Cross-category appeal is all the rage these days, which is why brands like Hublot and Seiko strike up so many partnerships with contemporary artists.
Masters from the past bring just as much cachet to a timepiece, as we saw with last week’s auction of an unremarkable watch made distinctive only by the fact that it was owned, worn and carried the name on the dial of Pablo Picasso.
Christie’s New York is picking up the baton for its Watches Online fortnight of sales, which is being promoted using a Patek Philippe Calatrava owned by the pop art icon and watch collector Andy Warhol.
Another red hot trend at auctions is the rise in value of historic Cartier pieces.
Vintage Cartier CPCP (Collection Privée Cartier Paris) watches have become sought-after over the past 3 to 5 years, with many people now appreciating the finer and quirkier dress watches that Cartier made in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Interest is particularly strong for watches made by Cartier London, which operated independently from Cartier Paris and Cartier New York before being incorporated into one company and purchased by Richemont Group.
The famous Cartier Crash hails from that era, although an example on sale at Christie’s New York sale is from 2003, a decade after Richemont bought the maison.
Highlights of Christie’s New York Watches Online auctions
(descriptions from Christie's)
One of Cartier’s most original and creative designs, this very rare Cartier Crash, 18K pink gold (circa 2003), property of an elegant lady, is a quintessential piece. Despite having a strong resemblance to distorted watch in Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, the design of the Cartier Crash has no connection to the surreal work. The idea for the Crash came when a client of Cartier brought in his damaged Baignoire from an automobile accident to the London maison in 1967. The famed jeweller repaired the watch, while Jean-Jacques Cartier was so taken with the shape of the case that he decided to reproduce it. Symbolizing non-conformist creative freedom, the Crash watch was Cartier’s way of overturning conventions and introducing a touch of humor to the elegant world of watchmaking. It became legendary and was produced in very limited numbers, soon becoming a collector’s piece. Christie’s set the record for a Cartier Crash in yellow gold in December 2020 that sold for USD 225,000, over three times its initial estimate. Lot number: 12. Est. USD 40,000-60,000 | €33,000-49,000
When Andy Warhol wasn’t in his New York City studio creating iconic pop art or directing and producing films, he was known to be a collector of many things, including fine watches. It’s believed the artist once owned in excess of 300 timepieces, some of which were rare and desirable wristwatches by Patek Philippe, and it’s been said that Warhol kept his most prized watches at the center of the canopy that hung over his bed. Included in his collection, this classic style Patek Philippe Calatrava reference 570 exudes elegance with a timeless appeal, and represents a rare opportunity with unique provenance. The classicism of Warhol’s watches definitely contrasts with his exuberant pop art, creating an interesting paradox. The present example is made even more desirable by its ‘double-signed’ dial, displaying the retailer signature, Hausmann & Co., founded in Rome in 1794, and the firm is still residing in the same premises in Rome’s historical center, representing the world’s most prestigious watch and clock manufacturers. Lot number: 73. Est. USD 45,000-95,000 | €38,000-78,000
A fine and highly attractive Rolex reference 6036, stainless steel triple calendar chronograph wristwatch from 1963. Reference 6036 was the part of the celebrated Dato-Compax or Jean-Claude Killy family of complete calendar chronograph models from Rolex. It incorporates one of the most sophisticated movements ever used by the company: the Valjoux 72C. Reference 6036 carries the ‘Oyster’designation as it has a water-resistant-type screw-down case back, as opposed to the reference 4768 that has a snap-on case back. These Dato-Compax watches (references 4768, 5036, 6036, and 6236) are linked to the legendary Olympic gold medalist Jean-Claude Killy. A champion skier and man of refined taste, the name of Mr. Killy has been associated with Rolex for 40 years since he became an official Rolex Ambassador and began serving on the Rolex Board of Directors. Circa 1963. Lot number: 92. Est. USD 80,000-120,000 | €66,000-99,000.
This highly attractive 3800 Patek Philippe Nautilus in steel, is from the 90’s, as indicated by the white date display. This watch comes with the original tritium dial with diamonds. This blue dial, known as the Sigma Dial, is highly sought after and can be identified by the two circles that are next to swiss at six o’clock. From the early ‘80s onwards, the Nautilus collection was built on three fundamental pillars: the original 3700, the mid-size 3800 and the quartz-powered 4700. The 3800 was meant to bring the Nautilus design penned by Gerald Genta to a wider audience, who at the time preferred more modestly-sized pieces. Lot number: 72. Est. USD 30,000-50,000 | €25,000-41,000
Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph, yellow gold, doubled sealed, widely acknowledged as one of Patek Philippe’s greatest watches since the venerable 2499, the reference 5970J is one of those very rare ‘perfect watches’. The elegant case size, sculpted lugs, perfectly balanced dial that marries complexity with legibility is very hard to beat. Of the 4 metals produced, the yellow gold is the rarest with only around 450 examples being made. Increasingly sought after by savvy collectors this example is complete with its original box, papers, additional case back and setting stylus. Lot number: 68. Est. USD 100,000-150,000 | €83,000-120,000
This Patek Philippe reference 3990 is an extremely rare platinum perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases, 24-hour and leap year indication. In production from approx. 1995 to 2005, reference 3990 is virtually identical to the celebrated reference 3970E, with the addition of a diamond-set bezel and matching luxurious dial, and the first perpetual calendar chronograph to feature a diamond-set bezel. Reference 3990 was cased in yellow, pink and white gold, and more exclusively in platinum. The present example is cased in platinum, circa 1994. The black dial contrasts superbly against the diamond markers and white tones of the platinum case. Lot number: 67. Est. USD 150,000-250,000 | €130,000-210,000