Watches of Knightsbridge 30th January Auction Highlights
On the 30th January will be Watches of Knightsbridge first auction of the year. Rather than the typical London location, the auction is taking place in Dubai which given the current weather on the East Coast of the States, I'd happily go out and visit if given the chance. After browsing the catalogue I picked five lots that caught my eye for one reason or another. To see the full catalog or to enquire about a specific lot then head to www.watchesofknightsbridge.com
Cartier Paris Tonneau Bamboo in 18kt Yellow Gold
What struck me most about this Cartier when I was going through the catalog was the case. How could it not be the case that caught my eye the first time? The bamboo case is typically associated with the fashion brand Gucci as they have used the exotic wood in their hand bags since 1947 and have entire line of watches that have bamboo bezels so seeing the familiar ridges in solid gold was a surprise to me. The contrast between the traditional Cartier crown with sapphire cabochon and the unique case style I found really striking. Have you noticed the secret branding on the dial of the watch? In the words of John Mayer, look closer, look closer, look closer still. Look at the X and see that one of the lines has been subtly changed to read Cartier (No photo of yourself in the A of Cartier though, sorry John!). It's from the mid-nineties so it is a quartz movement but for this watch, I don't think it's the end of the world. It's fun and unique and sometimes that's all it takes.
Auction Estimate: 3,000 - 4,000 GBP
Omega Megaquartz 2400 Marine Chronometer
Two quartz watches in one article? You might think I've gone made but this Omega Marine Chronometer is no ordinary quartz watch as forty five years later it is still one of the most accurate watches ever made. Developed in partnership with the Battelle Institute of Geneva (A non-profit focused on science and technology development), the prototype of the Marine Chronometer was presented to the Basel Watch Fair in 1970. The revolutionary quartz movement inside, Omega Caliber 1500, had a resonator that vibrated 2,359,296 times a second, hence the F.2.4MHz on the dial, and was around ten times more accurate than a standard quartz watch and remains one of the most accurate non thermo-compensated quartz movements to this day.
It is common to see an all steel or all gold case Omega Megaquartz 2.4MHz to be called a Marine Chronometer however only this reference (with 14kt yellow gold bezel, MARINE CHRONOMETER at 12 and 14kt yellow gold movement serial number at 6) was tested at Neuchatel Observatory and awarded the title of Marine Chronometer. Why this was put into the Constellation range I am not sure, perhaps as a nod to the Observatory grading? It is a pattern Omega would repeat by putting their new Master Chronometer rated movement into the Globemaster, a member of the Constellation family. It's big and chunky and from the seventies so of course I was going to love it.
Auction Estimate: 1,000 - 1,5000 GBP
Jaquet Droz Les Lunes Meteorite Triple Calendar
I've admitted on This Week In Time multiple times that there are sometimes watches and watch brands that I know very little about and Jaquet Droz is one of them. Ignorance however cannot stop me from appreciating this beautiful triple calendar watch with an exterior dial made of meteorite. I've said before that I believe having a meteorite dial on a watch with a calendar complication, especially one with a moonphase, seems so fitting too the origin of the material. The interweaving pattern of greys and silvers is known as Widmanstatten and are the ribbons of different metals, typically iron and nickel, found in meteorites that appear after a painstaking amount of polishing and treatment on the delicate sliver of rock. There was actually a series of these watches produced, each limited to just eight pieces and each with a different dial surround for the date. The other dials include ruby, quartz, slate and ivory enamel. It's an elegant dress piece with a unique dial so I would expect this one to be highly sought after on Friday.
Auction estimate: 5,000 to 6,000 GBP.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust Ref. 16013
Not all military watches need to have a black dial, large block arabic numerals, fixed spring bars and a broad arrow on the dial. Sometimes a little more refinement is needed, as is the case with this Rolex Datejust Ref.16013 that was commissioned by the Saudi Arabian Military Desert Forces in 1979. The emblem beneath the hands is the House of Saud coat of arms, the ruling Royal family of Saudi Arabia, and the inscription in Arabic underneath simply reads Land Forces. The dial on this watch is incredibly crisp and the green of the surrounding laurels of the Coat of Arms pairs very nicely with the green alligator strap.
This is just one of many Rolex watches commissioned by Middle Eastern armed forces and Royal Families that are being brought to auction by Watches of Knightsbridge with the auction itself taking place in Dubai. Rolex is perceived by many as unyielding for personal alterations so I find these personalised watches completely fascinating. If you or I were to walk into Geneva and ask for a personalised dial I think we might get a different response to the Saudi Armed Forces. I wouldn't normally go for a two-tone watch but the gold bezel just works so well with the crest and the alligator strap. With so many brilliant customised Rolex watches from the Middle East it will be interesting to see how this one does.
Auction Estimate: 3,000 - 4,000 GBP
Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT Master Ref. 6542
What is there to say about this watch that hasn't been said before? The Rolex Ref. 6542 was the first reference of the iconic GMT Master series by Rolex and is by far the most desirable thanks to the gilt dial and bakelite bezel. For all you James Bond fans out there, this is the watch on the wrist of perhaps the most famous Bond Girl, Pussy Galore, in the 1964 classic Goldfinger. An excellent pilot, Ms. Galore would have greatly benefitted from this watch as it was the first Rolex to allow multiple time zones to be shown concurrently on the dial, one with the regular hands, one with the GMT hand and one with the bezel. At 58 years old this watch has aged very gracefully with a gorgeous patina on the mercedes hand and hour markers. The bakelite bezel, whilst showing signs of wear, is all in one piece and the red and blue halves are still popping over a half a century later. Whilst it's not visible the movement on the inside of the watch is the Rolex Calibre 1030 which has what is known as a butterfly rotor because of the cut-outs and shape. Out of all the lots I highlighted this is by far my favorite. Who needs cerachrom when you have bakelite this beautiful!
Auction Estimate: 20,000 to 30,000 GBP