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March 31, 2011updated Feb 13, 2013

Antiquorum Watch Auction Draws Incredible Sums

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Musique d’AmourRolex Oyster PerpetualThe Knife GrinderFaberge Musical Table ClockGeneva, Switzerland – Reported by Elite Traveler, the Private Jet Lifestyle Magazine

Antiquorum’s March 27 auction, featuring “Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces” and held at Geneva’s Mandarin Oriental, brought in an exceptional $7 million (CHF 6,457,937). 83 percent of the 564 timepieces up for auction sold, at 138.5% of value. The auction drew participation from Japan, the Netherlands, China, Hong Kong, Turkey and the Russian Federation, with Internet, phone and commission bidders.

The auction’s highlight was a stunning collection of 33 erotic timepieces and animated objects sold by a Swiss collector. Fierce bidding raised the final collection price to approximately $785,000 (CHF 719,200), a phenomenal sum twice the high estimate. Watches in the collection that drew particularly notable results included “Musique d’Amour,” a repeating musical watch with concealed erotic automaton by Henry Capt, a watch by John Bittleston with a concealed erotic scene (sold for over seven times the high estimate), a quarter-repeating watch with three concealed erotic scenes (sold for more than 10 times the high estimate), a watch with concealed erotic scene by Girardier l’Aîné and “The Priest’s Surprise,” a Swiss-made pocket watch made circa 1810.

The stunning Rolex “Oyster Perpetual,” an extremely rare 14K yellow gold wristwatch whose cloisonné enamel dial by Marguerite Koch represents the two Americas, drew record-breaking interest. The piece astounded by obtaining about $723,000 (CHF 662,500), over three times the high estimate. This represents a world record for a time-only Rolex wristwatch as well as a record for a Rolex cloisonné enamel dial timepiece.

Director and watch expert Etienne Leménager noted: “Black-background enamel dials are always sought after due to the technical difficulty of achieving a beautiful rich black, so we knew there would be great interest in this watch.”

Other Rolex watches did well, as did Patek Philippe timepieces, which continue to command high prices.

A group of 20 fine clocks belonging to a French collector, including an L. Leroy & Cie carriage clock with signed and dated Limoges enamel panels by Claudius Popelin and a very rare late 20th-century L’Epée gilt brass and champlevé enamel carriage clock with one-minute tourbillon regulator, generated great interest as well.

Managing director and auctioneer Julien Schaerer commented: “The ever-growing strength of Asian bidders, due to their growing knowledge and discernment, is remarkable. While the effects are felt in the tremendous interest shown for enamel pocket watches, they also extend to the appreciation of vintage wristwatches and complicated Patek Philippe wristwatches.”

With Asian market interest for exceptional decorative and automaton pocket watches on the rise, Asian collectors competed fiercely for many pieces in the sale, including “The Knife Grinder” by Esquivillon et Deschoudens, a quarter-repeating pocket watch, and Vacheron & Constantin Ref. 4582, a 20K yellow gold keyless dress watch.

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Last but certainly not least, an exquisite musical table clock in the Faberge tradition sold for about $107,000 (CHF 98,500). Playing “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy, the guilloché and opalescent enameled egg whose dome is carved from a single piece of transparent rock crystal, is lavishly set with 492 diamonds and 8 blue sapphires.

Antiquorum’s next auction is scheduled for Sunday, May 15, in Geneva.

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