Christie’s Watches Online: The Dubai Edit
Tomorrow, Christie’s opens the first online watch sale of the season! Organized by Christie's Dubai, it will be an excellent barometer of the rise in watch sales recorded in recent times. It will be a unique opportunity for collectors to acquire iconic watches – Patek Philippe, Rolex, Audemars Piguet – as well as exceptional pieces from independents such as Greubel Forsey, Richard Mille, F.P.Journe. Over 200 lots have been consigned for the season’s first sale in the region; among them, a double highlight embodied by the Greubel Forsey GMT Sport.
After strong records set last year (the highest annual total for watch auctions in the region at US$24.5 million; the Patek Philippe Ref. 5002-P Sky Moon Tourbillon sold for US$1.59 million setting a record for the most expensive watch in the Middle East as well the most expensive watch ever sold online at Christie’s; and the online sale in April 2021 which totalled US$14.1 million, the highest result for any online watch sale at Christie’s), Christie’s Watches Dubai has earned its place as a key hub for collectors and the place where sellers can be sure of achieving strong prices for exceptional pieces.
This Spring’s online sale from 15th to 29th March further cements Christie’s Watches Dubai’s position in the market as over 200 lots have been consigned for the season’s first sale in the region, with an estimate between US$12 million and US$18 million.
Among this fine selection, for the first time at auction, there are two superb examples of the incredible Greubel Forsey GMT Sport. Launched in 2019, the blue version is a limited edition of 11 pieces while the red piece is a one-off.
Also to be presented at this auction: a dazzling Rolex Daytona Platinum Ref. 116576TBR with baguette diamond bezel and eastern Arabic numerals, a Rolex Daytona ‘Rainbow’, an equally stunning Vintage Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263 “Big Red”, and a Rolex Submariner COMEX Ref. 16800. Among the other, equally tantalising treasures in store: one-of-a-kind Patek Philippe timepieces such as the Ref. 3940G made for Michael Ovitz, and the Ref. 3974J with minute repeater and perpetual calendar – as well as a strong independent section including a F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain with brass movement, a F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance Black Label, a rare platinum Audemars Piguet Grande Sonnerie with Breguet numerals dial, and a Richard Mille RM70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost.
Remy Julia, Head of Watches Christie’s Middle East, India & Africa, shared: “Over 200 lots have been consigned with Christie’s Watches Dubai for the season’s first sale in the region, with an estimate between US$12 million and US$18 million. In addition to this strong start on the auction front, we also see the pace of private sales – where we bring buyers and sellers in our network together for a set price – picking up significantly: since January, sales volume for this channel is on a solid trajectory and has exceeded the US$20 million mark. Indeed, Dubai shines brighter and brighter as a beacon in the watch universe.
Greubel Forsey double highlight
Two examples of the Greubel Forsey GMT Sport. Launched by Greubel Forsey in December 2019, the GMT Sport blends outstanding architectural design with horological mastery and augmented ergonomics. The “Blue” is a limited edition of 11 pieces, and the “Red” was a special order – only one was ever made.
With a lightweight and ultra-strong profiled titanium case, with integrated lugs and ovoid bezel to showcase the new movement, the GMT Sport stands out as the famed Manufacture’s most sport-oriented timepiece to date. The movement was designed from scratch, from the suspended arched bridge for the hours and minutes display to the unique showcase for the Tourbillon 24 Secondes and the universal time display with the three-dimensional globe.
The open-worked dial, a theatre of high horology, is a Greubel Forsey hallmark. The display side of the GMT Sport presents classic Greubel Forsey architecture, an open, orchestrated vision of watchmaking mastery between suspended bridges, semi-apparent wheels and floating dials in three dimensions.
In keeping with the sporting vocation of this timepiece, the focus is on legibility and efficiency. Whether they are visible on the dial side or concealed in the case back side, each of the 435 components of this hand-wound movement, including the titanium plates and bridges, live up to the most demanding criteria of the Atelier Greubel Forsey and the team’s painstaking attention to finest workmanship.
