Sotheby’s is hosting a ‘Rough Diamonds’ watch auction soon in Geneva INSIDE A CAVE Sotheby’s is hosting a ‘Rough Diamonds’ watch auction soon in Geneva INSIDE A CAVE

Sotheby’s is hosting a ‘Rough Diamonds’ watch auction soon in Geneva INSIDE A CAVE

Zach Blass

A watch auction hosted inside of a cave? Surely not. Well, do not be so sure because this is 100% actually happening next week in Geneva. Dubbed by Sotheby’s as the ‘Rough Diamonds’ auction, the sale will be hosted underground at the wine cellar La Corne à Vin (47 bis Rue de Lausanne, Geneva) on April 11 at 6pm with an exhibition running from April 8 – April 10 ahead of the auction. Rough Diamonds, co-hosted with the creative collective heist-out, will offer a small selection of less-often discovered or discussed timepieces for sale.

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Sotheby’s explains: “This new innovative watch sale focuses on hidden gems from the vintage market and the particular niche of ‘rough diamonds’ – those watches created to be different, play and sometimes break with the conventional perceptions of what a ‘beautiful’ watch should look like. In fact, this sale’s specific curatorial focus is on pieces our specialists have identified as having missed their chance at popularity and possible iconic status. Sotheby’s Rough Diamonds Sale is ultimately a celebration of the daring designers – some unduly forgotten – who produced aesthetically challenging, innovative, and meaningful watches, hoping to resonate with the zeitgeist and find like-minded collectors at the other end.”

The sale will consist of a total of 24 lots from brands such as Gérald Genta, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Audemars Piguet, Hermes, and more. Below are three of my personal favourites.

Piaget Polo Day-Date ref. 15562 C 701 circa 1995

Rough diamonds Piaget

After the release of the Piaget Polo 79, the OG Polo design is back in the limelight and in recent years those in the know have been waking up to earlier references within the collection. This particular model is a rare configuration, nicknamed ‘zebra’, due to its fully solid gold case and bracelet, and its dial, electing to alternate between exposed gold surfaces and gold surfaces treated with a black PVD coating. I really dig the aesthetic vibes, irrefutably a conversation piece. It is a quartz-driven day-date so it also has a much more attractive estimate as well.

Estimate: CHF 5,000 – CHF 10,000

Hermes watch with Jaeger-Lecoultre 101 movement circa 1961

Rough diamonds hermes

So, this is an 18k yellow gold Hermes watch, but the appeal here for me is its usage of the legendary JLC calibre 101. From a distance, you would think this is simply a yellow gold bracelet, but there is, in fact, a mechanical movement driving the timekeeping which is indicated on a dial that is an astoundingly small 6mm in width. This is possible due to the 101 movement, which upon its introduction in 1929, and still to this day, remains the smallest mechanical movement ever made – measuring at just 14mm in length, 4.8mm in width, and 3.4mm thick. Ultimately, this is a chance to own something that contains a historic milestone in watchmaking. And, with the Hermes x Jaeger-LeCoultre crossover, there is that much more lore and appeal.

Estimate: CHF 5,000 – CHF 10,000

Cartier Tank Asymétrique ‘Milan Edition’ ref. 4285 circa 2022

Rough Diamonds Cartier

When a Tank Asymétrique is the least quirky design within a catalogue you know there is a rather wild assortment of lots on offer. By no means conventional, this special Milan Edition of the model, encased in platinum, was presented by Cartier in 2022. The numeral ‘1’ within the ’12’ and the numeral ‘6’ are highlighted in red due to the fact this reference was limited to 16 pieces only – a tie-in to Cartier’s Milan Boutique address: 16 Via Montenapoleone. This parallelogram take on the Tank is highly sought after by collectors, whether current models sold at retail or vintage models (which can date as far back as 1936) and this model with its Breguet-inspired style hands is certainly a looker in my book.

Estimate: CHF 5,000 – CHF 10,000