Watches you need to know about from Christie’s upcoming Watches Online: The Dubai Edit auction

A preview of five watches that are set to get top billing at Christie’s upcoming Watches Online: The Dubai Edit
The spring-summer auction season is well underway now and it will be interesting to see how auction houses fare in the first half of the year given all the geo-political and economic challenges hogging the headlines these days. However, as the Christie’s Watches Online: Top of the Time auction in Hong Kong in March proved, people are still willing to pay top dollar for truly collectible timepieces. A Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon Ref. 6002G-001 offered at this auction was sold for HKD 45,450,000 (US $5.8 million), a new record for a watch sold online at any auction.

The spotlight now shifts to Dubai, a city that has now emerged as a global hub for vintage and collectible watches. Watches Online: The Dubai Edit, from April 24 – May 4, 2023, will once again feature a selection of modern and vintage collectible watches, curated by our Dubai-based team of watch specialists.

Here’s a look at five highlights from the upcoming auction.

Richard Mille RM 69 Erotic Tourbillon
Richard Mille is best known for high-performance wristwatches made with avant-garde materials developed in partnership with a roster of elite athletes like Rafael Nadal, Felipe Massa, and Bubba Watson. However, every now and then the brand likes to shock its audience with a quirky little complication that’s unlike anything else out there.

Richard Mille RM 69 Erotic Tourbillon

The RM 69 is the brand’s take on the ‘Erotic Watches’ genre, a category of timepieces that traces its origins back to a few hundred years ago. Whilst the pocket watches and wristwatches of yore featured automaton figurines, Richard Mille’s reinterpretation is more subtle. Central to this idea is a combination of three rollers in the top half of the open-worked dial that displays a random sequence of words that form a naughty titillating message every time the pusher at 10 o’ clock is activated.

The only other distraction on the dial is a tourbillon at 6 o’ clock, which in any other wristwatch would have taken centre-stage. Launched in 2015, the watch was produced in an extremely limited run of 30 pieces and the list of celebrities spotted wearing this watch include Travis Scott and Drake. Whimsical, ingenious, and extremely exclusive, the RM69 is a wristwatch like no other.

Est: US $800,000 – US $1,200,000

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 4100BA ‘Maktoum Dial’
The Royal Oak Ref. 4100 was launched in 1977 as a mid-size version (35mm) of the iconic Ref. 5402 (39mm). Designed by Jacqueline Dimier, it was also the first Royal Oak to be equipped with a centre seconds hands. Right from the outset, it was produced in steel, yellow gold, and two-tone versions. According to Audemars Piguet, around 2,130 pieces were made in yellow gold between 1977 and 1988.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 4100BA ‘Maktoum Dial’

The present lot has the distinction of carrying the name of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the current ruler of Dubai, who was in the 1980s the Defence Minister of the United Arab Emirates. To accommodate his signature on the top half of the dial, the Audemars Piguet script has been moved to bottom half. Sheikh Mohammad’s name has appeared on vintage Rolex wristwatches in the past, but we’ve hardly seen any on vintage Audemars Piguet models. This is a rare opportunity for the discerning few to acquire a really special vintage Royal Oak.

Est: US $30,000 – US $50,000

Parmigiani Fleurier PF Tonda Split Seconds Chronograph Platinum
Belying his unassuming persona, Michel Parmigiani remains among the top watchmakers of his generation. An independent watchmaker who cut his teeth restoring complicated pocketwatches and 18th-century automatons, he set up his eponymous watch brand in 1996 and is one of the few vertically integrated watch companies in the industry today.

Offered for the first time at any public auction, this particular timepiece, a bonafide horological heavyweight, was introduced in 2021 to mark the brand’s 25th anniversary. It was based on the GPHG award-winning Parmigiani Tonda Chronor Anniversaire that was launched to mark the brand’s 15th anniversary. The most striking feature of this watch was the introduction of the maison’s first integrated chronograph movement, hand-finished and crafted in rose gold.

Parmigiani Fleurier PF Tonda Split Seconds Chronograph Platinum

The manual-winding chronograph has a split-seconds function and an impressive 65 hours of power reserve. It remains among the few high-beat chronograph movements (the balance wheel oscillates at 36,000 vph allowing for 1/10th of a second elapsed time measurements). The movement, visible thanks to a sapphire crystal caseback has open-worked bridges made from 18K rose gold, twin column wheels, and a vertical clutch. 

Not every manufacturer today is capable of producing an integrated high-beat chronograph movement, let alone one with a rattrapante function. This timepiece, one of only 25 pieces produced, has a platinum dial that’s framed by an all-platinum case and bracelet, and is offered in like-new condition from the original owner.

Est: US $120,000 – US $220,000

Patek Philippe Ref. 3970 EP, a platinum perpetual calendar chronograph with a special dial
The Patek Philippe Ref. 3970 was the successor to the Ref. 2499, arguably the greatest perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch produced by any company. The Ref. 3970 remained in production until 2004 and is broken down into four series, each slightly different than the other. Though often dwarfed at the auctions by its illustrious predecessors, the Ref. 2499 and the Ref. 1518, prices of 3970 references have been steadily climbing over the last four years. The Ref. 3970 is dear to many because it is the last of the vintage-size (36mm) Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronographs - the Ref. 5970 (40mm) and the Ref. 5270 (41mm) are both sized for modern wrists.  

Patek Philippe Ref. 3970 EP

This particular example is from the fourth series of production but what distinguishes it from the rest is its special black dial with applied white gold numerals (the standard production models featured baton hour markers) and leaf-shaped hands (the fourth series featured baton hands). This dial, according to an Extract from the Archive, was replaced during a service. The present dial is reminiscent of the ones fitted on the revered Ref. 5004 perpetual calendar split-seconds chronograph.

Est: US $240,000 – Us $440,000

Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/111P-001
Over the last decade, the Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711 has emerged as the ultimate luxury sports watch, a statement piece that has garnered the attention of mainstream audiences outside the niche of watch collectors. The platinum gem-set Nautilus Ref. 5711 models were never featured in Patek Philippe catalogues and were reserved or offered to Patek Philippe’s most exclusive clients. These models were seen with baguette-cut diamond, sapphire, ruby, or emerald bezels.

Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/111P-001

This particular Ref. 5711/111P-001 is the more flamboyant cousin of the iconic steel sports watch from the Geneva watchmaker and is distinguished by its bezel, set with 32 baguette-cut blue sapphire stones. The dial has a further 12 sapphire hour markers further adding to the allure of this exclusive timepiece.
Est: US $500,000 – US $800,000

The story first appeared in the April-June 2023 issue of WatchTime India. Subscribe to get your copy.

Images: Courtesy Christie's


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