(Est. US$400,000-600,000 each)
Platinum Audemars Piguet Grande Sonnerie with Breguet numerals dial. Among the cognoscenti, the Grande Sonnerie is considered the ultimate expression of Haute Horlogerie, some even call it the ‘king of complications’. Audemars Piguet has an unparalleled history of making chiming wristwatches and this particular example is from a movement that was developed in the mid-1990s by the Le Brassus-based brand.
The Sonnerie function, usually found in clocks and clock watches, allows the movement to strike the hours and quarters (Grande Sonnerie) or only the hours (Petite Sonnerie) on passing. The present watch – in addition to being able to strike the hours and quarters on passing in the GS, PS or S (for Silence) modes – can also strike the hours and quarters on demand via the pusher at 10 o’clock.
The watch presents an attractive face with a deep-gloss piano-black lacquer dial with applied Breguet numerals. It is housed in a streamlined, brushed platinum case with a sloping bezel. Numbered 15/50, the watch was part of a limited series of watches produced by the brand – a great opportunity for connoisseurs to acquire a timepiece of real distinction.
Rolex Daytona Platinum with Baguette Bezel and Eastern Arabic numerals, Ref. 116576TBR. The platinum Rolex Daytona Ref. 116576TBR with Eastern Arabic numerals and a bezel studded with baguette-cut diamonds is the most luxurious version of the elusive Middle Eastern version of the brand’s flagship chronograph. This watch has an all platinum case and bracelet and features an ‘ice blue’ dial with the very rare applied blued Eastern Arabic numerals – a hallmark of the edition created by Rolex for the brand’s elite roster of Middle Eastern clients and royalty. Offered here in 'excellent' condition, this is a rare opportunity for discerning collectors to acquire one of the most coveted modern Daytona references. Introduced in the 1960s, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona was engineered to meet the demands for reliability and precision of professional racing drivers. Named after the celebrated Daytona International Speedway, the chronograph became an undisputable icon and source of fascination throughout the years.
Rolex Daytona ‘Rainbow’. A most desirable modern Rolex Daytona references, this chronograph has 36 baguette-cut sapphires set in a rainbow gradation around the bezel, circling a black lacquer dial with counters made with gold crystals and a mid-case set with 56 brilliant-cut diamonds. Due to the complexity inherent in their production, these models were made in very limited edition and have an artisanal-like quality, as exemplified by the gem-setting on the bezel. Unsurprisingly, demand for these Rainbow Daytonas far outstripps supply.
Vintage Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263 “Big Red”. Launched in the 1970s, the reference 6263 is the sister reference of the 6265. Inheriting attributes of reference 6240, the chronograph bears the “Oyster” designation on the upper-half of its dial and is built with screw-down pushers, a screw back and screw-down crown. Offered in stainless steel as well as 14 and 18 karat gold versions, it is estimated that over a 20-year period only 24,000 units of references 6263 and 6265 were produced in stainless steel. The chronograph was made with a slightly wider case, giving the wristwatch a more athletic feel than earlier references. Powered by the Valjoux 727 movement, the present reference has a black metal bezel insert and a dial with red “Daytona” signature. The present reference is offered with its original warranty papers and presentation box.
Rolex Submariner COMEX Ref. 16800. In the late 1960s, Rolex was commissioned by COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d'Expertise), a professional diving operation for the oil industry Submariner, to supply Submariner models featuring the patented gas escape valve.
Founded in 1961 in Marseille by Henri-Germain Delauze, COMEX pioneered professional diving as a commercial service. The company’s divers required tool watches designed for conducting safe operations at greater depths, known as saturation diving. Following a thorough review, COMEX selected Rolex’s "Submariner" model because it met the most stringent technical and professional demands of the professional deep-sea diver.
