rolex cosmograph daytona lot 218 christies 2017 02
Vintage & Auctions

Our favorite chronographs from the Christie’s May 17 auction

Should you be looking for a chronograph to complete your collection or for a first buy, then you landed at the right place.

By Audrey Humbert

Needless to remind you why chronograph mechanisms are so fascinating.  They are found in most watch collections and also led to the creation of a number of chronographs only collections. This mechanism, which can be either cam-actuated or fitted with a column-wheel, is meant to be one of the most complicated of all to achieve.

Heuer Autavia chronograph – Lot 29 – Estimate : CHF20,000 - 30,000

Despite this fact, chronographs are commonly produced because they benefit from such a great popularity among watch aficionados and also because mastering the manufacturing of a chronograph is a testimony of one's know-how. Having said this, there is a number of criteria that should be taken into account when buying a chronograph.

Universal Genève UPH bezel – Lot 28 – Estimate : CHF12,000 - 22,000

Not every manufacturer is capable to produce such a caliber of his own meaning that various brands could carry the same movement-blank or might even used finished movements.  Understanding these connexions is part of the fun. The level of finishing will also widely differ from one brand to another and this partly explains the strong difference of price between two designs who might look like twins but have a completely different inside.

The consequence is that you may acquire your very first chronograph timepiece at a very affordable price but yet have a very charmy vintage piece to wear on your wrist daily. Lots 6 and 8 are quoted CHF 3'000 to CHF 5'000 with the Tavannes example fitted with the broadly used Valjoux caliber 22.

Tavannes chronograph – Lot 8 – Estimate : CHF3,000 - 5,000

Moving to lot 20, we find an Omega with its attractive two-tone look including a pink dial and a stainless steel case. The brand has a long tradition of producing this complication. The present example includes calibre 33.3CHRO like the preceding lot that is a highly sought-after single button version. Both are witnessing how two watches bearing the same caliber can show such a different identity. So if you intend to wear your acquisition, be sure to choose the one that will be like second nature to you.

Omega chronograph – Lot 20 – Estimate : CHF15,000 - 25,000

Another brand that one can hardly avoid when speaking of chronographs is Rolex and more specifically the Daytona Paul Newman model. Two striking examples are featured among the afternoon session of the sale that will be dedicated to Rolex timepieces.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona "Paul Newman John Player" – Lot 216 – Estimate : CHF200,000 - 400,000

While lot 216 is a rare example crafted in 14k gold proudly featuring a black dial with gold registers and outer scale, lot 218, a slightly later example fitted with caliber 727, offers the reverse colour combination. It displays a tropical  lemon dial with brown registers and outer scale encased in 18k gold. The strong and homogenous tropicalisation of the latter renders this example very unique and will probably undergo fierce bidding.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona "Paul Newman Lemon Dial"– Lot 218 – Estimate : CHF500,000 - 800,000

Lot 282 will conclude the sale with an extremely rare Rolex adorned with a green Khanjar.

Rolex Oyster Cosmograph "Khanjar" – Lot 282 – Estimate : CHF320,000 - 420,000

The thouroughly curated selection by Christie's specialists also includes other timepieces which deserve full attention such as lot 175 that is a time-only Rolex reference 6098 with the highly desirable star dial. The present example is considered as one of eight known to exist.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual – Lot 175 – Estimate : CHF80,000 - 120,000

Of course, we could not conclude this article without mentionning the Patek Philippe reference 2497 that was presented to the Emperor Haile Selassie and that is expected as the main focus of this auction.

Patek Philippe "Staybrite" chronograph – Lot 164 – Estimate : CHF150,000 - 250,000

Full catalogue available online here

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