Universal Genève A.Cairelli

Report: Sotheby's Important Watches sale of 13 november 2012 @ Geneva

The Genevan auction marathon ended at Sotheby's , an event led by the likeable Geoffroy Ader. It was the last opportunity for the collectors and the sellers to enjoy themselves, to make a good deal or to cheer up after the competing auction houses' sales.

The interesting catalog proposes a nice selection of vintage pieces as well as very appealing contemporary watches, especially several Patek Philippe.
However, one could have wished for one or two "top lots" besides the highlight of this auction which is the topic of this article.

LOT 158: The first auction was the centerpiece of the sale; this minute repeater 2524 signed "Patek Philippe for Tiffany & Co". This watch is special because it is the first known reference produced by the jeweler from New York, and also because it features an uncommonly sized repeater control. In addition, this movement was manufactured in 1954 but was cased-up in 1961.

There probably are no more than 50 existing copies of the reference 2524/1 launched in 1955 and produced until the end of the 60's. Finally, the model originally featured a seconds sub-dial, but this piece is one of five which don't.

This custom piece ordered by a businessman from New-York had all it takes to exceed its highest estimated price (350,000 CHF), and it has been the case,  with a hammer price of 542,500 CHF.

LOT 72: Now, let's go back to the interesting pieces which attracted us and the auctioneers. First of all, we have been impressed by the general interest triggered by a Universal Genève, a large "split second" chronograph with single pusher, delivered by the Roman house Cairelli to the Italian Air Force in 1945.

One has to remember that watch lovers are familiar with this house since the famous Zenith chronograph from the beginning of the 60's.

The piece merely reached double its estimated price, with a hammer price of 122,500 CHF. It is probably one of the most expensive Universal Genève ever to have been sold and one of the most difficult to find military watches. Let's bet that an Italian collector succumbed to its charms.

Lot 71 : In the same style of pieces, a Portuguese IWC ref 325 from 1942 was hammered-down for about 32,500 CHF. It is worth pointing out that the same type of piece has been sold at Christie's a little above its estimated price. Some historically interesting watches haven't triggered any special enthusiasm.

Lot 100: It is often noticeable that the auction room empties a bit during the pocket watch auctions; it might be the reason why the rare and interesting Gustave Sandoz padlock watch was sold for 6000 CHF, merely half the estimated price. Indeed, pocket watches do not appeal to all collectors.

Lot 152 : Also proposed at the end of the morning session, a gold Omega chronograph OT2393 from 1949, with a very attractive dial; it did not trigger passion as its hammer price has not exceeded 14.000  CHF.

Would the collectors have preferred a watch with enameled dial of the same brand as the one which the buyers fought over the previous night at the Hotel des Bergues ?

The afternoon session is dedicated to the Rolex and Patek Philippe, which dominate the Genevan auctions every year.

Lot 195: The first lot is the rare Rolex Submariner ref.6204, which merely reached its highest estimated price, 15,000 CHF.

Lot 234: The very rare Rolex Submariner ref.5510  and its tropic dial has not been sold, while its estimated price ranged from 60 to 100,000 CHF.

If the results of both these Submariner did not surprise us, the lot. ref.235, a 5512 from 1959 (the year the model was launched, and which featured a new design of crown guard) reached a hammer price of twice its highest estimated price, with 74,500 CHF !

Lot 156: The other highlight of the sale was undoubtly the Patek Philippe 2438 Perpetual Calendar for Tiffany & Co, sold in 1948. This was is really rare, and as the other "big Patek" of the auction week, she has reach the highest estimation, without exceed it. Final bid: 278,500 CHF.

Lot 224: Finally, the pre-Vendome Mare Nostrum was hammered-down for 23,750 CHF, a bit above its highest estimate. A watch which is a bargain especially for some Paneristi.

Lot 226: While the Panerai Radiomir ref.3646 from 1940 triggered an offering joust and reached almost twice its highest estimate, with a hammer price of 92,500 CHF.
One has to keep in mind that some collectors remain cautious with the Panerai vintage; indeed, the Florentine brand does not have archives regarding its production during this period, even though this watch has been certified by Angelo Bonati himself.

Finally, Sotheby's achieved a great auction, as it has become one of the main actors at the Genevan auctions. One shall remember this Patek Philippe Minute Repeater, which, by the way, was displayed on the auction catalog cover. Let's hope their next auction will bring some nice surprises.

All results of Important watches sale of 13 november of 2012 on the Sotheby's website.

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