Over recent months we have been witnessing watch auction results that many would never have believed possible. Admittedly, the watches that are achieving eye-watering and record-setting prices are often rare or exceptional examples of iconic references. There are stiil a number of more accessible auctions that collectors can peruse and one of my favourites is the Bonhams Knightsbridge sales. The November auction has some classic offerings across all brands and one special collection from a noted expert and good friend of Revolution. The sale is a true eclectic mix of legendary pieces such as the Rolex Explorer, Tudor Chrono and Omega Speedmaster alongside full-on bling pieces by Chanel and Cartier. There really is a watch for everyone here and at all price points.
A Mixed Bag
Heuers are hot property at the moment, following the recent Phillips monothematic sale earlier this month. It’ll be interesting to see how the five Heuers in this sale perform. There are a couple of Autavias in the auction; a watch that was inspired by both motor racing and flying. The word Autavia is actually an amalgam of two words – automotive and aviation. Lots 160 and 167 are Autavias reference 1163 and 11630 respectively. Classic 70s styling is the order of the day here and they are cool watches. Lot 165 is a Heuer Montreal with a vibrant blue and orange colour scheme that is striking, in a similar way to the Tudor Monte Carlo chronos.
Omega is also well well represented with a number of vintage and modern interpretations of their classic pieces. One of the most popular and sought after vintage dive watches of recent times is the Seamaster 300, with its iconic ‘3-6-9’ dial and military spec sword hands. Lot 168 is a mid-60s example with period correct bracelet and a good condition bezel. I also like Lot 171 – an Omega Chronostop. This watch has lived its life to the full and I love the unpolished crystal…found as is!
The Ken Kessler Collection
As I mentioned at the top of this piece, there is a special collection being offered as part of this sale; a selection of 14 pieces from the collection of Ken Kessler, Revolutions ‘Editor-at-Large’ and a noted watch expert. The collection is part of a hoard that has been built up over the last 35 years and there are a number of cool and special offerings.
I briefly caught up with Ken and asked him why he had chosen now to wave goodbye to these watches. “It occurred to me that too many of my watches weren’t being worn, and that the time was right to start putting them back into circulation. Thanks to my long-term professional dealings with Bonhams’ Global Head of Watches, Jonathan Darracott, the London-based house was my obvious choice”.
Among the 14 offered lots are a number of Omegas, including a pristine Chronostop Driver’s watch and three military Omegas from 1945, 1953 and 1956. There are a couple of the so-called ‘Dirty Dozen’ in the sale, the aforementioned 1945 Omega and a Timor – as well as two Smiths military watches from the 1950s and 1970s. Civilian pieces feature a trio of unusual Bulovas, including a 1966 Accutron Spaceview and two ‘666’ models: the blue reverse panda dial manual-wind chronograph and the automatic Oceanographer Snorkel 666 with rare Plexiglas “Pepsi-Cola” bezel. From Kessler’s collection of chronographs are a 1960 Wittnauer stainless steel manual wind Professional and a reverse panda Breitling Top Time.
Two personal highlights of Ken’s offerings are his Lemania stainless-steel, manual-wind, single-button chronograph from the 1950s, with black dial and broad arrow; the full military markings on the caseback are engraved “↑ 0552/920-3305 75896.” I also love his unusual Hamilton limited-edition Timeplan stainless-steel automatic calendar wristwatch with dual rotating bezels, series No. 555/800 and sold exclusively in the Italian market in 1990.
Ken added “I’m worried about attending the auction myself because of other items in the sale which I will find hard to resist bidding on. That said, for me the point of the auction is to reduce the size of my collection – not to add to it!”
I might have my eye on a couple of his pieces…let’s see!
Check out the full catalogue at www.bonhams.com