by the sale of a remarkable imperial green jadeite bead necklace, among the most luxurious pieces a collector could aspire to obtain. To date, the lot is the largest jadeite bead necklace receiving a special Gubelin certificate for its imperial jade quality, and after a bidding war between five determine phone bidders, it went under the hammer for a stunning HK$80.7 million (US$10.4 million). Composed of 37 beads of notable size, the jadeite necklace represents a perfect celebration of the material, which is a singular miracle of nature. The sale also featured a selection of the finest jadeite jewelry with gemstone quality that meets world-class standards and timeless design that surpasses cultural boundaries.
Getting a Glimpse of a Jewel's Royal Past
A Victorian diamond and enamel bracelet bestowed upon Princess Margaret to celebrate her 21st birthday dazzled at auction. This bracelet is signed by Garrard, the London-based jeweler to the British crown, and Princess Margaret had appeared wearing the bracelet many times in public, indicating her affinity for the piece.
"For a couple of years now, young and established collectors in the region have shown a growing interest in jewels with a royal connection and steeped in European history," said Wenhao Yu, Deputy Chairman of Jewellery, Sotheby's Asia. "This was confirmed at auction, as we saw fierce competition from bidders around the world for Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday bracelet."
Indeed, the bracelet stirred up an intense battle between phone and online bidder, and finally sold for more than HK$1.6 million (US$210,000), far beyond its high estimate.
Two Landmark Single-Owner Sales a Smashing Success at Series Open
Hong Kong 2020 Spring Auction series kicked off with two exceptional single-owner wine sales on 5-6 July and, combined with the Finest & Rarest Wines and Spirits (7 July, Hong Kong), and concluded with a total of more than HK$177 million (US$22.9 million) against a pre-sale estimate of HK$120-169 million (US$15-22 million). This exceptional result marks the third highest-value wine sale series ever held in Asia, and the combination of an exceptional total and performance against estimates put Sotheby’s in pole position as the market leader in the region.
“Whether live or online, out of Hong Kong, New York or London, our sales this year have proven that the appetite for wine transcends geographical boundaries, as collectors across different time zones are prepared to place their winning bids by any means. These [results] puts Sotheby’s in pole position as the clear market leader in the region, with a long-standing reputation for sourcing the world’s top wines from the most prestigious collections.”
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Reigns Supreme
The top lot was a Methuselah sized (six-liter) bottle of Romanée Conti 1999 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which fetched HK$2.1 million (US$272,100), double its estimate. This was part of sale "The Summit, a Complete Cellar" (5-6 July, Hong Kong), featuring an extraordinary collection from an American collector who assembled the wines over three decades through a deep passion for gastronomy and extensive travel. The 1,534-lot auction was held across two days, coming to a grand sale total of HK$123 million (US$16 million) with 93 percent sold. While Domaine de la Romanée-Conti continued to reign supreme, dominating the top prices, leading the selection of Rhône wines was a case of Ermitage Cuvée Cathelin 1990, which sold for HK$992,000 (US$128,000).
High Demand for Mature Bordeaux
Magnificent Bordeaux were presented from The Cellar of Sir Dickson Poon (6 July, Hong Kong),
superb wines collected by a renowned international businessman whose close links with the United Kingdom allowed him to source great quantities of the finest Bordeaux. The 498-lot auction tallied HK$19 million (US$2.5 million) and was 98 percent sold. Demand for mature Bordeaux was demonstrated by the top lot, 12-bottle case of Petrus 1970, which sold for HK$297,600 (US$38,387), as well as a 12-bottle offering of Haut Brion 1961 that exceeded the high estimate to bring in HK$235,600 (US$30,390).
Extremely Rare Rolex Daytona Sets a New Auction Record
At the Important Watches auction, which tallied a sale total of HK$117 million (US$15 million), the headliner of the sale was aRolex Platinum Zenith Daytona with Hardstone Lapis Lazuli Dial. For years, Rolex only produced automatic powered Daytonas in stainless steel, yellow gold, white gold, and steel and gold cases. It was said the late Patrick Heiniger, the CEO of Rolex, wore a platinum automatic Daytona, having made only four in platinum cases as special gifts. It remained a rumor until recent years. Manufactured in 1999, this singular platinum Daytona, reference 16516, bears a lapis lazuli hardstone dial, and is the only known one of its kind. After a seven-minute bidding battle among phone and online bidders, this never-before-seen watch was sold at an astonishing sum of HK$25.4 million (US$3.3 million), which is six times higher than its pre-sale estimate. This sets a new auction record for an automatic Rolex Daytona, three times the previous record set also by Sotheby’s Hong Kong in October 2018.
In the sale, the selection of eleven Rolex Automatic Daytonas offered were 100 percent sold. This includes a Cosmograph Daytona, Reference 6263, with UAE Quraysh Hawk Dial made for Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, which sold for HK$2.3 million (US$290,000).
Strong Showing for Independent Watchmakers
A legend among the world of horology and arguably the greatest living watchmaker, Philippe Dufour creates watches with only his hands and not relying on any modern technology used for mass production. For a certain type of collector, Philippe's Dufour's Simplicity might be considered the holy grail of timepieces. Made in 2011, the Simplicity white gold wristwatch, sold to an online bidder for HK$2.3 million (US$290,000).
Greubel Forsey stunned the world of watchmaking when they introduced GMT Earth, inventing a truly unique way to display the world and its time, and a very special three dimensional globe with a 24-hour indicator that rotates as the earth turns. The GMT pink gold wristwatch, circa 2014, sold for HK$1.8 million (US$226,000).
MB&F's Legacy Machine 2 is a marvel of alternative horology, designed in collaboration with genius independent watchmakers Kari Voutilainen and Jean-François Mojon. The watch features an unheard-of complication known as planetary differential, a system which allows two suspended balance wheels to beat at their own natural rate with the differential supplying the average of the two completely independent frequencies. The Legacy Machine 2 platinum wristwatch, circa 2015, sold for HK$812,500 (US$104,837).
Ressence and Sotheby’s Join Forces Against Coronavirus
The winner from Ressence Watch Design Charity Competition, Type 1 Slim “Ayrton & Finley”, achieved HK$375,000 (US$48,386) at the Important Watches auctions. The timepiece is a completely unique watch inspired by the winning design of the #WatchAgainstCovid19 competition launched by Ressence and Sotheby's back in April. Proceeds of the sale will benefit the Covid-19 Research Programme of The KU Leuven and UZ Leuven Universities.