Specialist Picks: 10 Notable Timepieces From The Hong Kong Sales

Specialist Picks: 10 Notable Timepieces From The Hong Kong Sales

From Cartier and Patek Philippe to Vacheron Constantin and Richard Mille, Joey Luk selects her top picks from Important Watches I.
From Cartier and Patek Philippe to Vacheron Constantin and Richard Mille, Joey Luk selects her top picks from Important Watches I.

S pring is unfolding around the northern hemisphere, and with it a new slate of fascinating watch auctions from Sotheby’s. On the agenda from Hong Kong is Important Watches I taking place on 7 April, with plenty of remarkable and historically significant timepieces set to be showcased.

In our latest specialist’s round-up, we spoke with Joey Luk, Sotheby’s Asia Head of Department, Watches, who led the curation for this exceptional auction. From iconic classics with notable twists to extremely rare unique timepieces, Luk handpicked incredible watches from Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Voutilainen, Richard Mille, Patek Philippe, and Rolex for us to take special care in highlighting as new treasures for esteemed collectors.

Cartier Paris "Cloche"

Leading Luk’s picks is the Cartier Paris “Cloche”, a unique piece from the iconic maison. The original “Cloche” was first introduced in the 1920s, then noted for its distinctive shape reminiscent of a bell, or cloche in French. With a dial turned 90 degrees and the bell shape continuing to its railroad minute track, the watch in its historic forms has balanced speaking to Cartier’s signatures while presenting itself as a distinct embodiment of the brand’s horological style.

Produced exclusively as a one of one for the thematic auction “The Magical Art of Cartier” in 1996, this timepiece features several unique elements. A platinum case provides the material construction for its iconic bell shape, while a distinct handset alongside a silvered guilloche dial with “CARTIER PARIS” printed upon it in place of traditional Roman numerals transforms the wristwatch into rare and highly collectible piece.

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Perpetual Calendar Reference 30020

Following the Cartier, Luk selected the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Perpetual Calendar ref 30020. Drawing inspiration from the coveted vintage Reference 4261, the watch stands as an important homage to the brand’s legacy.

First produced in the mid-1990s as part of a run of 200 examples distinguished between traditional and skeletonised dials, the watch is quick to draw the attention of serious collectors with its elegant yellow gold case, extremely charming dial, and the sophistication of a minute repeater paired with a perpetual calendar.

Vacheron Constantin Métiers d'Art Kalla Haute Couture A Secret

In another breathtaking fusion of haute joaillerie and haute horlogerie, Luk’s second selection from Vacheron Constantin exemplifies the manufacture’s prowess in creating pieces that are as much incredible jewelry as they are prestigious timekeepers.

The Vacheron Constantin Métiers d'Art Kalla Haute Couture A Secret Reference17625 is encased in white gold and lavishly set with diamonds to present a fascinating bracelet watch. Produced in the late 2010s and with a design history originally drawing from the 1980s, the Kalla Haute masterpiece features approximately 27-28 carats of diamonds each G to H in colour and VS in clarity. Its concealed dial features a time-only display, keeping the focus on the mastery of gem selection and setting for this extraordinary timepiece.

Voutilainen Chronograph Masterpiece, No. 8

Representing the pinnacle of handmade watchmaking, timepieces from the renowned Finnish watchmaker Kari Voutilainen are some of the most coveted among collectors of independents. In the Voutilainen Chronograph Masterpiece, No. 8, this is even more so.

The namesake Masterpiece is a white gold testament to the brand's commitment to excellence, with a characteristic case, engine-turned asymmetric dial, and captivating movement that together results in a timepiece that is as technically impressive as it is beautiful.

Richard Mille “Bonbon”, Reference RM16-01 Fraise

Often serving as the arbiter of the avant-garde, Richard Mille, from its founding in 1999 has consistently set and pushed the boundaries of creative haute horlogerie with an innovative use of technology, materials, and shapes. The Richard Mille “Bonbon” Collection is a more recent example of this signature work, with the 2019 series of watches presenting a playful twist for the brand’s collector base with ten distinct models, each limited to 30 editions.

