Antiquorum has become one of the world’s leading vintage watch auction houses since it was established in 1974. With centers in Geneva, Monaco and Hong Kong hosting around 10 sales a year, the event on November 12th sees the company returning to its roots.
Back in 1989, Antiquorum marked the 150th anniversary of one of Switzerland’s oldest and most illustrious watchmaking firms with ‘The Art of Patek Philippe’ sale, the first ever themed auction of its kind.
Recently appointed CEO Romain Réa is looking to strengthen Antiquorum’s prestigious reputation with a series of new thematic events concentrating on the works of a single manufacturer and, fittingly, his first auction in charge focuses again on Patek, and their most famous creation.
Held at the Grand Hotel Kempinski, Geneva, ‘The Art of Calatrava’ actually commemorates three significant milestones for the emblematic name. 2017 is the 130th anniversary of the registration of the Calatrava Cross as a commercial symbol. It is also the 85th anniversary of the release of the ref. 96 case, their rounded watch shape more commonly known as the Calatrava, and in addition, it marks 35 years since the introduction of the first Calatrava publication in the Patek Philippe catalog.
In amongst the 597 lots on offer in the sale are 40 Calatrava pieces dating from 1932 to the end of the 20th century. It is a highly impressive retrospective of one of horology’s fabled designs.
Table of Contents:
The Catalog at Antiquorum 2017:
With the better part of 600 lots to get through, the pace at Antiquorum events is always electric. As well as some of Patek’s finest, there are other gems waiting to go under the hammer.
Below are some of the standout pieces.
Lot 401: Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 96 Steel
A piece of watchmaking folklore and one sure to create a huge buzz on the night, this reference 96 Calatrava is believed to be among the first everproduced.
Although the model was manufactured in a variety of precious metals, the steel examples have always been the most desirable, for their rarity value and for the fact that many were custom ordered.
This piece dating from 1933 is thought to be one such bespoke model, making it a unique find.
A starkly beautiful timepiece in exceptional condition, the case back is engraved with a circular Patek Philippe signature and the Caliber 12 movement is stamped with a double Poinçon de Genève, the official quality seal of the Watchmaking School of Geneva.
Estimate: CHF 20,000-40,000
Lot 576: Rolex Oyster Chronograph ref. 4500
Before the Daytona became the last word in chronographs, the ref. 4500 from Rolex, otherwise known as the ‘Monoblocco’ due to its integrated bezel, paved the way with several design cues that marked an important turning point in the brand’s signature styling.
The exceptionally rare black dial, pink gold example from the Geneva auction was launched around 1945 and features the concave lugs and tonneau-shaped case that would later find their way onto the Datejust.
Its round pushers and two subdials give it a definite pre-Daytona DNA, while the gold tachymeter scale can be found engraved on the outer track of the watch face rather than the bezel.
In all, this early manually-wound Rolex chronograph is a fascinating example—one that is certain to attract some spirited bidding.
Estimate: CHF 100,000-150,000
Lot 395: Panerai, Luminor Marina Militare Prototype ref. 5218-201/A
A very familiar profile with an intriguing link to two household names.
The Panerai Luminor was the exclusive preserve of Royal Italian Navy commandos for nearly 60 years before finally being offered for sale to the public in 1993.
In that year, Officine Panerai released three limited edition models; the Mare Nostrum, the Luminor and this, the Luminor Marina. The ref. 5218-201/A garnered the nickname ‘Logo’ after the large ‘OP’ trademark above the six o’clock position.
With a 44mm case, it’s slightly smaller than the standard military-issue pieces dating back to 1935, but that cushion-shaped body with its encompassing crown guard is unmistakable.
One of the most iconic silhouettes in horology, it has gained fans all over the world, including a certain Sylvester Stallone, who fell in love with the Luminor after spying one in the shop window of an Italian jewelers in 1995.
The Hollywood heavyweight wore a special edition of the watch in his movie Daylight, as well as ordering a number of further examples to give as gifts to friends.
The gold plated version going under the hammer in November was presented by him to Arnold Schwarzenegger at the opening of the Berlin Hard Rock Café in 1996.
A stunning watch with a great story and a long pedigree, it’s sure to be one of the show’s highlights—and we’ll just have to wonder why Arnie’s parting with it!
Estimate: CHF 15,000-25,000
Lot 85: Omega Constellation Marine Chronometer Megaquartz
Something of a wildcard entry for a vintage Swiss watch auction, the Marine Chronometer from Omega is a quartz timepiece harking from the industry’s darkest days in the 1970s.
Known for many years as the most accurate wristwatch in the world, its performance in some tests put its mean variation at less than 0.002 seconds per day—10 times more accurate than even other quartz movements.
The caliber 1516 inside this example identifies it as the ref. ST398.0832
released in 1975, a 2.4 MHz steel watch with a 14k yellow gold bezel, emblazoned with ‘Marine Chronometer’ above the black dial.
Its design features and box-like shape give it the air of a real seventies throwback, but it remains a fascinating piece of watchmaking history and an impressive technical achievement even today, with a very tempting price tag.
Estimate: CHF 2,000-4,000
Antiquorum sales are always packed with some of the most desirable watches you could hope to find, and The Art of Calatrava event maintains their fine tradition. November previews in Hong Kong and Geneva lead up to the auction on the 12th, and we’ll be sure to report back with results in the upcoming weeks.