Listen to this article
A Heuer Carrera chronograph was sold for more than ten times its estimate last month when it fetched SFr225,000 ($227,000) at Sotheby’s in May, making it the most expensive Heuer sold. The gold chronograph was originally a gift to the Swedish Formula One star Ronnie Peterson and was inscribed on the back “Success. Ronnie Peterson from Jack W Heuer”. Peterson died following an accident at the 1978 Monza Grand Prix. The previous record for the make was €55,000, paid for a TAG Heuer S/el that once belonged to the late Ayrton Senna.
Aux armes, citoyens!
A gold Breguet watch made during the late 18th century fetched SFr3.2m at Christie’s in Geneva last month, the second highest price paid for a watch by the legendary maker, who died in 1823. The self-winding, quarter-repeater with calendar, equation of time and power reserve indications is regarded as one of Breguet’s masterpieces. It was originally sold to the French general Jean Moreau for 3,600 French francs before being bought for 4,800 francs in 1817 by Charles-Louis Havas, founder of the news agency now known as Agence France-Presse. The new owner is believed to be the Breguet museum.
Phillips exceeded the combined totals achieved by Antiquorum, Christie’s and Sotheby’s at last month’s flagship watch sales in Geneva when it made more than SFr32.8m ($33.1m) from 326 lots. Phillips resumed horological auctions only a year ago after an absence of more than a decade, but under the guidance of former Christie’s star Aurel Bacs, it has quickly established itself as the most successful house. The star pieces from Geneva included a 1942 Rolex split-seconds chronograph which realised SFr2.4m and a 1956 Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph at SFr1.6m.
A mind of their own
On June 8, Sotheby’s New York will disperse 20 lots forming the second and final part of a major collection of clockwork automata. The collection includes a 19th-century gold and enamel snuffbox decorated with the scene of a fire brigade rescuing a child from a blazing house and a “coffret” (small box) which hides a tiny singing bird beneath its lid. The star of the sale, however, is the remarkable “Magician Box”, which contains an automaton scene made from four colours of gold depicting a sorcerer casting spells. When one of ten tablets containing different questions (“What does not last long enough?”) is pushed into a slot, the wizened character points his wand to a window in which the answer is revealed (“Love”). The box, once in the collection of King Farouk of Egypt, could fetch up to $2.5m.
As part of a drive to capture an increased share of the lucrative watch auction market, Paris-based house Artcurial has recruited former Sotheby’s department head Geoffroy Ader to run its horological operation. Mr Ader, who was born into a family of auctioneers and has been in the vintage watch business for 20 years, will initially oversee two specialist watch auctions per year as part of Artcurial’s regular January and July sales in Monaco. The watches will be offered alongside jewellery, vintage handbags and other luxury collectibles. In February this year, Artcurial established a world record price for a car at auction when it sold a 1957 Ferrari 335 S Scaglietti for €32,075,200 ($35.7m), which it called “the queen of speed”.
Get alerts on Sotheby's Inc when a new story is published