Christie’s Dubai leading the Middle Eastern auction watch market

Press release
Published February 13th, 2017 - 09:25 GMT
Lot 37 Boucheron a unique and exceptional 18k white gold And diamond-set Tourbillon Wristwatch
Lot 37 Boucheron a unique and exceptional 18k white gold And diamond-set Tourbillon Wristwatch

2017 marks 5 years of stand-alone watch auctions held by Christie’s in the Middle East. Inaugurated by Frederic Watrelot in November 2013, who became the company’s watch specialist for the US West coast, based in Los Angeles, the auctions have been taken to further heights by Remy Julia, head of watches Middle East India Africa since 2015. Over a rather short period of 5 years the market for watches in the region has developed extremely fast, with a collector base who became more sophisticated and knowledgeable in the field of both, modern and vintage watches as well as in detecting unique, rare and limited edition pieces. “Dubai Watch Week” announcement of its 3rd edition and supported by Christie’s from its first day, is another witness of this fast developing market.

A major development over the past 5 years has been seen in the field of vintage watches and the growing appetite of clients in the region for this kind of pieces.  To emphasize on this trend, Christie’s Geneva will bring again an important selection of watches of their May auction.

The 19 March 2017 Important Watches auction will therefore offer exceptional vintage pieces led by a Patek Philippe Ref. 2499/100 4th series as well as a Rolex Paul Newman Panda Dial ref. 6263 both offered with their original documents and box. The auction will feature as well a refined collection of Cartier Time Pieces either unique 1/1 or number 1 from a very limited edition series from an important private collector.

Reference 2499, by Patek Philippe is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest watch models ever created. Introduced in 1950, it replaced the legendary reference 1518, the world’s first perpetual calendar wristwatch with chronograph made in series. Over a period of 35 years, reference 2499 was made in 4 series with a total production of 349 pieces only, the majority cased in yellow gold. The rarity of this model becomes even more evident when considering that on annual average only 9 watches left Patek Philippe’s workshops in Geneva. Furthermore ref 2499 /100 fourth series, produced from 1980 to 1985 is considered as being the last true vintage perpetual calendar chronograph made by Patek Philippe (estimate $400,000-600,000). It is the first time that such a timepiece is offered at auction in the Middle East.

Always favored by collectors at auction are watches with Royal provenance, or made for important leaders. Christie’s will offer a skeletonized manual wind Breguet with custom made buckle to the emblem of King Hassan II of Morocco. The watch was retailed by Chaumet, delivered with the original box signed Chaumet and also featuring the Royal emblem. Made in the 1990’s this timepiece reflects the elegance and refined taste of Breguet’s modern era (estimate $25,000-50,000).

An Important private collection of Cartier watches, all either unique 1/1 or number 1 out of a very limited series as well as special orders made in majority in Platinum palladium, will attract the attention from worldwide collectors. This dedicated Cartier section will start with fine and rare ultra-thin pocket watches including an ultra-thin minute repeater, and a sapphire set platinum set open case.

Furthermore the Cartier selection will feature leading designs and models with a selection of watches from the 90’s to the early 2000’ such as: 3 Asymetrique watches; 2 Santos Dumont, 2 Tank a guichet, a Tortue XL Tourbillon in platinum and Tortue chronograph platinum; a Crash London 001-91 in white gold and a Crash Paris 001-91 in yellow gold as well as a Santos 100 in Titanium, a Santos 100 skeleton in titanium and a Santos mystery in palladium, just to name a few.

After the successful auctions Christie’s held throughout 4 sale venues to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Patek Philippe Nautilus model in 2016, Dubai responds to the ongoing demand for this model by offering reference 3800/108, an 18 carat gold Nautilus a full setting of diamond on the case, dial and bracelet with eye catching sapphire-set numerals. Reference 3800 has a case measuring 37mm and is estimated at $64,000-103,000.

In the field of vintage watches many Rolex models are highly sought after by collectors and the auction will offer important models from the early 1970s. The most important Vintage Rolex in this auction is reference 6263, a stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with “Panda” Paul Newman dial, made circa 1971, just a year after the models launch (estimated at $150,000-250,000). It is likely that over a 20 year period, only 24,000 examples of reference 6263 and 6265 were produced in stainless steel, and a very small percentage assembled with the exotic “Paul Newman” dials.

