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Audemars Piguet and Laurent Ferrier star at Bonhams Paris auction

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Bonhams will never turn its back on its its historic and spiritual home in London’s Mayfair, but the chance to hold a fine watch sale in Paris was too good to miss this month, and it turned out to be a highly successful trip over the channel.

Bonhams global head of watches, Jonathan Darracott, told WATCHPRO that post-Brexit changes to the way VAT is charged on pre-owned good in the UK — losing access to the Margin Scheme — was a factor in the decision to move to Paris.

“We saw an opportunity to develop European sales and, with the additional VAT attached to European sourced items in the UK, it was a natural progression. The London sales have and will remain a core part of our strategy,” he says.

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A temporary sale room created in the Grand Palais Ephémère in Paris saw fierce bidding for a 1985 Audemars-Piguet Royal Oak D Series wristwatch Reference: 25554ST.00.0344ST.01 (pictured top), which sold for €175,313, double its pre-sale estimate.

Independent watchmakers also performed well, particularly Laurent Ferrier with a 2010 Galet Classic Tourbillon, Reference: LCF001.02.R5.E09, hammering at €81,563 and a  2014 Galet Classic, Reference: LCF004.G1.OBN.1, nudged past its top estimate to sell for €37,813.

Other highlights of the in-person and online sale included:

Circa 1935 Patek Philippe Reference: 96, double-signed ‘Hausmann and Co’, sold for €75,313. Another incredibly rare timepiece, the quintessentially 1930s wristwatch had been owned since new by the same family. Adding to its allure was the double-signature of the exceptional jewellers ‘Hausmann & Co’.

Circa 1970 Patek Philippe Calatrava Reference: 3445, from the Collection of a Distinguished European Gentleman, sold for €22,813. The 3445 was the first automatic watch by Patek Philippe to have a date. This example, powered by its incomparable Calibre 27-470PM movement, featured a highly attractive and gloss black dial complemented by its solid 18K yellow case.

Circa 1970 Cartier Bamboo Coussin, sold for €19,063. An unusual and rare 18k gold manual wind rectangular wristwatch, named as such due to its bamboo style bezel, inspired by the 1970s’ ‘back to nature’ design movement. Also offered from the Collection of a Distinguished European Gentleman, it sold above estimate, with its strong performance continuing a trend set by Cartier pieces in the most recent Bonhams sales in London.

The next sale for the Bonhams Watches department will be the Watches and Wristwatches Sale in Knightsbridge, London on 22 February.

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