Christie’s Important Watches auctions have been replaced with digital events in New York, Geneva and now Dubai. Watches Online: The Dubai Edit will offer virtual viewings and online bidding opportunities between October 15 and 29. For those who prefer to see the timepieces in person, appointment-only slots are available to book until Wednesday, October 14, at Christie’s Dubai’s offices in Dubai International Financial Centre. Viewings will take place between 10am and 8pm.
With 161 lots on offer, and a combined estimate of $5 million, the sale is billed by Christie’s as “the most valuable online watch sale ever”, which is probably an accurate statement, given the enduring strength of the horology market in the GCC.
The watches will appeal to the first-time bidder as well as the dedicated auction-goer. For the serious collector, Remy Julia, director of Christie’s watch department in Dubai, has acquired a Rolex made for the British Royal Navy, circa 1977. Listed as lot 155, the steel Submariner Milsub (reference 5513/17) was made to British Ministry of Defence specifications, including an easy-to-read symbol for tritium (a rare and radioactive isotope) depicted as an encircled T, and fixed bar lugs that measure two millimetres in diameter. In addition, the back of the case is marked with a Ministry of Defence issue number, unit number and military broad arrow sign. One of the most valued watches of this auction, it has an estimate of $140,000-$240,000.
Several pieces come with strong links to the GCC, including Lot 132, a steel and white gold Sky-Dweller Rolex, reference 326934. Made for the UAE Ministry of Defence, it has an estimate of $25,000-50,000.
Lot 127 was made especially for the Sultanate of Oman, and is a white gold and diamond day-date Rolex, with an oxblood dial. With a reference of 1803 it has a pre sale estimate of $50,000-80,0000.
Also made for the Sultanate is Lot 128, a steel Daytona Rolex, reference 116520, with an estimate of $30,000-50,000.
Continuing the military provenance is a piece selected by watch specialist Mathieu Ruffat, made especially for the UAE Armed Forces. Listed as lot 23, the gold day-date Rolex, circa 1994 (reference 18238), has “very rare” auction status. It has a champagne dial with the UAE flag in the centre, complete with a golden eagle and a star for each of the seven emirates. It has an estimate of $12,000-$18,000
There is also a much sought-after Rolex from 1961. The steel Submariner, lot 154 (reference 5512), unusually has pointed crown guards, as well as a rare black gloss dial, with two lines of gilt printing. It is not often that a watch such as this comes to market and interest is expected to be strong, hence the estimate of $30,000-$50,000.
Lot 109 meanwhile is a pink gold and diamond Omega Seamaster, with a portrait of Sheikh Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain on the dial. The estimate is $10,000-15,000.
Collectors of Patek Philippe will be pleased with its two pieces on offer. The first is a skeleton, keyless watch (lot 90, reference 912), set with gold, diamonds, pearls and rubies. It dates from 1980 and is one of only five known examples.
The 48mm case and sits around a skeletonised movement that has been hand-engraved. With five spoke wheels, it also carries Patek Philippe’s calatrava emblem as the spring barrel casing. An unusual and ornate piece, it has an estimate of $35,000-$50,000.
Finally, lot 26 is an exceedingly rare steel and gold Patek Philippe Nautilus from 1982 (reference 3700/11AJ). While the Nautilus has remained virtually unchanged since it launched in 1976, this example is thought to be one of only 300 made. To date, only 20 have appeared in public, making this piece worthy of its $25,000-$35,000 estimate.
Viewings at Christie’s in DIFC will take place until Wednesday, October 14; online bidding will start on Thursday, October 15 and end on Thursday, October 29
Updated: October 11, 2020 05:37 PM