On June 11th – this Wednesday – Christie’s will open the doors to the first of its two ‘Important Watches’ auctions to be held in New York this year.
The highly anticipated event will draw buyers from all over the world, both in person and online, who are keen for their chance to bid on any number of the exceptional timepieces on offer. With close to 400 lots to choose from however, narrowing down the selection may prove more than a little challenging.
That’s why we turned to seasoned collector and Christie’s own SVP, International Head of Retail, Watches Reginald Brack to help us choose five watches – hidden gems if you will – that he believes are not only extremely cool but will also offer great value for money come auction time.
Here’s what he chose and why.
Lot 190 – Omega Steel Watch With Sector Dial Circa. 1936
First up on Reg’s list is this very contemporary looking Omega watch from around 1936. The case is made from stainless steel and is complemented nicely by a distinctive, silvered matte sector dial which has aged nicely over the past 70 years or so. Inside is the 15 jewel, Cal. 26.5 SOB T2 mechanical movement. What really makes this piece unique however is its size, 37.5mm, which was incredibly large for the time.
“What I love about this watch is that it’s so contemporarily sized. Back then it would have been considered gigantic but now it’s a totally wearable, all-around great looking watch.”
Estimate US$5,000 – US$8,000.
Lot 54 – Patek Philippe Ref 96 Circa. 1951
At the complete opposite end of the scale we have this gorgeous Patek Philippe Ref 96 with Breguet numerals, measuring just 31mm in diameter. Despite its relatively small stature however it still wears nicely on a man’s wrist, as you can see in the photo at the top of the article. Presented in a stainless steel case, the classic dial configuration was a precursor to many of Patek Philippe’s later classics.
“This was the go-to Calatrava. A great all-around watch, in good condition, it really is one of their iconic pieces. The model was first introduced in 1932 and inspired many of today’s Calatravas. This was a real gentleman’s everyday wrist watch.”
Estimate US$8,000 – US$12,000
Lot 72 – Rolex Ref 4376 Circa. 1944
Now by and large when it comes to collecting vintage Rolexes the rule of thumb is generally to stick with the brand’s sport or ‘tool’ watches. Sometimes though you just want something a little different, something that really stands out in a crowd. This Rolex Ref 4376 is presented in a stainless steel, 37.5mm case with distinctive extended tear-drop lugs and mushroom-style crown. The real highlight though is the honeycomb dial with applied baton numerals. As you can see just below 12 o’clock the mechanical movement inside has been designated an extremely precise chronometer.
“I chose this watch because (a) I’m a Rolex lover and (b) this watch is from 1944 and just look at how cool it is. This would be a great watch to have as your only watch and just wear it all the time. It’s on a non-Rolex steel bracelet but even that still looks good with it.”
Estimate US$10,000 – US$15,000
Lot 178 – Patek Philippe Ref 5070 Circa. 2005
The most modern watch in our line-up today is this super stylish Patek Philippe Ref 5070 from 2005. Presented in a 42mm, 18k white gold case, the silvered dial features contrasting black oxidized Arabic numerals and a full chronograph display, complete with tachometer scale and railway five minute divisions. Inside is the Cal. 27-70CHR mechanical movement which has been stamped with the Geneva Seal. Accompanying the watch is the original certificate and box.
“So, what is there to say really about the Patek 5070? To me this is one of the most amazing works of art made by human hands. I mean it is just a phenomenal watch. A great wearable watch. A great investment watch. This is the watch that really got me interested in and noticing Patek Philippe.”
Estimate US$55,000 – US$75,000
Lot 88 – Rolex Submariner Ref 6538 Circa 1956
The last piece in our selection is kind of a no brainer, the cult classic Rolex Submariner Ref 6538 with gilt four-line dial and oversized screw down crown, aka the ‘James Bond’ watch. This particular version will be even more sought after by collectors due to the aforementioned four-line dial. Whilst most examples of this timepiece feature only 200m = 660ft and Submariner, this piece also has the additional signature words Officially Certified Chronometer over two additional lines. Overall the watch is in great condition, especially the radium dial which has aged evenly to take on a warm dark golden color.
“This is one of my favorite references, a Big Crown, true James Bond 6538. It’s just such a cool watch, I mean no crown guards with a big crown like this? And it’s in really great condition too, such an iconic piece.”
Estimate US$80,000 – US$120,000
The Christie’s Important Watches auction will be held on June 11th here in New York City. The watches in the auction will be available to preview up until 3pm on Tuesday the 10th of June. If you’re in town do yourself a favor and get over there, as there are lots more cool watches to see.
For more information please visit the official Christie’s website.
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