S otheby’s London is pleased to present its Fine Watches Including Masterworks of Time auction running from the 2nd to the 16th of September. This sale draws from several avenues of watchmaking, with highlights including a number of pocket watches from the likes of Charles Frodsham, to 1970’s classic Rolex sports models to a modern and unique Vacheron Constantin “Les Cabinotiers” minute repeating perpetual calendar tourbillon.
Military Edition Wristwatches
Faithful to its close relationship with some of the elite British military forces, renowned wristwatch brands such as Rolex and Omega produced confidential edition watches that were never available to the public for sale. These pieces are highly sought after by the international watch community. It is a privilege to present such important and fascinating pieces.
Vacheron Constantin - Unique Les Cabinotiers reference 30015/000R-9608
Estimate 200,000 - 300,000 GBP
It is best described by the Manufacture's own words:
'Loyal to the spirit of its founder, Vacheron Constantin continues the tradition of offering its best clients the chance to create made-to-measure watches. Today, this service is offered through a dedicated department, bringing together all of the skills needed to make these exceptional pieces: Les Cabinotiers. Made up of expert professionals, this team possesses immense technical and manual expertise, a wealth of scientific knowledge and a profound curiosity for new ideas to be able to create highly-complicated watches on demand.'
The name 'Cabinotier' dates back from the 18th century when it was used to described highly reputable and skilled watchmakers and artisans using a little workshop located on the top floors to benefit from a maximum of light through numerous small windows. These workshops were mainly located in Saint-Gervais in Geneva.
The present lot is a perfect and most attractive example of the finest creations of the Cabinotiers department.
At the first glance, the blue dial highlighted by the pink gold indexes matching the two dauphine hands appears quite understated. After closer inspection, one can admire some intricate details such as the engine turned work realized in the inner part of the minute track. While the gold indexes stand in their usual position, the minute track and the hands are slightly off-centered to create some space to the tourbillon cage revealed at 8 o'clock. This unusual layout combined with the decorating work create a dynamism counter-balancing the minimalist design. The effect is further enhanced by the rotation of the tourbillon.
The Royal Oak
Audemars Piguet launched the famous Royal Oak in the early 1970s, revolutionizing the luxury watch industry in the face of the quartz crisis. Gérald Genta designed this iconic shape, inspired by a diving-suit helmet, to feature a fully integrated bracelet: a first of its kind. We are pleased to offer a variety of iterations, from an early Reference 5402, circa 1980, to a like-new modern chronograph, circa 2020.
BUCHERER x SOTHEBY’S
Joh. Gottl. Ulrich, Hamburg - An oval and polychrome enamel painted watch case with later custom made movement case
Circa 1665-1675, movement, Circa 1760
Estimate: 10,000 - 15,000GBP
The enamel case of the present watch is most likely German (although possibly Netherlandish) and dates to c. 1665-1675. The movement has been custom made to fit the case and would doubtless have been produced to replace the original movement that had perhaps become damaged, or possiby to provide an upgrade to the watch in terms of its timekeeping.
The story of Pyramus and Thisbe is told in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Forbidden to marry by their parents, the protagonists secretly arrange to meet outside their city walls. Thisbe arriving first finds a lioness drinking from a fountain. Terrified, Thisbe flees and drops her cloak in the process. The lioness, which had arrived fresh from a kill with blood around its mouth, proceeded to tear Thisbe's cloak to shreds. Arriving at the scene, Pyramus discovers Thisbe's shredded and bloodied cloak and, assuming the worst, kills himself. Thisbe returns to find her lover dead and in grief throws herself upon his sword. Pyramus's blood was said to colour Mulberries red for all time. In James Hall's Dictionary of Symbols and Subjects in Art, the author notes that: "the death scene became widely popular in post-Renaissance painting" (op. cit. 1993, p. 257). The vignettes to the sides of the case include depictions of Thisbe fleeing the lioness as well as Thisbe falling on Pyramus's sword upon finding the latter's body.
Charles Frodsham, London - A gold hunting cased keyless lever 7 1/2- minute flying tourbillon watch with split seconds chronograph and 60-minute register movement
Circa 1917, case hallmarked 1904, No. 09765
Estimate: 6,000 - 8,000GBP
It would appear that this is currently the only known example of a split seconds chronograph watch by Frodsham with a 7 1/2 minute flying tourbillon carriage. Interestingly the case dates to 1904 yet the address engraved to the backplate is one that Charles Frodsham & Co. moved to in 1915, and the serial number of the movement would suggest a date of completion in c.1917. The disparity in date suggests that the case was re-used by Frodsham; such re-use of a high quailty case is not unheard of - another such disparity of case and movement is known for a further Frodsham of similar serial date to the present piece. As the Frodsham workbooks for this particular period are lacking and no Kew examination was originally undertaken for the present watch, it is not possible to shed further light on this watch's early history.
We would like to thank Charles Frodsham & Co. for their help in the research of this piece.