Povey’s Picks — Clapton Watches and Other Goodies at Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: Six

Erip Clapton

Following hot on the heels of the inaugural Phillips New York Winning Icons sale last month, GWA:6 will be watched with interest to see how the market has responded to a number of big results. Will the incredible $17 million plus record for the ‘Newman Newman’ have any impact on the value of this exotic dialed manual wind Daytona? Well, this will be the time to watch and evaluate how dealers, collectors and investors decide to bid. Whilst GWA:6 may not have a superstar lot, like the Icons sale, there are some beautiful pieces that will ensure another great event this month at La Reserve.

Trio of Tudors (Lots 139, 140 & 207)

It is a fairly recent thing to see Tudors at high-end wrist watch auctions. This sale has three iconic references from Tudor; a non-date snowflake Submariner, a snowflake Submariner date and a first series chrono – the legendary Homeplate or Porsche Chrono. Lot 139 is a great example of the most desirable of the Homeplates (excluding the black dial) – the reference 7031 with black plastic tachymeter bezel. It’s a good one too, but made even cooler by the addition of the original bright orange ‘peanut box’.

Lot 139: Tudor Ref. 7031/0
Lot 139: Tudor Ref. 7031/0
Lot 139: Tudor Ref. 7031/0, inside caseback stamped II.70 A fine and rare stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with bracelet and fitted presentation box

Lot 207 is crisp and clean blue snowflake date, ref 7021, that has an amazing faded bezel. To me a blue snowflake date with naturally faded bezel is one of the coolest watches you can own.

Lot 207: Tudor Ref. 7021/0
Lot 207: Tudor Ref. 7021/0
Lot 207: Tudor Ref. 7021/0, a very attractive and rare stainless steel divers' wristwatch with bracelet and a letter from the owner relating its diving history

The most interesting of the three is a black non-date snowflake Sub with a twist. The Tudor Subs were issued to a number of military forces over the years and one of the most desirable are the black non-date snowflake watches. Lot 140 is such a watch in very good condition, with subtly faded bezel insert and well-preserved dial. The twist is the full serial number engraving in the caseback in an unmistakably ‘Rolex Geneva’ font that I have seen on special issue watches such as Rolex Milsubs and Comex watches – but never a Tudor. There are a couple of other characteristics that this watch has, which would indicate it was from a military batch of watches. I can’t be sure about what the watch’s full story is, but I’m confident that it was issued for some professional use. I’ll be watching this one closely!

Lot 140: Tudor Ref. 7016/0
Lot 140: Tudor Ref. 7016/0
Lot 140: Tudor Ref. 7016/0, inside caseback stamped with repeated serial number 827'982 A fine and attractive stainless steel wristwatch with centre seconds

Clapton’s Classics (Lots 164 & 165)

I said before that there were no superstar lots…but that wasn’t necessarily true. There are two lots that belong to a superstar – Eric Clapton CBE. Clapton is a well-known collector of high-end watches, by both Rolex and Patek. I’ve been lucky enough to handle some his Patek Philippe pieces-unique over the years and they are always beautiful and stealthily unique. This sale has one from each of his preferred stables – a Patek reference 3970 and a Rolex Daytona reference 116528. The Daytona was purchased in 2003 from George Pragnell, a Rolex AD in the UK. The yellow gold watch features a black dial, with striking red outer seconds track and stop watch hand. Known by collectors as the modern ‘Paul Newman’ dial, this watch is desirable in its own right, never mind the rock star paperwork!

Lot 164: Rolex Ref. 116'528
Lot 164: Rolex Ref. 116'528. A rare yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with bracelet and guarantee, formerly in the collection of Eric Clapton, CBE
Lot 164: Rolex Ref. 116'528

Lot 165 is a rare pink gold Patek Philippe reference 3970r. This watch has a special order dial that was made for Clapton. Special features include the silvered dial finish, tachymeter scale and Breguet numeral at 12 o’clock. The Patek paperwork is made out to Monsieur Eric Clapton, with matching number engraved on the caseback. The 3970 ran for eighteen years until production ceased in 2004. This special order piece was actually manufactured in 2008, four years after official production ended. Two superb watches from one superb musician!

Lot 165: Patek Philippe Ref. 3970
Lot 165: Patek Philippe Ref. 3970. An extremely fine and highly rare pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moonphases, silvered tachymeter dial, Breguet numeral at 12 o'clock, original certificate, additional case back and fitted presentation box, formerly in the collection of Eric Clapton, CBE
Lot 165: Patek Philippe Ref. 3970

New Newman Nature (Lots 137, 197 & 249)

There are three Newmans in the sale. There is a 14k gold pump-pusher 6241, a 6264 and Oyster Newman reference 6263. All three are highly collectible and sought after, but what will happen following the incredible result for the reference 6239 that was formerly the property of the watch’s namesake – Mr Paul Newman himself? The market will, I suspect, still be slightly buoyed by the result but I am unsure we’ll see a huge surge in prices of these watches. But we’ll see on the day…

Lot 137: Rolex Ref. 6241
Lot 137: Rolex Ref. 6241. A highly attractive, beautifully preserved and rare 14K yellow gold chronograph wristwatch
Lot 197: Rolex Ref. 6263
Lot 197: Rolex Ref. 6263, inside caseback stamped 6262 A fine, extremely rare and very attractive stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with Mark 1.5 dial, brown "tropical"outer minute track, bracelet and box
Lot 249: Rolex Ref. 6264
Lot 249: Rolex Ref. 6264, inside case back stamped 6239 6241 A highly rare and most attractive stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with "exotic" dial and bracelet

A True Explorer (Lot 244)

The Rolex Explorer is one of the marques most enduring references and has a heritage that was truly born up the dizzy heights of some of the worlds most challenging and treacherous mountains. Rolex provided the 1953 Everest expedition with ‘Pre-Explorer’ watches, reference 6098, which led to the development of the 6350 and 6150 Explorers where the iconic black 3-6-9 dial was used and the word Explorer appeared on the dial.

Lot 244: Rolex Ref. 6150
Lot 244: Rolex Ref. 6150. An attractive and historically important wristwatch with centre, seconds, black lacquer "explorer" dial and bracelet, worn on the 1955 Kanchenjunga Expedition by George Band

Lot 244 is a very important and early 6150 that was used by George Band. Following his involvement in the successful Everest climb in ’53, George Band took on the previously unconquered Kangchenjunga in 1955 and was the first climber, alongside Joe Brown, to successfully reach the summit. Expedition members were issued with a Rolex 6150 with their name beneath “KANGCHENJUNGA 1955”. This watch was Band’s main watch for the remainder of his life.

Lot 244: Rolex Ref. 6150

I have long been fascinated with the evolution of the 1950s Oysters and the development of the Explorer. These Ovettone watches are special and are key in the development of Rolex sports watches. This watch is one of the most important and finest examples of this era and I hope that it is recognised as such in the auction.

A Speedy Flyer (Lot 126)

The Omega Speedmaster is now becoming one of the most collectible chronos and interest is booming in vintage examples. Lot 126 is a nice and original Speedmaster reference 2998-4 that is rare in itself, but has the additional bonus of having been delivered to the Peruvian Air Force (as confirmed by the Omega archival extract). The watch was worn by General Enrico Praeli and the lot is accompanied by a number of important atrefacts that belonged to the General including is ID card and medals. This is a collector’s dream lot!

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Lot 126: Omega Ref. 2998-4
Lot 126: Omega Ref. 2998-4
Lot 126: Omega Ref. 2998-4. A fine and very rare stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with black dial and bracelet, made for the Peruvian Air Force accompanied by pilot's gear, army medals and FAP ID