Christie’s is collaborating with The Keystone to present “The Keystone Collection”, an online auction with over 200 offerings. The Keystone is a Beverly Hills based dealer focused on rare and vintage watches, typically featuring a nice mix of modern and vintage watches across all price points. The collection offered here exemplifies that, with highlights including a rare Patek Philippe Reference 725 perpetual calendar pocket watch signed Tiffany & Co., a Rolex Reference 16758 GMT-Master ‘SARU’, and an A. Lange & Sohne, limited edition pink gold Lange 1 tourbillon.
Christie’s “The Keystone Collection” Auction runs from July 30 until August 13. Let’s take a look at a few of the highlights.
Is it even an auction if there’s not a Paul Newman Daytona? The Reference 6241 is what we saw Ellen Degeneres wearing on her Netflix special Relatable last year. The Reference 6241 has pump pushers (as opposed to screw-down pushers), and measures 37mm in diameter with a Valjoux 72 movement beating inside. The 6241 is considered slightly more rare and desirable than its brother, the Reference 6239, which has a steel bezel (not black).
The Reference 6241 fetches prices well into the six figures at auctions. Bob’s Watches has a historical chart of the prices of all Paul Newman references at auction, showing a $500,000 hammer price for a 6241 in 2017. That’s a bit of an outlier, but prices regularly reach $300,000.
This particular example has clearly been polished, and the condition report says there are three nicks on the case back (signs of being opened), and the original bezel also has a few nicks.
The white outer ring of the dial has discoloration, which appears to be water damage, especially between 2 and 4 o’clock. There’s also some spotting on the sub-dials, particularly at 3 o’clock. In general, while the dial has turned a nice tropical color, it’s also lost some of its pop; eg., the red ‘Daytona’ above the 6 o’clock subdial isn’t quite as red as it once was.
Finally, this Reference 6241 comes on an Oyster bracelet, and while the bracelet is a correct 7205, one end link is a 361 and the other a 57. This is incorrect according to Rolex researchers.
All in all, it’s a nice example of a Reference 6241, but not perfect. That’s why it’s headlining an online auction in the middle of August and not sitting on the cover of a catalogue during the fall watch season. Nothing wrong with that, just proof that perfect, minty examples are hard to come by nowadays.
Lot 222 estimate: $140,000-$180,000
Different watch, same movement. This Universal Geneve chronograph is clearly of the same era as the Paul Newman Daytona: Same reverse-panda three-register dial, same black tachy bezel, even the same Valjoux 72 movement inside. And like the Daytona, this one’s even got a celebrity connection. While almost all vintage Universal Geneve is beloved by collectors right now, no model is more so than than the “Nina Rindt” a classic 1960s era chronograph made famous by racing driver Jochen Rindt’s wife, Nina. She was often spotted wearing it on a bund strap — Newman style — and collectors picked up on this over the years, leading to its rise in popularity. Nina’s preferred model was a Reference 885103 panda dial chronograph (black subdials on cream dial), with a black tachymeter bezel.
The “Evil Nina” is equally coveted by collectors, and is so named because of its reverse panda dial.
This particular example is in good condition: the twisted lugs are polished but sharp, and the rest of the case and bezel has typical nicks and scratches.
Unfortunately, the case back is incorrect for the watch and displays the wrong reference number. It’s possible it was switched at one point. The original dial is in good condition with just some slight discoloring on the white subdials, while the lume plots have darkened to various yellow hues, similar to the hands. While there’s some rust on the hands, that red-orange sweep seconds hand still pops off the dial.
This Universal Geneve chronograph comes on a Gay Freres bracelet that’s been polished and has some stretch on it.
