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The Most Talked-About Timepieces at The Upcoming Hong Kong Watch Auction: XI

By Angelyn Kwek

Left: Lot 873 Patek Philippe Ref. 5740/1G-001in 18K white gold, Est. HK$1,150,000 - 1,800,000.
Right: Lot 967 Cartier Crash Skeleton in 18K pink gold and crocodile strap, Est. HK$255,000 - 510,000.

Calling all horophiles — the Hong Kong Watch Auction: XI (HKWAXI) is just around the corner, and it’s one slated for the record books as an immaculate curation of timepieces will be going under the gavel. 

This comes as a response to a record-breaking Spring season in which the 10th rendition held earlier in July saw unrivalled sell-through rates; an accomplishment that speaks to the gravitas of Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo as the premier market leader for the finest collectors’ watches at auction. To that end, the HKWAXI, happening at the JW Marriott in Hong Kong on 29 November, will be rolling out over 250 lots that comprise vintage and modern timepieces, with novelties from both heritage and independent watchmakers.

As shared by Thomas Perazzi, Head of Watches, Phillips Asia: “After the two successful online sales assembled by Phillips’ Hong Kong watch department where all the watches offered found a new home, we are excited to present a thoughtfully curated sale, featuring a fine selection of vintage and contemporary wristwatches and exquisite enameled dome clocks.”

Headliners include Patek Philippe, Rolex, Richard Mille, Audemars Piguet and Panerai, a discerning presentation to whet the appetites of watch collectors this side of the hemisphere where discontinued or hard to acquire Pateks and Rolexes are often sought after objets d’art.

Above: Lot 967 Cartier Crash Skeleton in 18K pink gold and crocodile strap, Est. HK$255,000 - 510,000.

Perazzi says, “The wide selection that we have the privilege of presenting in the Hong Kong Watch Auction: XI includes a historically important Panerai collection from a Japanese collector who is an aficionado of the Italian watch manufacturer; a series of the rarest and well-preserved Rolex vintage examples such as the reference 16750 made for the Royal Oman Police Force and reference 6239 in yellow gold fitted with a beautiful champagne ‘Paul Newman’ dial; and a dynamic selection of complicated Patek Philippe from reference 5372P, which is the first example to be offered publicly, to a timeless-designed reference 2438 in yellow gold.”

Past auctions have also revealed a growing trend towards sales of independents such as FP Journe, De Bethune, and H. Moser & Cie in addition to watches from heritage powerhouses. As reported by the Phillips watch team, there is steady uptick in demand from Asia clients and collectors for unique and uncommon timepieces, be it vintage timepieces notably hailing from the ’80s from brands like Cartier and Audemars Piguet or haute horlogerie of a more contemporary make.

Left: Lot 931 Patek Philippe Grand Complications reference 5372P-001 in platinum with crocodile strap, Est. HK$2,600,000 - 5,000,000.
Right: Lot 873 Patek Philippe Ref. 5740/1G-001in 18K white gold, Est. HK$1,150,000 - 1,800,000.

In fact, leading this season’s auction is a Patek Philippe Grand Complications reference 5372P-001 from 2019, featuring a 38.3mm diameter blue sunburst dial with a rare platinum perpetual calendar single-button split-seconds chronograph along with moon phases, leap year, and a day and night indicator. An impressive statement piece that stands apart from all its other counterparts and predecessors — the split-seconds chronograph ref. 5370 comes to mind — the dial no longer displays day and month windows above the signature at 12 o’clock and is instead replaced by moon phases, while the day aperture is positioned at 9 o’clock and the month aperture is located opposite at 3 o’clock. Furthermore, it’ll be the first time that this reference, aka Lot 931, is offered at a Phillips auction.

Another star offering to satisfy the Patek collectors is Lot 873, which is the Patek Philippe reference 5740/1G-001, otherwise known as the first Nautilus with a perpetual calendar function. Housed in a rare white gold case within which beats the self-winding calibre 240 Q, this is one of thinnest perpetual calendars produced by the manufacture, and the beauty of its clockwork can be observed through the sapphire case back where one can see the recessed 22K gold micro-rotor engraved with the firm's Calatrava cross emblem and a côtes de Genève finished to the movement. With a 24-hour indication, leap year, and moon phases, this one’s a modern classic that is similarly fresh to the market.

