This Sotheby’s London auction is part four of a series celebrating the English watch and contains English watches from the mid-seventeenth century all the way up to the 1970s, However, all eyes will certainly be on the prize in this sale: the George Daniels Spring Detent Tourbillon Pocket Watch.
To my longtime friends in the watch hobby, and perhaps to regular readers here as well, the mention of my name may conjure up a number of connotations: patron of the independents, fan of A. Lange & Söhne, admirer of Patek Philippe grand complications, and longtime customer of Jaeger-LeCoultre, among other characterizations more or less favorable.
But these likely never included vintage maven! So how did I get here?
Léon Hatot and Blancpain met in 1929 and Hatot revealed his prototype of a revolutionary movement with automatic winding: the inside of the Rolls case included a rail on which the whole movement moved up and down on ball bearings, powered by the motion of its owner and providing the name for this unique timepiece right out of the history books.
You may have heard of a few or more of the following historical people and events: Thomas Mudge, George Graham, John Harrison, the Longitude Prize, Captain James Cook, and the mutiny on the ‘HMS Bounty.’ However, you are less likely to have heard the name of a horologist who played a pivotal role in all of the above: Larcum Kendall (1719–1790). Come with me on a worldwide adventure involving timekeeping and history.
Among the many highlights of SalonQP 2015 was the “Inside a Second” exhibition of chronographs presented in partnership with the Foundation de la Haute Horlogerie. The exhibition included the George Daniels co-axial four-minute tourbillon with Daniels’ compact chronograph mechanism. And that would have been enough chronograph for me all by itself, but there were many more highlights.
You often see watches signed “LeCoultre,” but very rarely simply signed “Jaeger.” The reason is that Edmond Jaeger of Paris and Jacques-David LeCoultre of Le Sentier, Switzerland merged their businesses in the early 1900s and it became Jaeger-LeCoultre in 1937. While we often see the”LeCoultre” name on dials, we very, very rarely see one signed “Jaeger.” So, take a good long look, you may never see one again.
The very solid and spacious tent on the grounds of the La Reserve hotel in Geneva on May 10, 2015 turned out to be a very special time and place as the world’s most prestigious watches went under the hammer for the inaugural Phillips Watches auction in association with Bacs & Russo. Let’s have a look at how a few of the most interesteing pieces did at this premier event, which was presided over by auction guru Aurel Bacs.
Standing before my eyes was the most perfect of God’s creatures, a wonderful mix of Audrey Hepburn and Penelope Cruz. I think my heart skipped a beat, and I heard the chimes of every single minute repeater Patek Philippe had ever created – all chiming at exactly the same time! Six months later the gentle creature and I were married. This extraordinary story reflects the marvelous world of vintage watches: finding the rare bird, linking it to a story, and never letting it go.
The collector community has christened vintage Rolex models with a great many nicknames. One of these is the “rail” dial. While the exact origins of the word “rail” are not clear, this name is used for Rolex dials on which the letter C within the two lines stating “superlative chronometer” and “officially certified” line up as straight as train tracks. Have a look at an Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller, a watch water-resistant to a depth of 610 meters (2,000 feet), with a “rare” rail dial.
I recall when I first found a Rolex Submariner 5512 with zinc sulfide on the dial. It led to a major discussion on an Internet forum about whether the dial had been re-lumed or not. Well, years later, we know a lot more; and one thing that is now certain is that the dial had not been re-lumed, but that it was an original zinc sulfide dial.