February 7, 2023

Many of the important auctions these days, as certainly in the past, appear to be dominated by notable sales of Rolex and Patek Philippe timepieces.

And there’s nothing against those two lovely brands, but the world of big auctions is becoming ever more monotone (or at least two-tone) rather than offering a full spectrum of colors.

It reminds me quite a bit of the late 1980s and early 1990s tennis era in which Steffi Graf dominated the field so much that hardly any other female tennis player won anything major – and if someone did, it was largely considered an upset. In 1989, for example, she finished the year with 14 titles (including three Grand Slams) and an 86-2 record.

I remember wondering why I even bothered watching tennis at that time because sport is much less exciting when you already know who wins.

And I must admit I’m starting to feel that same way about watch auctions right now.

So, today, to change things up a bit, I’d like to focus on some genuinely exotic, decidedly out-of-the-ordinary timepieces currently on offer at Christie’s Important Watches auction in Dubai, which takes place on March 19, 2017 at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel.

Boucheron Ladyhawke Three Bridges Tourbillon

Let’s start with – and put the decided spotlight on – the Boucheron Ladyhawke Three Bridges Tourbillon (lot 97), a masterpiece combining the talents of both Boucheron in the arena of jewelry and gem setting, and Girard-Perregaux in the area of horology, combining the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based manufacture’s emblematic three bridges tourbillon with the artistry of the French jeweler.

Boucheron Ladyhawke Three Bridges Tourbillon

Boucheron Ladyhawke Three Bridges Tourbillon

This creation from 2010 begins with an oval-shaped white gold case housing manually wound Girard-Perregaux Caliber 9700.0A, which is characterized by the brand’s famous tourbillon “under three gold bridges.” The back of the solid case back is stamped with the words, “Boucheron Creation Unique” and “Tourbillon sous trois ponts d’or Manufacture Girard-Perregaux.”

The dial framing the cutaways for the large, skeletonized spring barrel at 12 o’clock and the tourbillon at 6 o’clock (with a little of the gear train peaking through between them) is paved with radiant yellow, white, and pink diamonds. The oval bezel is also set with white brilliant-cut diamonds, while the crown offers a large ruby cabochon.

Boucheron Ladyhawke Three Bridges Tourbillon

Boucheron Ladyhawke Three Bridges Tourbillon

An awe-inspiring hawk encircles the watch and decoratively extends to the white gold bracelet and concealed clasp, turning this timepiece into a veritable piece of jewelry. The jewels set into the hawk number 777 individual gemstones for a carat weight of 26.72.

Animals are a prevailing source of inspiration at Boucheron, and the majestic creature looks particularly good with these elegant sparklers making up its plumage.

Quick Facts Boucheron Ladyhawke Three Bridges Tourbillon
Case: 31 mm, white gold with 52 diamonds set in bezel and one ruby cabochon in the crown
Gems: 178 pink, yellow, and white diamonds in dial; 547 fancy and white diamonds as well as two rubies in hawk sculpture
Movement: manually wound Girard-Perregaux Caliber 9700.0A with one-minute tourbillon
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: one unique piece
Auction estimate: $250,000-$450,000
Result: not sold

Ulysse Nardin Classico Horse

Other unique lots that caught my eye include an example of 2014’s lovely Ulysse Nardin Classico Horse with its enameled equestrian theme (lot 101). For more on that piece, see Give Me Five! Happy Chinese New Year Of The Horse.

Ulysse Nardin Classico Horse

Ulysse Nardin Classico Horse

Quick Facts Ulysse Nardin Classico Horse
Case: 40 mm, pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber UN 815, C.O.S.C. certified
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation: 88 pieces
Auction estimate: $15,000-$25,000
Result: not sold

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Seconds Incliné

Another rarity at this auction is a Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Seconds Incliné from 2010 (lot 113).

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Seconds Incliné

Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Seconds Incliné

Quick Facts Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Seconds Incliné
Case: 44 mm, white gold
Movement: manually wound Greubel Forsey Caliber GF01 with 24-second inclined (25°) tourbillon, 72 hours of power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve indication
Auction estimate: $140,000-$240,000
Result: $162,500

Concord C1 Tourbillon Gravity

Here we also find an example of the watch that I believe kicked off the short-lived era of “monster” complications, that brainchild of then Concord CEO Vincent Perriard (now HYT) and the now-defunct BNB: the Concord C1 Tourbillon Gravity (lot 125) with its deconstructed tourbillon shown in a window at the bottom right corner of the case. I’ll be curious to see how this one does.

