Hands-On with delights from the May 2023 Auction at the Dorotheum Vienna!
´Collector´s View` on an eclectic selection of watches, from dress watches over calendars to icons, to be sold at the Dorotheum auction, 26 May 2023
Today we’d like to present watches to be auctioned by an auction house which does not enjoy the same international awareness, on first view at least, than the ‘usual suspects’ like Antiquorum, Christies, Sotheby’s or particularly Philipps. We are talking about a Viennese institution which is deeply ingrained into the city’s culture, the Dorotheum, which was founded by Emperor Joseph I in 1707 as the municipal pawn office and is in operation ever since. Being located in the nucleus of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, the geographic focus was historically the German speaking countries and Central Europe, and still today all live auctions take place in Vienna in the magnificent neo-Baroque Palais Dorotheum. Although the pawn office is still its major branch, the Dorotheum conducts 700 auctions per year in 40 categories curated by 100 experts, making it an eminent global player.
(view inside the Dorotheum’s magnificent neo-Baroque halls (here: Franz Joseph Hall). The room in the back hosts the exhibition of the watches and jewels to be auctioned)
Without going deeper into the specific structure of the Dorotheum and the particularities that come with that (probably worth a separate article) we would expect less of the ‘blockbuster pieces’ other auction houses have regularly in their catalogues, but more of interesting pieces that expose their finesse only with a deeper, eclectic view – and here we are with our selection from the upcoming ‘Masterpieces of Watchmaking Art’ auction to be held on 26 May 2023*, again sorted into tangible categories.
Now let’s enjoy some tempting watches!
Audemars Piguet Edward Piguet Ref. 77489 YG
An unassuming watch at first view, but the rectangular case design is finely defined and finds itself mirrored in the simple line indices and hands. This is timeless and unisex at the same time. Handwound movement, quite nice condition and even with the original AP buckle!
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 321 (estimate: EUR 2,000 – EUR 3,000, sold for EUR 2,860 incl. BP)
Blancpain Villeret Ref. 0071 YG
Those early 34mm Blancpain watches were important boosters for the renaissance of mechanical watchmaking, and created an iconic style for the brand with their double-ring bezel and the receding case band. Today we call them ‘neo-classics’. The movement, a Frédéric Piguet Cal. 71 is interesting as well with its open barrel and the offset rotor (and it reportedly was quite temperamental). There was also a Ref. 0072 which even had a small second at 05:30, how eclectic is that? Those watches in our view are on par with those for the ‘big three’ watchmaking houses and deserve more attention, also for their historical significance. Again with the original buckle.
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 315 (estimate: EUR 2,000 – EUR 3,000, sold for EUR 2,600 incl. BP)
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 5119R RG with Clous de Paris bezel
A classic in Patek Philippe’s catalogue which was for a long time seen as a very conservative offering. No longer in the collection, the bezel is almost eccentric and can make for quite a statement in the right context – I was surprised how well the 35mm watch presented itself on my wrist. Movement is the Cal. 215 with a Gyromax balance and the ‘right’ seal (Poinçon de Genève, of course).
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 324 (estimate: EUR 8,000 – EUR 12,000, sold for EUR 14,300 incl. BP)
Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 3558 YG with a blue dial
A superb example of Patek Philippe’s automatic references with the lovely Cal. 27–460M. Beautiful blue dial with finely applied indices which is nicely preserved (the case needs some careful attention). The yellow gold bracelet is aftermarket but fits the watch perfectly and is well crafted.
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 329 (estimate: EUR 6,000 – EUR 9,000, sold for EUR 16,900 incl. BP)
Breitling Navitimer Chrono Matic Ref. 2130
A typical 1970s chronograph with tachymetre scale and the characteristic, bright coloured and square hands. The unusual arrangement of crown (9 o’clock) and pushers (2 resp. 4 o’clock) hint to the historically significant Cal. 11 micro-rotor chronograph movement which battled itself with Zenith’s El Primero and Seiko’s Cal. 6139 for the first ever automatic chronograph movement in the late 1960s. Quite nice condition but according to the auction description a few case parts have been replaced.
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 345 (estimate: EUR 1,600 – EUR 2,400, sold for EUR 3,640 incl. BP)
Girard Perregaux Vintage 1960 “Sannino-Pompei” Chronograph Ref. 2598
This watch is one of a small edition of only 12 pieces made for the 45th anniversary of Girard Perregaux dealer Sannino-Pompei and comes with GP’s lovely eggshell textured and coloured dial with copper or head-blued hands and indices – a combination that I really like. There is some minor oxidation on the copper, but the case is very nicely preserved. Movement-wise it’s a mixed bag, the GP Cal. 2280 is a modular chronograph on an ETA 2892 base. The modules are made to GP’s specs by Dubois-Dépraz and even the ETA base has been modified including changes to the automatic winding system for smoother and more efficient function.