Above: Lot 1031 A. Lange & Söhne Double Split Chronograph in platinum with crocodile strap, Est. HK$280,000 - 560,000.

The third highlight is HKWAXI Lot 1031’s A. Lange & Söhne Double Split dating from 2005, which is one of the earliest examples of a flyback chronograph with a double rattrapante mechanism. Presented in platinum with a signature matte black dial contrasted by silvery registers, the 43mm-sized chronograph is equipped with the in-house calibre L001.1 — a complex movement made up of no less than 465 individual components—to power functions such as lap time measures and time comparisons.

Left: Lot 828 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona in 18K white gold and diamonds with crocodile strap, Est. HK$545,000 - 1,090,000.
Right: Lot 900 Van Cleef & Arpels Lady Arpels Pont des Amoureux in 18K white gold with crocodile strap, Est. HK$350,000 - 700,000.

Though if it’s a diamond-studded watch that one is on the hunt for, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona in 18K white gold from Lot 828 will grab your fancy, what with a bezel studded with baguette-cut diamonds and sapphires, diamond-set endlinks, and a full pavé-set diamond dial complemented by blue enamel Arabic numerals. Indeed, this is a 40mm diameter’s worth of extravagance that exemplifies not only the horological know-how of Rolex, but also its artisanal craftsmanship in gem setting. In a similar vein, the fifth highlight of note is the iconic Cartier Crash Skeleton from Lot 967, another artisan marvel with possibly the most radical design ahead of its time when it launched in 1967. Surviving the test of time with a re-issue of a limited batch of 67 pieces in 2016, this circa 2019 piece is an openwork 18K pink gold version, seamlessly integrated with skeletonised bridges crafted with Roman numerals and complemented by striking blue sword-shaped hands. It houses a sculpted movement, the manual calibre 9618 MC, unique to its contours, and its 45.3mm-sized frame allows for it to be worn by both men and women. 

Ladies can also look forward to Lot 900’s Lady Arpels Pont des Amoureux by Van Cleef & Arpels, where romantic and whimsical are apt descriptors for this 38mm white gold and diamond-set bi-retrograde wristwatch. As is the won't of the acclaimed Parisian jeweller, this exquisite piece is created with a combination of enameling, miniaturised mechanics and traditional craftsmanship—and it all comes together on a dial that indicates the time through depictions of love via with a pair of sweethearts crossing France’s famous kissing bridge in Annecy. The hours are indicated on the left by the lady, while her lover on the opposite side indicates the minutes as they get closer until they finally meet in the middle to kiss at noon and midnight. It is unsurprising, that this was most demanded women’s timepiece when it launched. 

Above: Lot 845 Richard Mille RM022 Aerodyne “Camouflage” in ceramic and carbon with rubber strap, HK$2,350,000 - 4,700,000.

Finally, a limited-edition brown ceramic Richard Mille RM022 from Lot 845 will have the mavericks clamouring for this extremely rare masterpiece. Also known as the ‘Aerodyne’ due to its use of aerospace materials, this 2018 re-release not only rocks that signature tonneau-shaped frame, it is equipped with a honeycomb-patterned baseplate cut out and created by a special material called orthorhombic titanium aluminide for its lightweight yet indestructible properties. A manual winding tourbillon movement with hours, minutes and dual time zone on a transparent sapphire crystal disc is mounted directly on top, with the latter function coming into view when suspended above the light-coloured field located at 3 o'clock. It also hosts a power reserve indicator between 11 and 12 o’clock, a torque indicator that shows the main spring's internal tension and a function selector to show the watch's state in each of the positions for winding, neutral, and hand setting. 

Intended by Richard Mille to be made specially for the European market with only 10 pieces worldwide, this is the first time this particular RM022 is publicly available for auction and is definitely not to be missed.


Phillips Hong Kong Watch Auction: XI launches 29 November and will be held in 2 sessions; Session 1 (Lot 801 - 931) begins 12PM, and Session 2 (Lot 932 - 1052) begins at 4PM. For the full Fall 2020 catalogue and more details for online bidding, visit Phillips here.

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