Concord C1 Tourbillon Gravity

Concord C1 Tourbillon Gravity

Quick Facts Concord C1 Tourbillon Gravity
Case: 48.5 x 18.5 mm, white gold with black rubber accents
Movement: manually wound Caliber C100 with one-minute tourbillon seemingly disconnected from the movement
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve indication, flyback chronograph, “trust index” (balance amplitude index)
Auction estimate: $25,000-$50,000
Result: $42,500

Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370

The Parmigiani Bugatti watch also ushered in an era of its own, and this Type 370 example (lot 127) from 2004 exemplifies the very limited series well (see Parmigiani Bugatti & Bugatti Chiron: Pushing The Limits).

Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370

Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370

Quick Facts Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370
Case: 33 x 52 mm, white gold
Movement: manually wound Caliber PF370 with ten-day power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; power reserve indication
Limitation: 50 pieces (this is number 49)
Auction estimate: $56,000-$88,000
Result: not sold

Richard Mille RM 012

Limited-edition Richard Mille watches are becoming more of a common sight at auction these days as more pieces get into circulation (see Richard Mille’s Top 10 Auction Pieces Of 2015), which is why we shouldn’t be too surprised to see one of only 30 pieces of the 2006 RM 012 (lot 128) in rare-for-this-brand platinum make an appearance here.

Richard Mille RM012

Richard Mille RM012

Quick Facts Richard Mille RM 012 AG PT
Case: 48 x 39.30 x 13.84 mm, platinum
Movement: manually wound Caliber RM 012, skeletonized, with one-minute tourbillon; gear train and tourbillon cage in Anticorodal 100 (aluminum alloy)
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation 30 pieces (this is number 30)
Auction estimate: $100,000-$160,000
Result: $457,500

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Watch

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Watch (lot 151), launched to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Royal Oak in 2002, was one of the first superwatches in the world. I haven’t seen too many of these pop up at auction yet.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Watch

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Watch

Learn more about it at The 2002 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Watch Is One Of The First “Superwatches.” Plus Return Of Its Designer, Claude Emmenegger.

Quick Facts Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Watch
Case: 44 mm, Alacrite 602 and titanium bezel
Movement: manually wound Caliber 2896 with one-minute tourbillon
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; dynamographe displaying mainspring torque, crown function system, linear power reserve indicator (70 hours)
Limitation: 150 pieces manufactured between 2002 and 2004
Original retail price: 250,000 Swiss francs in 2002
Auction estimate: $130,000-$200,000
Result: $175,000

A. Lange & Söhne Datograph

It is absolutely no secret how enamored I am of German watches, and that is certainly a big reason that this A. Lange & Söhne Datograph (lot 168) from the year 2003 (the catalogue falsely writes that it is from 2000) caught my eye as I scrolled through the auction’s offerings. Datographs – widely considered one of the best chronographs in the world – come up at auction with regular frequency.

Diamond-set A. Lange & Söhne Datograph

Diamond-set A. Lange & Söhne Datograph

But what I have genuinely never seen before is a Datograph with serious diamond setting. I’m sorely tempted to bid on lot 168 myself.

Quick Facts A. Lange & Söhne Datograph Reference 815.026
Case: 40 x 13 mm, platinum with 48 baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel (4.5 ct)
Dial: solid gold, silvered, pavé-set diamond center (112 diamonds, 0.34 ct); luminous rhodium-plated gold hands
Movement: manually wound A. Lange & Söhne Caliber L951.1, 36-hour power reserve, 2.5 Hz / 18,000 vph
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; large date, flyback chronograph with precisely jumping minute counter
Original launch: SIHH 2003; only a very few have been sold of this serial model
Auction estimate: $135,000-$185,000
Result: $143,750

Richard Mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal

This auction also boasts the first Richard Mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal (lot 170) to appear at auction ever: this model is one of the lightest wristwatches ever made.

Richard Mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal

Richard Mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal

And it pays tribute to one of the greatest sportsmen of our time (see Richard Mille RM 27-02 For Rafael Nadal: The Quintessential Sports Tourbillon).

Quick Facts Richard Mille RM 35-01 Rafael Nadal
Case: 42 x 49.94 x 14.05 mm, NTPT carbon
Movement: manually wound Caliber RMUL3, skeletonized, free-sprung balance with variable inertia
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation 30 pieces (this is number 30)
Auction estimate: $80,000-$120,000
Result: $118,750