Sir Winston Churchill’s World Time Watch, Designed by Louis Cottier, Going Up for Auction at Sotheby’s

Winston Churchill World Time Louis Cottier Pocket Watch - Perpetuelle

Pieces like this simply do not come along every day.  In fact, I would call this pocket watch a piece with unparalleled historical significance, a truly special watch.  Let me break it down for you. First off, the owner of this watch:  Sir Winston Churchill.  Enough said.  Second, the occasion for the watch:  a gift to Churchill in celebration of victory in World War II.   Talk about a momentous occasion.   Sotheby’s, who will auction the piece on Sept 22, notes that the watch was commissioned by a group of “prominent Swiss citizens” and was one of four given to leaders including Charles de Gaulle, Joseph Stalin and Harry S Truman, to commemorate Victory in Europe (“VE Day”, May 8, 1945).  

On top of this, there is something that perhaps only watch enthusiasts and collectors will truly appreciate — the pocket watch was designed and made by Mr. Louis Cottier, inventor of the World Time system and arguably one of watchmaking’s most important figures.  Louis Cottier’s World Time system was used by major names in the Swiss watch industry such as Vacheron Constantin, Rolex, and Agassiz and Co. (who Cottier also worked with on this piece) — but it was really Patek Philippe who made their mark with Cottier’s World Time.  Indeed, everything from the Patek Ref. 96 HU Calatrava to the Ref. 515 HU to the famous Ref. 2523 HU with two crowns — all can be traced to the work of Louis Cottier.  In other words, there is no less important person when it comes to a World Time watch than Louis Cottier (see “Did You Know” below for the full story on Louis Cottier and his impact on watchmaking).

These things said, I think there can be no argument as to the profound history and meaning of this watch. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

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A Rare Patek Philippe Ref 1518 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Going Up at Auction

Patek Philippe Ref 1518 vintage angleview - Perpetuelle

What an amazing watch.  This beautifully aged Patek Philippe Ref 1518 in 35mm yellow gold case is up for auction one week from today at Christie’s Important Watches auction in New York.    The Patek Ref 1518 was the first perpetual calendar chronograph to be manufactured in series by any firm worldwide.  It was produced by Patek Philippe from 1941 until approximately 1954, with a total of only 281 examples being produced.   The model was later replaced by the reference 2499 (yes, like the platinum 2499 that Eric Clapton used to own and which sold for $3.6 million).  Though Patek 2499’s carry stronger results in the auction market, for me the 1518 is a better looking, more well proportioned watch I prefer it to the 2499.

Patek Philippe Ref 1518 vintage - Perpetuelle

The Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives for this particular model confirms production in 1951 and original sale on October 22, 1953.  It was last seen at auction in 1987.  A distinguishing feature of this watch is the outer tachometer is calibrated for miles, rather than the more common metric tachometer.  The day and month indicators are also in English.  The full crisp lugs and short signature on the beautifully aging dial make this an extremely desirable watch for the discerning collector.   The inside of the case back is stamped Poinçon de Maître key 9, which is also known as a Collective Responsibility Mark which is codified in Swiss law (don’t ask me why!); the stamp indicates the case was made by Emile Vichet S.A. in Geneva, a firm known for crafting very thin cases, and the cases for other complicated Patek Philippe watches.

This superb Patek Philippe 1518 carries a pre-auction estimate of $200,000 – $400,000.



Breguet Acquires Rare Quarter Repeater Pocketwatch at Auction

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Breguet 1135 at Christe's auction - November 2014

While most of the attention in the auction market last week went to the $24 million Patek “Graves Supercomplication”, there were a couple of neat Breguet pocket watches that sold last week at the Christie’s “Important Watches” auction in Geneva last Monday (November 10th, 2014).  Both pieces were acquired by Marc A. Hayek (President and CEO of Breguet) on behalf of the house of Breguet.  Most notable among the two historic gold pocket watches is this rare quarter repeating watch equipped with the first free escapement with natural lift ever made by Breguet.  The Breguet N° 1135 (circa 1806) sold for a tidy sum of 605,000 Swiss Frances, or about $630,000, including premiums.  This piece, in the present owner’s collection since 1983, fetched more than 2x its pre-auction estimate.  As a fan of Montres Breguet (in fact the name of this blog was directly inspired by A.L. Breguet’s perpétuelles of the late 1700s), the No. 1135 strikes me (sorry for the pun) as a particularly noteworthy piece and a wonderful example of the talent of A.L. Breguet.

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Rare Singing Bird Cage Clock Automaton by Jaquet Droz to Sell (Video)

SOLD!  291,750 Swiss Francs (about $305,000 USD

on Nov 9, 2014Rare Singing Bird Cage Clock Automaton by Jaquet Droz

The top highlight of Antiquorum’s mega-sale this weekend in Geneva is unquestionably the Small Singing Bird Cage Clock with Automaton Jumping Bird & Automaton Waterfall, attributed to Jaquet-Droz et Leschot Geneva.  At upwards of 400,000 Swiss Frances, it is projected to be the top selling lot of the auction, out of more than 1,000 lots which include such exceptional pieces as a Patek Philippe Ref 2499, a Blancpain  1735 Grand Complication and a Patek 5004.

But forget the price — this is one of those truly rare, special and exceptional pieces of horological history that happens to not be a pocket or wristwatch — and I absolutely love it.  You have to see — and hear — this amazing piece of horological history.  It really is an awe-inspring piece of automaton, particularly when you consider it was made circa 1785 (!!!!).  And here it is:

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