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 410 (estimate: EUR 2,000 – EUR 3,000, sold for EUR 3,120 incl. BP)
Zenith Rainbow El Primero Ref. 01/02.0461.400
This was Zenith’s sporty variant of the El Primero chronograph with a solid 40mm case and screw down crown and pushers. It also exists in a Flyback version (also in the Dorotheum auction, lot 413) but the magic here is the dial: with shades of blue on an otherwise completely steel watch is a mesmerising and timeless piece.
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 412 (estimate: EUR 2,000 – EUR 3,000, sold for EUR 2,600 incl. BP)
IWC Novecento Perpetual Calendar YG Ref. IW 3546
An unusual example for perpetual calendar watches in a large rectangular case shape. The dial has lots to offer visually with the many indications in different sizes including a moonphase at 3 and the year indication at 10:30 o’clock. The calendar mechanism is of IWC’s own development by Kurt Klaus and completely to be set via the (large) onion crown. Driven by an automatic JLC base, this one shall be reliable as well. Put a more refined strap on this piece and you have a real gem squarely for the savvy collector!
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 389 (estimate: EUR 5,000 – EUR 8,000, sold for EUR 6,500 incl. BP)
Jaeger-LeCoultre Le Grand Reveil Quantième Perpétuel Ref. 180.1.99 YG
Can it be any more 1990s than this one? A complicated piece from JLC, actually the first JLC with a perpetual calendar (I think the same IWC mechanism by Kurt Klaus), with a large and ‘expressive’ 41mm YG case (who would dare to produce such a case today?). Automatic and with a bronze gong for the alarm. It takes a bit of self-confidence to wield such a piece today, but you never win if you don’t dare…
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 370 (estimate: EUR 6,000 – EUR 9,000, sold for EUR 10,400 incl. BP)
Vacheron Constantin Historiques Toledo 1952 Calendrier Complete Ref. 47300 YG
A stellar example of the freedom a shaped case can give you if you know how to use the real estate. In this case (pun intended) the original inspiration came directly from the legendary vintage ‘Cioccolatone’ Ref. 4737 from the 1950s. A very emotional design which just doesn’t want to age: bold case matched with a richly detailed dial (note the fine dial structure shaped like a stamped-out metal stripe).
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 400 (estimate: EUR 8,000 – EUR 12,000, sold for EUR 11,700 incl. BP)
Breitling Navitimer Chrono Matic Ref. 1806
The second Breitling Chrono-Matic in our selection, the ‘Fried Egg’ as this watch is affectionately called, it’s a huge piece with a diameter of 48mm. Inside the legendary Cal. 11- derived Cal. 14 microrotor chronograph. The dial is complex with a calculator function, and hence the case size makes functionally sense (it also guarantees quite some presence on the wrist). Very nice condition!
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 343 (estimate: EUR 2,000 – EUR 3,000, sold for EUR 3,380 incl. BP)
Daniel Roth Ref. 257 RG
Few watchmakers enjoy such a repute as Daniel Roth, who first defined the style of Breguet and then developed an iconic style for the watches under his own name. Now at the brink of being rejuvenated, the interest in his original pieces grows. This is a very nice example of an automatic watch with small seconds (driven by a Frédéric Piguet Cal. 1151), a very pure incarnation of Mr Roth’s style.
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 426 (estimate: EUR 6,000 – EUR 9,000, sold for EUR 9,750 incl. BP)
Ebel 1911 Chronograph YG/SST Ref. 1134901
I always had a soft spot for the now ‘neo-classic’ Ebel watches of the 1980s/1990s, with their elaborate, rounded case design and the superbly comfortable wrist presence. Actor Don Johnson wore such a watch in the cult crime series Miami Vice. Ebel was one of the very first (if not the first) users of the legendary Zenith El Primero movement and thus a pacemaker of the revival of mechanical watches. This bicolour specimen is very well preserved down to considered strap choice and its original Ebel deployant clasp.
