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Vintage & Auctions

It’s Complicated: 10 Hot Lots From Ineichen’s Date & Calendar Watch Themed Auction

This Saturday, Zurich-based Ineichen Auctioneers will host its “Complications: Dates & Calendars” themed watch auction. We take a look at some of the eye-catching lots, including rare pieces by Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Daniel Roth, and Andersen Genève.

By Marco Gabella
Chairman & Executive Publisher

Ineichen Auctioneers is at it again. The innovative Zurich-based auction house, known for its “no buyer’s premium” policy, is getting ready to hold its second horological complications-themed auction. And this time the focus is on rare date and calendar watches!

Following the success of its Complications: Skeletons & Tourbillons sale in October, Ineichen is once again putting a mouth-watering selection of hard-to-find, complicated timepieces under the hammer at its Complications: Dates & Calendars auction this weekend. With pre-bidding on Ineichen’s website already underway, the live auction will kick off this Saturday, December 3rd at 14:00 CET both online and in Zurich.
 

What’s more, Ineichen will add a “Fixed Price” option at the auction, giving bidders the chance to skip the bidding process and buy their desired lot directly, for a fixed sum. This option has until now only been available at the auctioneer’s Timed Pieces and Art sales, but is now set to be a feature of all Ineichen auctions.

Definitely One To Watch

While date displays and calendar complications first appeared in pocket watches in the early 19th century, their integration into mechanical wristwatches only began in earnest just over a hundred years ago. Indeed, the first date wristwatch – featuring a pointer display – was patented in 1915. Over the next few decades, date-window, triple calendar, and perpetual calendar wristwatches followed, with the annual calendar wristwatch a more recent invention: The first was Patek Philippe’s Ref. 5035 released in 1996.
 

Ineichen has now chosen to honor the date and calendar wristwatch for its themed sale this weekend. Given the promising results of October’s Complications: Skeletons & Tourbillons auction where all but one of the 50 lots sold for higher than their upper estimate, this Saturday’s date and calendar-focused sale auction will definitely be one to watch.
 

All the more so because, once again, Ineichen has assembled an incredible catalog featuring pieces by top historical brands and acclaimed independent watchmakers. Below is my selection of the top ten lots. Whittling down all the lots to just ten was a veritable challenge for a watch lover like me, but in the end, it was a case of “mission accomplished.”

Lot 54: Audemars Piguet Platinum Perpetual Calendar

Skeleton versions of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar (Ref. 25829) have been highly sought after at recent watch auctions, reflected in some impressive hammer prices. While not skeletonized, this Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in platinum with stunning mother-of-pearl dial – believed to belong to the early period of reference 25820, from the late 1990s/early 2000s – is one of the most hard-to-find Royal Oak iterations. The tussle between bidders for it promises to be an intense one as this unicorn is unlikely to be seen at auction again any time soon. With a starting price of CHF 120,000, pre-bidding is already hotting up nicely, with over 28 bids so far ensuring this one won’t hammer for anything less than CHF 255,000.
 

Lot 1: Breguet Serpentine

Saturday’s auction will serve up a superb range of Breguet watches including this Serpentine Ref. 3040BA, originally purchased in 1994. After the Chaumet brothers took over the company in the 1970s, Breguet relaunched, with master watchmaker Daniel Roth helping to develop the calibers and style of the brand’s collection. Featuring a perpetual calendar movement with moonphase developed by Roth and a 36mm yellow-gold case, this Serpentine exudes classic Breguet style. Carrying an upper estimate of CHF 8,000, this lot is definitely an opportunity to acquire a piece of relatively recent high-end watchmaking history for a very decent price.
 

Lot 8: Vacheron Constantin 52 Weeks

Launched in 1994, the Vacheron Constantin Ref. 47052 52 is a triple calendar wristwatch with day, date, moonphase and 52-week indicator on the periphery of the dial. As the trend for oversized watches wanes and collectors embrace smaller sizes again, this 36mm yellow-gold Ref. 47052 should definitely hold plenty of appeal for bidders. As original as it is refined, this piece – carrying a starting price of CHF 8,000 – is a hidden gem just asking to be snapped up.
 

Lot 20: A. Lange & Söhne Lange Moonphase 1

Accounting for no fewer than 11 lots, A. Lange & Söhne and its diverse range of remarkable, complicated watches is well represented at this auction. Among the classic pieces spawned under Günter Blümlein’s stewardship – which helped establish the brand’s DNA and forge its reputation – I am choosing this astonishing Lange Moonphase 1. Dating from 2019, this example in white gold features the classic decentralized hour and minute display with Roman numerals, big date indicator at 1 o'clock, power reserve indicator between 2 and 4 o'clock, and moon phase display with small seconds at 5 o'clock. The blue gradient moon disc provides a striking contrast with the depth of the black dial, like a blue opening in a stormy sky. I can see this contemporary classic going for much more than its CHF 25,000 upper estimate.
 

