10 favourites from the upcoming Sotheby’s Important Watches: Part I Auction 10 favourites from the upcoming Sotheby’s Important Watches: Part I Auction

10 favourites from the upcoming Sotheby’s Important Watches: Part I Auction

Fergus Nash

To call anything ‘important’ is a matter of subjectivity, especially when you’re talking about luxury watches. That said, anyone who takes a look through the lots of Sotheby’s latest batch from the upcoming Important Watches auction will be dumbstruck. From rarities like the 1970s Heuer Monaco ‘Dark Lord’ to classics such as the platinum Rolex Daytona 116506, these watches have all been crafted by brands that have changed watchmaking forever, if not the individual watches themselves. Let’s take a look at ten lots from Part 1 of the Sotheby’s Important Watches Auction, which takes place on May 14th at 10:30 CEST.

Rolex Daytona ‘John Player Special’ ref. 6241

If you’re at all a fan of vintage Formula 1 cars, you’ll undoubtedly be familiar with the iconic black and gold livery of the 1970s Lotus 77 driven by Mario Andretti and Gunnar Nilsson. Whether or not you agree with tobacco advertising in sport, the colours inspired by John Player Special cigarettes were a much more enduring success than the car itself, and thus the reference 6241 Daytona in yellow gold with a black dial was nicknamed. This is one of the holy grails of rare Rolex watches, with fewer than 300 6241 Daytonas produced in gold and only a small portion of them given black dials. This watch is in immaculate condition considering its 1969 birthday, and has been put up for auction by its original owner.

Click here to bid or find more information on this Rolex Daytona ‘John Player Special’ ref. 6241

F.P. Journe Ruthenium Chronomètre à Résonance ‘No. 1’

Any watch from F.P. Journe is bound to get a reaction from a collector who appreciates independent watchmakers, but this exact watch carries one of the most coveted aspects of any limited series. As a part of J.P. Journe’s Ruthenium collection, where the rare and beautifully grey metal has been plated on the dial and movement, this Chronomètre à Résonance is No. 1 of just 99 like it. Aside from the meta details of its rarity, this platinum-cased marvel took 15 years to develop based on an almost magical phenomenon. The idea is that two identical movements placed next to each other will begin to resonate with each other, cancelling out inconsistencies and refining the accuracy for both time displays.

Click here to bid or find more information on this F.P. Journe Ruthenium Chronomètre à Résonance ‘No. 1’

Patek Philippe ‘American Calendar’ ref. 844

When you hear about rare Patek Philippe pocket watches coming up at auction for large sums, you would usually assume it was covered in displays and complications while retaining their signature sophistication. This reference 844 is actually much more restrained, with midcentury modern design keeping things humble and relatively stealth-wealth, for an 18k gold pocket watch. The stepped case, blocky handle and dauphine hands are all hallmarks of its 1960’s origins, while the movement inside actually dates back to 1930. The perpetual calendar display begins with the month, hence the nickname ‘American Calendar’.

Click here to bid or find more information on this Patek Philippe ‘American Calendar’ ref. 844

Rolex GMT-Master ‘Captain Warren’ ref. 6542

Every vintage watch tells a story, but sadly not every story is very well kept. That bargain you snagged at a garage sale could very well tell a story as impressive as this Rolex GMT-Master from 1958, but you need to pay the big bucks to know for sure. Of the first generation of Rolex GMT-Master watches, the reference 6542, this model is quite a significant one. Owned and worn by Captain Clarence Warren Jr. who piloted multiple United States presidents around the world, this has to be one of the most famous 6542s in existence. The case is in great condition, while the dial, Bakelite bezel and hands have acquired a rustic patina.