This auction features the Rolex Submariner COMEX reference 16800 series in production from 1982 until 1986. On the COMEX Submariners, the COMEX designation is visible on the dial and the exterior of the screw back. Part or the entire serial number was repeated on the inside of the caseback, a feature only seen on this model and the reference 5513, which was supplied to COMEX and to military forces.
The engravings on the caseback – ‘J.C. Keith’ and ‘30-11-84’ – and the accompanying Comex Houlder Diving Ltd. card suggest that the watch was presented to J.C. Keith in recognition of 10 years of service.
Patek Philippe Ref. 3940G perpetual calendar made for Michael Ovitz. Michael S. Ovitz, the legendary co-founder of Creative Artists Agency and former president of the Walt Disney Company who revolutionised the film business, also known as The Most Powerful Man in Hollywood, commissioned by Mr. Ovitz, this second series Ref. 3940 perpetual calendar in white gold, featuring an exclusive dial in pink gold with applied Breguet numerals. Michael S. Ovitz commissioned several custom-made Patek Philippe watches, all bearing his stylised initials, M.S.O. on the dial. Reference 3940 is considered the quintessential Patek Philippe perpetual calendar and was produced between 1984 and 2007, making it one of the longest production runs in the brand’s history.
Patek Philippe Ref. 3974J. One of the most important watches ever produced in a series by Patek Philippe, the reference 3974 was launched in 1989 to celebrate the brand’s 150th anniversary. At the time, this was the world's most complicated wristwatch, combining a minute repeater with a perpetual calendar. Only 160 or so examples of the Ref. 3974 were made, the majority in yellow gold. Early examples of this reference, like the one we are privileged to offer in this sale, were presented with a case made by the legendary Jean-Pierre Hagmann. The watch is powered by an impressive Calibre 27 RQ, a 22K micro-rotor movement with 467 parts. Patek Philippe ceased the production of the Ref. 3974 in 2000, however the reference is now considered a modern classic epitomising the strengths and acoustics of Patek Philippe minute repeaters.
F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain with brass movement. Since 2005, F.P. Journe’s timepieces have been made with 18k gold movements. Early models made between 2001 and 2004, however, featured movements made from brass. It is estimated that only around 2,000 timepieces were equipped with brass movements, and as a result, they are more collectible and significant for an epoch in the watchmaker’s journey.
The Tourbillon Souverain launched F. P. Journe’s illustrious career in 1999. It was the first wristwatch to combine a remontoire d’égalité (a constant-force device ensuring a consistent supply of power from the mainspring to the escapement) with a tourbillon, establishing F. P. Journe's status as a technical and design genius.
F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance Black Label. Launched in 2000, the Chronomètre à Résonance was the second wristwatch developed by F.P. Journe to feature two balance wheels oscillating in resonance with each other, a technical tour de force. The present watch’s exclusivity is further enhanced by it being a Black Label Edition, available only to existing F.P. Journe clients. Black Label Editions were distinguished by their platinum cases and black lacquer dials. Only 12 Black Label pieces are allotted to the boutiques in any year, with just two pieces for each model in the collection.
Richard Mille RM70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost. The Richard Mille RM70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost is a great example of how the brand pushes the boundaries of watchmaking. Unveiled in 2017, the watch was created in partnership with four-time Formula One champion and cycling enthusiast Alain Prost. The watch combines a tourbillon movement with an unusual complication – a mechanical odometer for tallying distances of up to 99,999 kilometres. Furthermore, the watch’s asymmetrical shape provides optimum wear comfort and legibility whilst gripping the handlebars. The case is made from Carbon TPT, a material known for its durability and lightness, and now synonymous with the brand. One exemplar of a limited edition of just 30 pieces.
(Estimate provided upon request only)
The lots curated for Watches Online: The Dubai Edit will be on view between 15 - 29 March at Christie’s, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Gate Village 5, Podium Level.