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 415 (estimate: EUR 1,200 – EUR 1,800, sold for EUR 2,080 incl. BP)
IWC Yacht Club SST & YG Ref. IW811A
Two lovely specimens of this legendary early sports watch from IWC. Like many pieces from the 1970s it is housed in a barrel shaped case which today is a bit polarising, but these two are in lovely condition with the original ‘fish’ crown still in place. Bot hare driven by IWC’s legendary manufacture automatic calibre 8541 with the efficient ‘Pellaton’ winding system. Same watch but entirely different impression thanks to the materials used, with the stainless steel version coming on a nicely preserved original bracelet made by Gay Frères.
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 392 (YG; estimate: EUR 1,200 – EUR 1,800, sold for EUR 2,470 incl. BP)
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 393 (SST; estimate: EUR 1,200 – EUR 1,800, sold for EUR 2,340 incl. BP)
IWC Mark XII ‘Die Fliegeruhr’ Ref. IW 3241
The first ‘modern’ interpretation of the original military watch and the only one to come with the desired JLC-based Cal. 884/2. 37mm stainless steel case with soft iron anti-magnetic shield. It has seen some use already but who would hold this against a ‘tool watch’?
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 384 (estimate: EUR 2,000 – EUR 3,000, sold for EUR 3,900 incl. BP)
Patek Philippe ‘Hour Glass’ Ref. 1593 YG
A spectacular case design, combining curved and facetted elements in a dynamic case with a simple yet well devised dial (also in a very good original condition) with well-rounded and detailed leaf hands – and the simple dot at the 6 o’clock position. The movement is the shaped movement Cal. 9-90, here already with a Gyromax balance. The watch still has a Patek Philippe service sticker at the back.
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 336 (estimate: EUR 12,000 – EUR 18,000, sold for EUR 16,900 incl. BP)
Some funky stuff
Chronoswiss Régulateur Rectangulaire Ref. CH2851
One of Chronoswiss’ earlier pieces developed by Gerd-Rüdiger Lang using a vintage shaped Cal. FHF29 movement – note the screwed balance and the lack of any shock protection. It is part of a 650-piece limited edition of watches with a ‘regulator’ dial and offers a wonderful balance of design elements. Someone invested great care in this design. Just note the beautiful head blued hands with the carefully finished centre parts, and the original buckle with the finely detailed ‘GRL’ emblem!
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 425 (estimate: EUR 3,000 – EUR 5,000, sold for EUR 3,380 incl. BP)
Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex Crazy Hours Color Dreams
Franck Muller has a coloured history amongst watch collectors which at times clouds the appreciation of their pieces. I am always delighted to see unusual time indications such as this ‘crazy hours’ one, essentially a jumping hour that jumps by 5 positions each time. It’s a fun and romantic way to tell time – and one that requires a bit of getting used to. The original lady owner did not have this patience and wore it only one day. A witty complication presented in a quite matching exuberant way. The movement is ETA based thus reliable and here even beautifully hand engraved.
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 501 (estimate: EUR 8,000 – EUR 12,000, sold for EUR 22,100 incl. BP)
Patek Philippe Gondolo Ref. 5024J YG
A Patek Philippe in the ‘funky’ category? Yes, but look closer: This Gondolo from 1995 has some really playful features, and it’s not only the rectangular, stepped yellow gold case: Just look how the ’6’ and the small seconds dial are integrated… A very emotional watch for those who take delight from the details which matter!
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 335 (estimate: EUR 6,000 – EUR 9,000, sold for EUR 7,800 incl. BP)
Rolex Cellini King Midas YG & WG Ref. 4017
Gerald Genta designed the original ‘King Midas’ for Rolex, and it’s quite a watch: a trapezoid case shaped after the Greek Parthenon temple in Athens, with the crown on the unusual left hand side position (according to Greek mythology, king Midas turned anything to gold that he touched with his left hand), there are two thrillingly different interpretations of the same watch: one in yellow gold with the horizontally brushed dial, one in white gold with the plain blue dial. Mesmerising to see what differences the effects of considered changes in material and finish make!
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 462 (YG; estimate: EUR 1,200 – EUR 1,800, sold for EUR 4,940 incl. BP)
- Dorotheum VIE, 26 May 2023, Lot 520 (WG; estimate: EUR 2,000 – EUR 3,000, sold for EUR 6,500 incl. BP)
This is just our own eclectic selection from this auction. We’d like to thank the Dorotheum team for their openness and the frank and interesting discussions!
One caveat at the end: above are our views but we won´t comment on condition and authenticity with authority – do your homework before bidding, as we would always recommend!
*) Link: Dorotheum Vienna, 26 May 2023: https://www.dorotheum.com/en/a/95956/