Luk noted the Richard Mille “Bonbon”, Reference RM16-01 Fraise for the upcoming sale is a colourful eye catcher that brings together innovative materials like carbon TPT and red quartz TPT with lively, candy-inspired designs. The RM16-01 Fraise – with its skeletonised dial and handpainted decorations – is a sweet treat for the wrist, offering a unique blend of avant-garde style and technical prowess.

Patek Philippe Reference 5370

No presentation of important watches would be complete without some notable offerings from Patek Philippe, and for this sale Luk highlighted four significant examples from the manufacture. The first is the Patek Philippe Reference 5370, a platinum split seconds chronograph wristwatch with a black enamel dial from the second half of the 2010s. Reserved for the most exclusive references, the use of a black enamel dial by the brand is an extremely rare sight, with each timepiece to feature one serving as some of the maker’s most desirable projects.

Beyond its prestigious dial material, this Reference 5370 features an attractive platinum case at 41mm, a distinct display configuration adorned with Breguet numerals in white gold, and touches of legacy-inducing motifs seen foremost in the classic railroad track details. Inside, the watch is equipped with the impressive mechanical movement CHR 29-535 PS, boasting an astounding 496 components and incorporating two column wheels – the first for the main chronograph function and the second for the split-second mechanism.

Patek Philippe Reference 916

The second Patek Philippe in Luk’s selection is the Reference 916, an exquisite example of the manufacture’s mastery in producing rare handcrafts. Representing a pinnacle in the horological art of its era, the timepiece is a keyless dress watch from 1980 which makes use of fine engraving, gem-setting, and mechanical creativity for its distinct presentation.

With an openwork design, the viewer is privileged to an intimate view of the mechanical ballet within, while the master-level gem-setting, engraving, and finishing reflects the brand's unparalleled ability at producing horological art. Presented on a matching stand to transform the timepiece into a fine static desk clock, the watch is a dream for those who appreciate the refined “art of meticulosity”.

Patek Philippe Reference 2526

The Patek Philippe Reference 2526 represents a pivotal moment in horological history, with the now iconic reference marking the introduction of the brand's first self-winding wristwatch. This particular watch, selected by Luk for the upcoming sale, is the very first self-winding watch made by the brand. The watch is in excellent overall condition and is accompanied by a letter of provenance confirming its authenticity.

With records showing the watch was produced in 1952 before being specially made for and then sold to the noted collector J.B. Champion in June 1953, the timepiece is as incredibly significant as it is beautiful, aesthetically featuring a yellow gold case construction and bracelet, alongside an excellent, intact enamel dial. Perhaps most importantly, the wristwatch’s movement is numbered as 760'000, with this being noted as the first serial example from Patek Philippe of the new self-winding mechanical offering.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona “Error Dial”

Next in Luk’s selection is the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona “Error Dial” Reference 16520. Like Patek Philippe, a true sale of important watches would be remiss to exclude highlights from the champion of significant timekeepers – Rolex.

Naturally bestowed the nickname “Error Dial” due to it missing the word “Daytona” on its display, this unique example of the 16520 derives from a unique era at Rolex when the brand made use of modified Zenith movements for its signature chronographs. It is likely this particular example was unintentionally overlooked for its error in production, but whereby a failure in quality control came one day, a treasure for collectors came the next, making the timepiece extremely rare as a unique piece from the Crown.

Patek Philippe Reference 5078 A

For her final pick fron the upcoming sale, Luk highlighted her last Patek Philippe in a super example of the Reference 5078. Introduced in 2008, the rare minute repeater is an icon of modern elegance in fine watchmaking — from its case alone recalling classic vintage Patek Philippe styles in its concave shape and elongated lugs. The dial similarly touches upon these historical motifs of the brand, most notably featuring a meticulously crafted white enamel construction, a detail which is nodded to via the “Email” text at the bottom of the display, meaning “Enamel” in French.

For all its natural material intrigue, the platinum watch shines in its mechanical capabilities, featuring a melodic minute repeater activated via the slide on the side of its case. Inside, the Patek Philippe automatic calibre R 27 PS powers the complication alongside its regular timekeeping, with the movement composed of 342 individual components. The meticulously built and finished calibre is visible via a sapphire exhibition case back, complete with its guilloche-adorned micro rotor and Geneva Seal.

Watches The Hong Kong Sales

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