The watch auction landscape is dominated by the big established houses, who coincide their seasonal sales to allow the collecting and dealing contingent to descend upon Geneva twice-annually to hoover up the presented lots. There are, however, a number of set-ups that are emerging and snapping at the heels of the well-known players. One such example is the Monaco Legend Group, based in Monte Carlo. They offer private sales of watches and jewelry alongside an impressive inventory of classic cars in a purpose-built facility in the centre of Monaco. They also host two sales each year of rare watches and important jewelry. This Monday, their winter sale takes place at their showroom in Monaco and they have assembled a fine selection of interesting watches. The print catalogue is impressively presented with good pictures and write-ups. Here are a few of my favourite things…
Tipped to be the next ‘big thing’, the self-winding Daytona is well represented in the sale, especially the first Zenith-powered series. Regular readers know my penchant for stone dial variants and Lot 118 doesn’t disappoint. The white gold reference 16519 is an interesting watch, as it is understated in the white metal and worn on a leather strap with fixed endlinks. This particular example is fitted with a red grossular dial, with diamond hour markers. These stunning dials are rare and highly prized by Daytona collectors, especially when in a Zenith Daytona.
Lot 94 is a yellow gold 16528 Zenith-powered Daytona with two interesting original features. The first is on the dial, which is in this case in flawless condition. The Mk1 dial was fitted to the very first watches in 1988 and 1989 (R serial and L serial respectively) and is known by collectors as the ‘floating dial’. This nickname derives from the fact that the word ‘COSMOGRAPH’ is detached from the other lines of text on the upper half of the dial – like it’s floating away! The second notable attribute is the original early bezel, which graduates to only 200 (later versions go to 400) and features the ‘UNITS PER HOUR’ text at three o’clock, where on later versions it’s positioned at one o’clock on the bezel. The watch is in great condition and is accompanied by its punched papers. I have seen the prices of these skyrocket over the past couple of years and I have no doubt this one will do very well indeed.
Lot 66 – Longines Big Pilot ‘Weems’
In the 1930s and 40s, the average wristwatch size was around 32mm, which has made the oversize steel 38mm Calatrava-esque watches of the era so very popular over recent years. Pilot’s watches of that era were gargantuan in comparison to their civilian counterparts. Lot 66 is a beautifully preserved example of such a big pilot watch by Longines. Known as the Weems, after the US Navy pilot instructor who invented the second setting watch with Longines. Captain Philip Van Horn Weems taught celestial navigation, most famously to Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. These watches were made in incredibly small numbers and the present lot has a beautifully preserved enamel dial with black painted arabic Breguet numerals and correct inner metal dial. Measuring nearly 48mm across it’s a big watch, even by today’s standards!
Lot 102 – Patek Philippe Tasti Tondi
The reference 1463 was Patek’s first waterproof chronograph and is recognisable due to its round pushers (tasti tondi in Italian). Lot 102 is nice example in 18k yellow gold, with its large size case (35mm) and domed crystal and deep caseback affording it a very contemporary and sporty feel. These proportions make it a very desirable watch amongst Patek collectors and lovers of important watches in general. Patek launched the 1463 in 1940 and it was produced for approximately 30 years, but in only around 400 examples. The original silver dial is in beautiful condition, with seconds chapter ring and tachymeter scale. The lot is accompanied by an archive extract too.
Lot 17 – Breguet Platinum Rectangular Watch
Sometimes simple is perfect and perfect simplicity is in full play with Lot 17. I really love this elegant rectangular watch from Breguet. Dating to the end of the 1960s, its picture frame-esque case is made from platinum and it houses a stunning guilloche dial with stylized painted Roman numerals. The watch comes with its original box and an archive extract. Under the radar for sure, a discerning collector will snap this up.