Sotheby’s Fine Watches Auction: Zach picks 5 lots to keep an eye on Sotheby’s Fine Watches Auction: Zach picks 5 lots to keep an eye on

Sotheby’s Fine Watches Auction: Zach picks 5 lots to keep an eye on

Zach Blass

Watch collectors love the hunt for their next watch, and auctions are a great place to find the next dream reference you desire. Sure, it can be intimidating at times, with high-profile lots going for exorbitant amounts of money, but these auctions typically have very large catalogues with hundreds of lots. For example, the upcoming Sotheby’s Fine Watches auction currently has 162 lots bidders will be able to compete for, starting from September 1 12:00 EDT, to September 13 12:00 EDT. It is a lot to comb through, and surely headliners such as the two F.P. Journe watches will get a lot of attention from mega collectors. I, however, have assembled five watches from this auction I believe you will want to keep your eye on.

Sotheby's Fine Watches

Lot 129: Breguet Classique ref. 3330 (circa 2000)

Sotheby's Fine Watches

I would love to bring a Breguet into my personal collection, and have long touted that now is the time to buy a Tradition ref. 7027 before the market wakes up and prices on the secondary market rise to where they should be. The 7027 is not the only watch I have kept my eye on, however. The Classique ref. 3330 is another under-the-radar watch I have lusted after for some time. Looking at the front of this 36mm pink gold watch, you have a signature Breguet aesthetic with a silvered guilloché dial, off-centre hours and minutes, and day, date and moonphase apertures. The placement of each indication is a masterclass in symmetry, making for a harmonious dial. With a closed caseback, it would still be a phenomenal watch, but flipping the watch over is really where things heat up. Inside, you can see the automatic calibre 502 in all of its glory, presented in a pink gold hue with incredibly elaborate hand-engraving performed on all of the bridges. Everything collectors love to see from traditional watchmaking can be found on this 2000s watch. They are typically seen on the secondary market for around US$20k, but the listings I have saved for my own records have been up for months and months without buyers. So, while I think the US$7k – US$9k estimate is a bit unrealistic, it will be very interesting to see where the final hammer price lands.

Estimate: US$7,000 – US$9,000. To learn more or bid, click here.

Lot 17: Patek Philippe Calatrava Travel Time ref. 5134R-001 (2002)

Sotheby's Fine Watches

With so much focus placed on a select group of Patek Philippe watches, there are lesser known models like this Calatrava Travel Time 5134R that present a great horological value opportunity. Clocking in at a wrist-friendly 37mm diameter, this rose gold watch is clean, crisp, and classic with a white dial framed by applied Breguet numerals – and collectors do love Breguet numerals on a Patek Philippe dial. At 6 o’clock, you have a small seconds register, and a 24-hour indication tied to the third central rose gold hand at 12 o’clock. The grey-coloured hands for the hours, minutes, and small seconds indicate your local time. Through the two pushers on the left side of the case, you can jump the grey hours hand forward and backward in one-hour increments as you travel. Assuming you have set the central rose gold hours hand to remain in synchronisation with your home time, the small 24-hour hand will convey whether it is AM or PM back home. If you find yourself frequently heading off on business trips abroad and are looking to bring a holy trinity watch into your collection, it does not get much better than this.

Estimate: US$12,000 – US$18,000. To learn more or bid, click here.

Lot 25: Blancpain Leman Flyback Chronograph Perpetual Calendar ref. 2685F-3630-53B (circa 2010)

Sotheby's Fine Watches

Handsome and highly complicated, the Blancpain Leman collection has not always had its time in the spotlight due to the popularity of the Fifty Fathoms. A collection initiated under the leadership of Jean-Claude Biver, the Leman has been produced in a variety of sizes, metals, and with various degrees of complication. This particular model, the ref. 2685F, comes in a pink gold case 40mm in diameter, 14.3mm in thickness, and a very compact and wearable 44.8mm lug-to-lug span. Not only does it have flyback chronograph functionality, but also adds a perpetual calendar to the mix. It is wonderfully laid out, legibly sharing the real estate of the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock registers between elapsed time and perpetual calendar indications. The crown and pushers are all screw-down, and the watch is 80 metres water-resistant, so it is also feasible to casually swim with – just be sure to have it pressure tested/serviced before you do. Exhibited inside is the wonderfully decorated, automatic, column-wheel calibre F585. This is essentially the historic F. Piguet calibre 1185, once the thinnest self-winding chronograph at 5.5mm in height, with a perpetual calendar module. It also served as a base for the chronograph movements found inside both Royal Oak and Overseas chronographs. The Frederic Piguet movement manufacture, which had worked very closely with Blancpain on the development of various calibres, was purchased by the Swatch Group in 1992 and would later be renamed Manufacture Blancpain in 2010. If you can win this watch within its estimate, it would be an excellent pick up in my book.

Estimate: US$8,000 – US$20,000. To learn more or bid, click here.

Lot 118: Audemars Piguet yellow gold skeletonised watch (circa 1970)

Sotheby's Fine Watches

If you like the visual of an engraved calibre, as seen on the Breguet Classique ref. 3330 listed earlier, then this ’70s Audemars Piguet will surely have a lot of appeal. Its 34.5mm yellow gold case may be a deterrent for some, but a major advantage for people like myself who prefer more vintage and compact sizing. Looking at the front of the watch, it is immediately clear that it’s well-made and finely decorated, but only the caseback engraving of Audemars Piguet Swiss Made reveals the brand behind the watch. Today, AP is celebrated for their openworking and skeletonisation, and this watch reveals just how long they have been a master of the art form. The calibre 2120M is on full display front and back, with thin branch-like bridges radiating out across the dial exquisitely hand-engraved. This calibre was developed with Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin, the ebauche recognised as the Jaeger-LeCoultre 920. It would be used by AP, JLC, VC, and even Patek Philippe, until the movement was later brought in-house by Audemars Piguet. Its successor, the cal. 2121 would gain notoriety for its longstanding usage within the Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’, until the 50th anniversary model introduced last year debuted a new in-house calibre. I believe its estimate is actually very fair, and it could be a wonderful opportunity to bring some higher-end horology into your collection.

Estimate: US$7,000 – US$11,000. To learn more or bid, click here.

Lot 47: Heuer Seafarer ref. 2444 retailed by Abercrombie & Fitch (circa 1963)

Sotheby's Fine Watches

If you have read our hands-on of the recent TAG Heuer Carrera Skipper, you are likely familiar with the ties and partnership between Heuer and Abercrombie & Fitch. Abercrombie as a brand may present itself differently today, but in the era of this Heuer Seafarer ref. 2444 production (circa 1963), the company was known as a respected supplier of elite sporting goods and attire. After many of their clients requested a watch that could indicate the changing tides, the retailer turned to Charles-Edouard Heuer for a solution, which became the Solunar. This Seafarer was the successor to the Solunar, which had a limited production of 1,000 pieces. The Seafarer, like the Solunar, had a lunar dial that could be set based on tide tables, but it also introduced the chronograph complication into the mix. The pushers on the right-hand side of the case provide your start/stop/reset actuation for the chronograph, while the 9 o’clock pusher corresponded strictly with the lunar tide counter to the right of it. On the surface, it is simply an attractive chronograph watch with even patination to the hands and hour indices. For Heuer enthusiasts, however, there is a rich, resonating heritage within this rather rare model.

Estimate: US$15,000 – US$25,000. To learn more or bid, click here.

For full information on how to participate in the Sotheby’s Fine Watches auction, or to see the full catalogue of 162 lots, you can visit the auction overview page here.