Reference 1803 was originally intended for the Middle Eastern market, this Rolex Day-Date Lacquered Stella was produced during the 1970s, identified as timepiece with special lacquered dials and produced in limited numbers. Highly collectable and rare, these timepieces were crafted with powerful colors and quickly became part of the most collectible Day-Dates. Two pieces on offer are lacquered in green and the other one in red and estimated at $ 20,000-30,000. A second reference 1803, made for the Sultanate of Oman in circa 1974 was retailed by Asprey of London. This time the dial is lacquered in burgundy with diamond indexes and the calendar indications are in Arabic language. The watch does not carry the the Khanjar dagger of the Sultan’s signature, normally found on all watches made by special order for the Sultanate (estimate: $40,000-50,000).

Other highlights of the sale include an important Audemars Piguet ROYAL OAK CONCEPT tourbillon (estimate: $130,000-200,000) as well as a A. Lange & Söhne fine and rare platinum diamond-set flyback chronograph featuring an impressive diamond baguette set case and diamond set dial (estimate: $135,000-185,000).

Greubel Forsey is represented in the auction with the company’s “Tourbillon 24 Seconds Incline” watch, manufactured in 2010. The tourbillon mechanism is inclined at a 25 degree angle, which appears detached from the gear train. Completing a rotation in just 24 seconds, the tourbillon mechanism was crafted from extremely low-density alloys, stemming from the aeronautical and aerospace industries, in order to withstand the stresses imposed by the high speed of rotation.                                                                                                                                                                                 Characteristic of Greubel Forsey timepieces, the asymmetrical shape of the beautiful 18k white gold case enables the wearer to observe in detail the mechanism through a sapphire crystal opening in the band  (estimate: $190,000-240,000).


Ladies watches have increased from a handful in the first auction to representing ¼ of the entire auction offering, without counting watches which could be worn by both men and women. The March 2017 Ladies watches section of about 40 lots is highlighted by the second most valuable watch of the auction: The ‘like new’ and unique creation Ladyhawke by Boucheron and Girard-Perregaux, marrying jewelry and creativity. Assembled with the highly complicated and iconic tourbillon with three gold Bridges, the movement provides the wristwatch with an exceptional aesthetical appeal due to its unique architecture. With animals being a predominant source of inspiration for the Maison Boucheron, the present unique creation offers enthusiasts of 'Haute Joaillerie' a magnificent falcon embellished with precious gems. Prince of birds, messenger of gods, this majestic creature is crafted of 18k white gold and encircles the watch with elegance. Furthermore, the timepiece is set with rubies and a total of over 900 pink, yellow, fancy and white diamonds weighing a total of approximately 26.72 carats (estimate: $ 250,000-450,000).

The Cartier Crash was first introduced in the late 1960s, available only in yellow gold and sold exclusively at Cartier of London. With the first series comprising of only 15 examples, modern variations were introduced in the early 1990s as limited editions with a special Crash deployant buckle. Alluding to Salvador Dali’s painting The persistence of Memory, 1931, exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, these highly desirable timepieces are highly coveted by collectors. Two Cartier Crash will be on offer, a yellow gold Crash Paris and well a beautiful platinum case, Crash London preserved in excellent overall condition (both estimated at: $20,000-40,000 each).

The auction will also feature Manchette watches by Cartier, Chopard and Piaget from the 70’s, which were among the most desirable ladies accessories from that era. There are wanted and collectible objects for the contemporary lady collector and witness a growing interest at auction.

Wanted by many, owned by a select few, the creations of the maison Harry Winston evoke passion for perfection and extraordinary luxury. Crafted in a beautiful 18k white gold case studded with baguette-cut diamonds and a pave-set mother-of-pearl dial, the present Harry Winston timepiece is offered in very good overall condition with its certificates (estimate: $25,000-45,000). 

Background Information


Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service, expertise and global reach. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, Christie's has since conducted the greatest and most celebrated auctions through the centuries providing a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.

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