Experts, collectors and aficionados of fine vintage watches will gather at the Hotel Beau-Rivage from 8pm on Sunday May 15th for Sotheby’s Evening Sale. With 280 lots that will in all probability exceed the pre-sale estimate of CHF 7.2 million (US$ 8.23 million / €5.56 million), Geoffroy Ader has never presented such a rich, varied and even surprising selection covering five centuries of watch history. The sale will include several very special lots. Leading the way are some one hundred pocket watches, a trend which the auctioneer revived three years ago. Most are highly rare and were made in Europe for the Chinese, Indian and Turkish markets. Equally noteworthy is a family collection, being offered for the first time at auction, of pocket watches from 1580 to 1900. A splendid pocket quarter repeater by Breguet, finely crafted in yellow gold (lot 74), was made in 1813 for Caroline Bonaparte Murat, Queen of Naples. It should fetch more than its estimate of CHF 60,000-80,000 (US$ 68,650-91,500 / €46,550-62,000).
The sale includes an important selection of Rolex watches, two of which will have particular appeal for collectors in search of originality. They are an exceptionally rare version of the “Cosmograph Daytona” ref. 1628 in gold from 1989 (lot 108) whose dial, for an unknown reason, has the numeral “13” at 3 o’clock instead of “15”. The buyer, on noticing this anomaly, complained to Rolex. The watch is accompanied by the letter of apology which Chairman André Heiniger sent in reply. This unique timepiece has a pre-sale estimate of CHF 80,000-120,000 (US$ 91,500-137,250 / €62,000-92,700). All eyes will also be on the final lot of the evening and another very rare piece, a 1967 Oyster Cosmograph Daytona “Paul Newman” in steel with inverted lines (lot 280; est. CHF 100,000-150,000 / US$ 114,400-172,000 / €77,250-115,900). It comes hot on the heels of the Rolex Oyster Cosmograph “Paul Newman” in steel with brown dial, which brought the house down in November last year when it sold for CHF 464,500 (US$ 531,340 / €358,870), six times its high estimate.
The sale also features three “Oyster Perpetual” watches which accompanied the climatologist Dr. Janusz Kurbiel on his North Pole expeditions between 1980 and 1993 (lots 23, 24 and 25), and a 1975 stainless steel automatic centre-seconds “Submariner” worn by treasure hunter Keith Jessop, and which has remained in his family until today (lot 22; est. CHF 20,000-30,000 / US$ 22,800-34,300 / €15,450-23,200).
Fausto Coppi's world-record chronograph
Another “piece of history” and Geoffroy Ader’s favourite watch in the sale is the silver “Ulysse Nardin” chronograph (lot 28) which Ferruccio Massara used on November 7th 1942 to time Fausto Coppi in his cycling world hour record at the Vigorelli velodrome in Milan. The Campionissimo’s record of 45.798 km in one hour stood for 14 years until it was finally broken by Jacques Anquetil in 1956. Presented in perfect working order, this hugely significant watch is expected to return to Italy and should pulverise its estimate of CHF 20,000-30,000 (US$ 22,800-34,300 / €15,450-23,200).
Geoffroy Ader’s selection also includes military watches and several extremely rare Patek Philippe watches, including the highlight and top lot of the sale: a yellow gold chronograph Ref. 2499 with perpetual calendar and moon phases, sold in 1962 (lot 185; est. CHF 600,000-1,000,000 / US$ 686,350-1,143,900 / €463,550-772,600). Collectors of the Geneva brand will also battle for a 1996 rose gold perpetual calendar spilt-seconds chronograph with date and moon-phases (lot 193; est. CHF 170,000-230,000 / US$ 194,450-263,100 / €131,350-177,700) and an open-faced yellow gold chronograph Ref. 767, a very rare example of a highly complicated watch made between 1927 and 1957 (lot 179; est. CHF 200,000-300,000 / US$ 228,800-343,150 / €154,500-231,750).
Sale: May 15th 8pm – Hotel Beau-Rivage, Geneva
Preview: May 13th 3pm-6pm; May 14th-15th, 10am-6pm