Click here to bid or find more information on this Rolex GMT-Master ‘Captain Warren’ ref. 6542

Patek Philippe Advanced Research ref. 5550P-001

In a rare display of embracing modernity in conjunction with tradition, the Patek Philippe Advanced Research division is able to push the barriers of technical achievement while retaining the classical stylings Patek Philippe are loved for. This reference 555P0-001 is gorgeous in its platinum case and gold dial details, with a Perpetual Calendar displayed succinctly, 70 hours of power reserve, and excellent accuracy and reliability.

Click here to bid or find more information on this Patek Philippe Advanced Research ref. 5550P-001

Tudor Monte Carlo ‘Home Plate’ ref. 7031/0

Although the 1970s was a time of experimentation for many brands, this Tudor Monte Carlo chronograph is especially funky. It’s been given the nickname ‘Home Plate’ thanks to the trapezoidal shape of the subdials, and this particular example has aged with endearing beauty. The once-grey dial has turned an almost greenish tint, while the bright pop of the orange chronograph hand remains as bold as ever. The large shield logo, cyclops magnifier at 6 o’clock, and the surprisingly modern 40mm case size are all fantastic draws for this watch also.

Click here to bid or find more information on this Tudor Monte Carlo ‘Home Plate’ ref. 7031/0

Heuer Carrera ref. 1158 CNH

Besides being an absolutely breathtaking display of 18k yellow gold, this Heuer Carrera has some incredible motorsport pedigree. In addition to being Jack Heuer’s favourite reference, a deal with Ferrari helped to change the face of racing sponsorship. The 1158 was worn by Niki Lauda, Clay Regazzoni, Jacky Ickx, Mario Andretti, Gilles Villeneuve, and Jody Scheckter, and it was intrinsically linked with the glory of driving for Ferrari’s F1 team. This reference with a vertically-brushed gold dial and contrasting black registers looks immaculate, and is one of approximately 200 in the world.

Click here to bid or find more information on this Heuer Carrera ref. 1158 CNH

Rolex GMT-Master ‘Blueberry’ ref. 1675

You could not name a more iconic GMT watch than the Rolex GMT-Master, which makes rare references even more mouthwatering. The reference 1675 was in production between 1959 and 1980, signifying its popularity and success, but even then limited editions were not common for Rolex. The ‘Blueberry’ was most likely made for middle eastern armed forces in the 1970s, and this example with its Arabic date wheel backs up that story. The all-blue bezel is incredibly vibrant after all these years, even when the luminous markers have turned a pleasing pumpkin orange with age.

Click here to bid or find more information on this Rolex GMT-Master ‘Blueberry’ ref. 1675

Rolex Daytona ‘Beach’ ref. 116519

We tend to pretend that brightly-coloured watch dials are a modern thing, when really they’ve been around for decades upon decades. Within the same kind of mindset as the Stella dials of the 1970s, the Rolex Daytona ‘Beach’ references appeared around the turn of the 21st century. This 18k white gold Daytona blasts you with opulent charisma, bearing a pink mother-of-pearl dial and paired with a pink alligator leather strap. If you’re looking for something that stands out, there could be no better choice for a sunny climate and a 50,000-70,000 CHF budget.

Click here to bid or find more information on this Rolex Daytona ‘Beach’ ref. 116519

Patek Philippe ref. 3424

The references of Patek Philippe are known by a lot of collectors like the backs of their hands, and even if you’re not familiar with the numbers then chances are you’ve seen a lot of pictures. As a brand that’s held often at the pinnacle of sophisticated watchmaking, it’s not often that you come across something as avant-garde as this reference 3424. Designed by the young Gilbert Albert, this midcentury asymmetrical design is beautifully distorted along its case, while the dial reiterates symmetry through splayed-out axis lines and simple baton hands.

Click here to bid or find more information on this Patek Philippe ref. 3424

Sotheby’s Important Watches: Part I Auction: How to bid

The Sotheby’s Important Watches: Part I auction will take place on May 14th at 10:30 CEST. To view the full catalogue of lots and register to bid you can head to the auction homepage right here.

All images courtesy of Sotheby’s