Lot 22: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Grande Date Septantième

When hosting a major complication, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso always offers a unique playground for movement constructors as they can display functions and reveal mechanical wonders on both sides of the watch. Carrying an upper estimate of CHF 20,000, this Ref. 240.6.90 features big date, power reserve and day-and-night indicators. Launched in 2002 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Reverso, it was part of a limited edition of 500 pieces in platinum. There is a before-its-time quality about the gray, engine-turned dial, which lends this piece a modernity which still holds up two decades after its release.
 

Lot 28: Daniel Roth Masters Calendar

Among Daniel Roth’s phenomenal creations, his perpetual calendars are some of the most memorable and desirable. This Master’s Calendar (Ref. 118.L.60.011) displays perpetual calendar, moonphase and leap year functions in a thoroughly unique configuration, on a linearly guilloched dial framed by Roth’s signature double ellipse-shaped Ellipsocurvex case, here in white gold. Carrying an upper estimate of CHF 25,000, this example gives collectors a chance to snaffle a rare bird: It is thought that only a handful of these have been made so, understandably, they seldom appear at auction.
 

Lot 29: F.P.Journe Octa Lune

When François-Paul Journe took the plunge and started the F.P.Journe brand in 1999, he knew that in addition to offering the complicated and the complex-to-make – such as his Tourbillon Souverain or Chronomètre à Résonance – he would also need a simpler offering that allowed for the eventual integration of complications. And so, the Octa was born, going on to form the bedrock of one of Journe’s most popular and enduring collections. Dating from 2006, this platinum Octa Lune marries the classic Octa hour-minute subdial, big date and power reserve indicator with a moonphase indicator. Visually, it represents a remarkable feat of finding “balance in imbalance”, and wouldn’t be out of place in the Museum of Modern Art’s architecture and design collection.
 

Lot 40: Parmigiani Fleurier Perpetual Calendar Rose Gold

Introduced in the mid-2000s, this Parmigiani Fleurier beauty hosts the gorgeous caliber 332, an automatic retrograde perpetual calendar with leap year indicator. It is very much in keeping with Michel Parmiginani’s vision of watchmaking, nurtured by his own journey as a restorer of innovative pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries. Its Toric case in rose gold – a Parmigiani signature design – is inspired by classic pocket watches. Carrying an estimate of CHF 15,000 to CHF 20,000, this one should be seriously considered by bidders at Saturday’s auction.
 

Lot 42: Andersen Genève Chronometre Perpetual WG

One of the founding fathers of the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendant (AHCI), Svend Andersen opened his own workshop in the late 1970s after spending nine years working in Patek Philippe’s Atelier des Complications. He had already unveiled the smallest calendar watch ever before creating this stunning double-sided white-gold perpetual calendar in the 1990s. The beauty of this piece lies in how Andersen juxtaposes the complexity of the perpetual calendar mechanism with a thoroughly minimalist design, which sees a single calendar date display on the dial, and a month and leap year indicator on the back. Such a pared-down approach has been embraced by contemporary brands like H. Moser & Cie. Carrying an upper estimate of CHF 20,000, the Chronometre Perpetual should be on the wish lists of all collectors looking for a slice of watchmaking uniqueness.
 

Lot 43: De Bethune Perpetual Calendar DB15

Released in 2004, two years after De Bethune was founded by David Zanetta and Denis Flageollet, the DB15 introduced the ground-breaking spherical moonphase indicator which has now become a cornerstone of the brand’s DNA. With its segmented case design far removed from the neo-classical DB25 or the retro-futurist DB28, this DB15 in white gold perfectly encapsulates De Bethune’s radical vision of contemporary watchmaking. I find it as expressive and as intricate as a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting. While its starting price is CHF 70’000, you can bet that this one will hammer for something close to a record price for this reference, such is the current demand for De Bethune’s early pieces.
 

Register to Bid Now

The beauty of Ineichen’s themed auctions is their laser-like focus that allows collectors and investors to fully digest each gem up for grabs. Ineichen’s format entails a relatively small catalog of timepieces, chosen according to a clear theme. In this way, each watch can be properly highlighted, rather than becoming lost in a sea of hundreds of disparate pieces, as can happen at two-day auctions.

Ineichen Auctioneer’s “Complications: Dates & Calendars” auction will take place this Saturday, December 3rd at 14:00 CET both online and in Zurich. To see full details of all the lots and to register to bid, please visit the Ineichen Auctioneers website.

(Images © Ineichen Auctioneers)

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