Lot 112 estimate: $15,000 to $20,000
Two Patek Phillipe Calatrava Reference 570s in 18k Gold
Listen, the original Patek Phillipe Calatrava Reference 96 is great, but at 31mm, it’s a little small ever for my restrained wrists. So in 1938, Patek introduced the 35mm Reference 570. It’s as classic a dress watch as you can get, with an oversized (for the time) case, flat bezel, and simple dauphine hands and applied baton indices. It’s Patek at its Bauhaus best, and a look that will be as much in style in another 80 years as it is now. Inside ticks the manual wind caliber 27-SC (“SC” signifies central seconds in Patek movement lingo), the sister of the caliber 12-120 also used around the same era but which featured small seconds.
Keystone and Christies have two Reference 570s on offer, both in white gold, and has put estimates of $20,000 to $30,000 on both:
Though both examples date to 1962 — towards the end of the Ref. 570’s run — they’ve taken on entirely different characters.
Lot 130’s dial has taken on a creamy color, with some discoloration on the indices and near the pinion holding the hands in place. Christies’ condition reports light polishing, and there’s a service sticker on the case back. It comes with a modern Patek buckle, a nice touch if you can’t get your hands on the original.
Meanwhile, the dial of lot 144 has aged to a creamy, yellow color, with signs of wear around the outer edge. The hands and hour markers have likewise developed a nice, rusty patina.
Overall, the two watches are in comparable condition: No box or papers, but Patek extracts confirming sale, original hands, dial, and so honest, if uneven patina across the dial. The cases maintain much of their original shape, not bad considered both of these are going on 60 years old. Worthy additions to any collection.
So this GMT-Master steals the show at Christie’s Keystone Collection auction for multiple reasons. First, just look at it. The Reference 1678 SARU stands out as the first Rolex sports watch to be fitted with precious stones (SARU stands fir sapphires and rubies). Phillips sold a model for $240,000 in 2017, and given that these pop up on such rare occasions, this one will likely go for more. Given how successful Rolex’s bedazzling of sports watches has become since — perhaps highlighted by the most recent Rainbow Daytona — this SARU is a little piece. It’s an example of Rolex going all out without overdoing it: using sapphires and rubies to match the original Pepsi dial of the GMT is so obvious in retrospect, but it didn’t have to be this way.
Lot 224 estimate: $280,000 to $320,000
While Cartier has a long and storied history of producing mechanical watches (for example, creating the first men’s wristwatch 100 years ago), by the mid-1990s it was known primarily as a producer of quartz watches that were more jewelry than mechanical marvel.
In 1998, Cartier launches its Collection Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP), which took classic Cartier designs and put quality mechanical movements inside. For the Monopusher movement, Cartier entrusted THA Ebauche with designing a movement, which resulted in the all-new caliber 045MC.
Who was THA Ebauche you might be asking? It was the company of Halter, Journe & Flageollet. That’s F.P. Journe and Denis Flagolet, the latter of which went on to form De Bethune, where he used the caliber 045MC in a Monopusher of his own. Not only does this Tortue given you a classic Cartier design, but it also has legitimate ties to the independent movement that has come to define haute horology for nearly a generation.
Since it’s such a special movement, just a few more words on the calibre 045MC: It uses a clutch system with a swivel pin, which means that the transmission of the movement of the second wheel of the base movement to the chronograph’s central wheel is effected through a double swivel pin. This is advantageous because it suppresses the skip of the hand at the beginning of a translation movement, which is typically found in the mechanisms of chronographs with a lateral clutch.
All things considered, this watch is kind of a steal at the estimate price.
Lot 85 estimate: $10,000 to $15,000
Sure, steel Royal Oaks and Nautiluses are all the rage right now. But the prices people are paying can reach into the absurd, and there’s bound to be some slight “market correction” eventually.
Besides, this particular all-gold Royal Oak has always been my favorite, probably because it really is all-gold everything. From the iconic case and integrated bracelet to the champagne dial and matching date wheel, and even the applied AP logo and indices, it’s dripping. Add to that a smaller case size (36mm), and you’ve got a classic gold watch that doesn’t stand out too much.
Lot 103 estimate: $13,000 to $18,000