S otheby’s is pleased to present Important Watches Part II, running from the 29 April until the 12 May alongside the Important Watches live auction on 11 May. This sale includes an exciting selection of contemporary and vintage wristwatches from various renowned makers such as Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet.
G.O.A.T. | Watches that made History
Considered one of the most prestigious complications in horology, the tourbillon was invented by no other than the famous watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet. He patented his invention on June 26th, 1801, at a time when the French Revolutionary calendar was in place and therefore dates were expressed in a different fashion in France. To honor the original patent, some Breguet watches still carry the engraving 'Brevet du 7 Messidor an 9' on the movement. Other makers and brands have since adapted the ingenious mechanism which was developed to make watches more accurate. By mounting the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage, the effects of gravity when keeping the watch in a certain position are negated. In other words, the tourbillon averages out errors from different positioning of the watch. This auction features an excellent selection of tourbillon wristwatches from Breguet, Audemars Piguet, Graff and IWC.
Audemars Piguet – Royal Oak
The most vital characteristic of a watch is, of course, that it has to tell the time accurately. But design has increasingly become almost as important as functionality. For decades, watches have moved on aesthetically as much as mechanically, evolving from necessity to accessory. And even as the modern world has somewhat diminished the need for a wristwatch, innovation and variety in design – balancing utility with beauty – has ensured they remain relevant, and inspired passion and intrigue in collectors.
Developed during the quartz crisis, which strongly hit Swiss watch-making in the late 1960s and beginning of the 1970s, the Royal Oak revolutionised the industry and created a new category: 'stainless steel sports watches'. The novelty, designed by Gérald Genta, coincided with the fashion for less ostentatious watches, as preferences shifted towards understatement and quality. The Royal Oak was an all-purpose watch – a playful and slight audacious choice, a watch that was just at home under the cuff of a denim jacket as it was the cuff of a dinner jacket.
Its popularity today is a testament to the timelessness of its design and the innovation and genius of its creator, Gerald Genta.
Almost in contrast to the simplicity of the design the Royal Oak has seen many iterations, some including significant complications and extravagant gem set pieces.
This hugely popular Cartier design was created by Louis Cartier in the early 1930s, when he made it for the Sultan of Marrakech. It was one of the first water-resistant watches created and the celebrated crown cap, attached to a small chain, is still an essential part of the model today, often adorned by a precious stone. While it rose and fell in popularity over time, it was redesigned in the 1980s by the legendary Gérald Genta and is a sought-after classic nowadays. This auction offers an exciting selection of time-only, perpetual calendar, diamond-set and even beautifully enamelled examples.