Sotheby's Specialists Choose the Most Exquisite Timepieces

Sotheby's Specialists Choose the Most Exquisite Timepieces


T he highly anticipated Important Watches sale (11 July, Hong Kong) features 313 lots, offering a superb selection of chronometers from Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Rolex, Philippe Dufour and more. Within this abundance of spectacular watches, Sotheby’s watch specialists choose and share the timepieces that have caught their eyes. John Chan discusses the singular aesthetics and features of unique Rolex watches, Joey Luk introduces luxurious watches that showcase enameling of the highest level, and Bryan Li selects alternative timepieces of idiosyncratic design.

The Rolex Allure

John Chan discusses the singular aesthetics and features of unique Rolex watches. Scroll through the selection below to discover fascinating history behind these watches.

Alternative Horology

Bryan Li selects alternative timepieces of idiosyncratic design, which deliver innovative and often futuristic visions of horology. Click on the slideshow below to see the timepieces that take watch design to the next level.

Enamel Works of Art

Joey Luk highlights timepieces that display enamel work of the highest craftsmanship, paintings in miniature that elevate these watches to veritable works of art. Browse the examples below to see works of stunning beauty.

Vacheron Constantin Le Cabinotiers with Champlevé Enamel Dial Depicting Koi Fish

Master Enamelist Laurent from Vacheron Constantin designed the dial, drawing inspiration from katanas and tsuba engravings from Edo period Japan. The champlevé enameling technique used here is masterfully executed, with vibrant colors of autumn leaves, delicate engraving that details fine fish scales, and an sense of translucence that make the koi appear as if they were underwater. The result is absolutely stunning.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso À Eclipse with Enamel Dial Depicting the Port of Singapore

The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso was first introduced in the 1930s and has become an iconic model for the brand. The watch pays homage to Singapore and is numbered one of five pieces only. Often with enameling technique, the enamelists will create a miniature of an existing painting. In this case, this is an original panoramic scene depicting the Port of Singapore from the harbor. The wearer can also close the shutter as if the watch were a window, and hide from view this beautiful scene under gold panels.

Jaeger LeCoultre Reverso "Four Seasons"

Jaeger LeCoultre's enameling master Miklos Merczel created these four watches after The Four Seasons, paintings by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha. Each of these four limited-edition watches represent one of the four seasons, portrayed as a lady in the representative color of the season, and richly detailed. These are painted to a very high standard, where you can see even the finest detail. Such miniature enameling is difficult to work with and requires of painstaking layered process of painting and re-firing. The reverso was introduced as a design for people who play polo, which enables the player to wear the watch in reverse in order to protect the dial.

Patek Philippe World Time Wristwatches

Reference 5131 is an important reference, which caused an sensation among collectors and connoisseurs. The cloisonné enamel dial depict maps of Asia, North America, and Europe. The lasting interest in the model is shown by the extensive customer waiting list for it. Originally only available in yellow gold with a map of the Americas, the model was later introduced in white gold, pink gold and platinum. In the current sale we have the Reference 5131 in yellow, white, and pink gold, featuring respectively maps of the Americas, Europe-Asia-Africa-Oceania, and Asia-Oceania. The reference is a rare one as very few are produced every year due to the difficulty and amount of time required to create hand-made enamel dials, and because of that very nature, each dial could be considered unique.

Patek Philippe "Les Faisans" Gilt Brass Yable Clock
Patek Philippe dome clocks are one of the most collectible creations of the Patek Philippe universe. Characterized by their cylindrical form, spherical top and often found finely decorated with traditional artisanal techniques such as cloisonné enamels. The enamelist A. M. Secretan finely displays Patek Philippe’s strength in merging fine art with watchmaking. Patek Philippe would often create scenery from different themes such as horses or other animals. Here the theme is pheasants or “Les Faisans,” with cloisonné enamel panels decorated with marvelously colored pheasants amid the background of a hazy morning in a summer forest.

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Patek Philippe Platinum Watch with Cloisonné Dial Depicting Tropical Fish

Patek Philippe is particularly skilled in the art of cloisonné, which uses very fine gold filaments to outline and partition the enamel. To bring an enamel painting to life, the filaments are painstakingly molded, hammered and set to the shape of the artisan's desire. This process is painstaking and requires delicate handling. The four watches in these series present the theme of fish, depicting pairs of butterfly fish or clownfish swimming along in the tropical sea. The colors are delightful and vibrant, showing the highest level of enamel craftsmanship.

Jaquet Droz Minute Repeating Wristwatch with Automation Birds

The limited-edition Bird Repeater watch depicts a family of hand-painted Blue Tits nesting over the scenic valley of the Jura region in Switzerland. When activated the eggs will crack open, and the birds will feed the little chicks. Other animated elements include a moving waterfall made of mother-of-pearl water, representing the second wheel. It is a fun piece.

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Watches Hong Kong Spring Auctions

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