Five Lots to Keep an Eye on at Christie’s “An Evening of Exceptional Watches” Auction on June 13, 20
In a little over 24 hours, we’ll once more have a chance to see how far Daytona mania has come in the past few years. Lot #17 in tomorrow night’s Christie’s “An Evening of Exceptional Watches” auction is a first-rate example of a Rolex Paul Newman Mark 1 Panda Dial Ref. 6263 chronograph circa 1969. The current estimate is set between $500,000 and $1,000,000, with many experts and collectors assuming it will settle closer to the latter figure than the former. The watch comes from its original owner who purchased the watch new in Bern, Switzerland in 1971 while touring Europe on motorcycle. The condition is superb, the dial in particular in beautiful shape, and it features the original crown, pushers, and bezel.
Other than the Paul Newman Mark 1, which will surely dominate social media feeds once the bidding goes live, we have five other lots worth keeping an eye on that range from a contemporary Patek that is emblematic of the seemingly unstoppable force that is today’s Nautilus market, a Ulysse Nardin with an uncharacteristic movement finish, and a Rolex Big Crown Submariner with an “Explorer” dial and an intoxicating provenance filled with Arctic adventure.
First, a few honorable mentions:
One of the first few lots is a Zenith El Primero A386, otherwise known as the first self-winding chronograph when it was released in 1969, in prime condition. If I was a betting man, I would keep an eye on these to rocket in price over the next decade as their historical value becomes fully realized. The estimate is currently set between $12,000 and $18,000 (anyone have a spare $15k to lend me?).
There are multiple fantastic pocket watches up for sale with two, in particular, standing out. A pocket watch with a Zenith movement that was gifted to the prominent Yiddish writer, Sholem Aleichem, best known for Fiddler on the Roof, and one passed down by the founder of Tiffany & Co., Charles L. Tiffany.
Other than that, there are a number of compelling Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Omega Speedmaster models, both vintage and contemporary, a pair of interesting Heuer Autavia GMTs (see here and here), a military green Porsche Design from 1985, and an Abercrombie & Fitch-branded, Heuer-signed Seafarer chronograph that are all worth checking out.
Omega Speedmaster “Broad Arrow” Reference 2915-1
The Omega Speedmaster “Broad Arrow” Ref. 2915-1 (Lot #9) is one of those classic timepieces that is revered by all for its heritage but virtually unattainable due to its scarcity and the price it commands when available. This is the original Speedmaster that was released a full 12 years prior to the “Moonwatch” touching lunar ground in 1969. Dubbed CK 2915-1, it soon became known as the “Broad Arrow” thanks to its hour hand. Since this initial release, the Speedmaster has inspired a massive following both in and out of the watch world (#speedytuesday, anyone?), and Reference 2915-1 is the reason why. Inside, you’ve got the original Caliber 321 movement, the large Broad Arrow hour hand (replaced by dauphine hands in 2915-3 and eventually baton hands), a tachymeter scale on the steel bezel, and the distinguishable straight lug case. A similar model on bracelet sold for over $275,000 at Bukowski’s in Sweden in October of 2017, so it’s no wonder that many have this version beating its estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. More details here.
Patek Philippe Reference 5029
The minute repeating Patek Philippe Ref. 5029 (Lot #45) was originally brought to market to commemorate the opening of a new Patek Philippe manufacture in Geneva with only 30 total models being produced. Of those 30, there were 10 in platinum, 10 in rose gold, and 10 in yellow gold. And, of that small amount, only five are thought to have been produced with a champagne dial like the watch up for bid tomorrow night. Speaking as someone who isn’t the biggest fan of solid, yellow-gold watches, this 5029 is drool-worthy in every way. The case of this specific model was built by the celebrated case maker Jean-Pierre Hagmann, whose initials are stamped on the inside of the hinged case back. Featuring the self-winding, minute repeating Calibre R27PS, the watch has applied gold Breguet numerals, Breguet hands, and an engraving on the case back highlighting the 1997 factory opening. The estimate is currently set between $350,000 and $550,000. More details here.
Ulysse Nardin Reference 7536-1
Released in 1966, this Ulysse Nardin Ref. 7536-1 (Lot #4) is a highly-sought after reverse panda chrono that bears a strong resemblance to a Rolex Daytona. This specific watch differs from previous UN models that have come up to auction by featuring a distinctive perlage finish on the movement compared to the customary Côtes de Geneve. Also worth mentioning is the arrow-tipped hands on the hour and minute registers, an uncommon layout that adds some personality. The final bid is estimated to land somewhere between $25,000 and $45,000. More details here.
Patek Philippe Reference 5976/1G-001
First shown and released in 2016, the Patek Philippe 5976/1G-001 (Lot #70) will be an interesting litmus test to see just how absurd the current Nautilus market currently is. Other than Rolex Paul Newman Daytonas, as previously mentioned, it would be hard to find a more difficult timepiece to get a hold of. Up for bid tomorrow is a self-winding, flyback chronograph timepiece that was one of two Nautilus’s meant to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its original design. The traditional vertical satin finish and shiny chamfers on the bezel, plus the alternating matte and mirror polish on the bracelet links are all here. As is the enlarged chronograph monocounter subdial at 6 o’clock that was originally seen in the 2006 predecessor, Reference 5980. Its three concentric scales include a 12-hour counter on the outside, a minute counter from 1 to 30 in the middle, and another minute counter from 31 to 60 on the inside. Flawless baguette and princess-cut diamonds are used for the applied hour markers. The horizontal Nautilus-style embossed pattern decorates the dial and the anniversary citation “1976–40–2016” can be found on its upper half. A look at the watch’s Certificate of Origin confirms that this specific timepiece didn’t leave the brand until January 8, 2018, meaning it almost immediately ended up in the hands of Christie’s providing us with an interesting case study of the market value for pre-owned Nautilus models. Upon its initial release, the Ref. 5976/1G-001 retailed for a touch under $100,000. The current estimate for this piece is set to land in between that number and $150,000. If it beats that estimate, which it has a chance of doing, we could see even further growth in what has become a seemingly unstoppable goliath within the watch industry. More details here.
Rolex Submariner Big Crown with an “Explorer” Dial and Red Depth Rating
This stainless steel Rolex Submariner Big Crown Ref. 6538 (Lot #95) with an “explorer” dial (meaning Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, a configuration typically seen in Rolex Explorer models) isn’t just notable for the James Bond connection, but for the rare ‘meters first’ depth rating of “200/660” in red print rather than white and the adventures its original owner, an Australian seaman named John Simpson, took it on. This is his story, told to Christie’s by Simpson’s son, who is the one offering the watch for auction.