Sotheby’s Masterworks of Time auction is an astounding collection of more than 800 long-unseen clocks, pocket watches, and watches. The catalog contains masterpieces rarely, if ever, seen in the public eye, and while Sotheby’s only ever refers to the late owner of this collection as “the collector” due to client confidentiality, SJX revealed him to have been German billionaire Erivan Haub, heir to and managing director of the Tengelmann Group, one of the largest retail entities in German-speaking Europe with close to 4,000 doors in grocery, clothing, DIY, miscellaneous retail, and more.
Haub, who passed away in March 2018 at the age of 85, was a collector in the truest sense of the word: his stamp collection worth millions is going under the hammer in a series of 30 different auctions over five years in cities as diverse as Wiesbaden, New York, Zurich, Stockholm, London, and Essen. Haub also collected art, which he kept in a dedicated museum in Washington state.
Haub spent 50 years amassing his collection of timepieces, which in its entirety artistically tells the story of timekeeping from the Renaissance period until today.
The collection contains examples of historically and technically significant pieces spanning 500 years of horology, ranging from early watches with German stackfreeds (spring-loaded cam mechanisms) to double-dialed astronomical timepieces, superb enamels, shaped watches, musical and automaton pieces, tourbillons, and complicated timepieces.
The watchmakers represented read like a Who’s Who of international horological giants: A. Lange & Söhne, Abraham-Louis Breguet, Dent, Ferdinand Berthoud, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Frères Rochat, and of course legendary independent watchmaker Dr. George Daniels.
The extraordinary collection is set to be offered in four dedicated sales at four locations – London, Geneva, New York, and Hong Kong – between July 2019 and October 2020. The London auction in July 2019 brought in a combined total of £6,300,814 (including buyer’s premium) – more half of which came from the sale of the Daniels Space Traveller II alone, which set an auction record for an independent watchmaker when it hammered for $4,561,407/£3,615,000 (including buyer’s premium).
Sotheby’s estimates that the collection in its four-auction entirety will realize $15-$27 million.
Following part one of this series of auctions, which took place in April 2019 in London, part two is set for November 11, 2019 in Geneva – and its main theme is the legacy of A. Lange & Söhne as the auction house describes Haub’s collection as containing “one of the greatest collections of timepieces by the Glashütte manufacturer, charting the history of the pioneering family firm, which changed the face of watchmaking in Germany.”
More than 30 impressive masterpieces from A. Lange & Söhne’s illustrious history are hitting the auction block along with rare pocket watches by Adolf Schneider, who worked alongside founder Ferdinand Adolph Lange in Glashütte as he set up that town’s industry.
Additionally, the auction will contain a double-singing bird cage with timepiece by Frères Rochat dating from around 1815 (perhaps not uncoincidentally F.A. Lange’s year of birth) and Swiss and other European pocket watches whose ages range between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries, including a quarter-repeating musical automat with concealed erotic automaton (lot 44). A few Breguets are here as well, even though the next auction is Breguet-themed (I can’t wait to see what comes up there) as well as a Vacheron Constantin pocket watch that belonged to King Umberto I of Italy (lot 133) and even a few Patek Philippes.
What will be missing from this auction is the projected highlight of it: the A. Lange & Söhne No. 41000 Jahrhunderttourbillon. You can read the full story of why it is so important and why it was removed from the auction in Sotheby’s Removes A. Lange & Söhne No. 41000 ‘Jahrhunderttourbillon’ From November 2019 Masterworks Of Time Auction – And You Won’t Believe Why.
Here is a short rundown of the new pocket watch highlights of what is sure to be a stunning auction of 143 historical lots.
Lot 22 is an A. Lange & Söhne grand complication hunter clock watch with perpetual calendar, minute repeater, moon phases, and split-seconds chronograph. Sold to its first owner in January 1901, this is the brand’s earliest perpetual calendar minute repeating grande and petite sonnerie clock with split-seconds chronograph. And it was the most complicated watch made by the firm to that point. No. 41277 was the first of only nine examples in this series made by A. Lange & Söhne between 1901 and 1928.
Auction estimate: CHF 400,000–600,000 / $403,000–$605,000
Result achieved: CHF 437,500 / $439,180 (including premiums)
One of only 14 one-minute tourbillons A. Lange & Söhne made between 1892 and 1925, this example (no. 82013) was one of only seven with up/down (power reserve) indication. In silver, it is open-faced, keyless, and contains a one-minute tourbillon with spring detent chronometer escapement and up/down power reserve indicator. This piece was first sold in 1924.
Auction estimate: CHF 80,000–120,000 / $81,000–$121,000
Result achieved: CHF 106,250 / $106,658 (including premiums)
Lot 18 is a quarter-repeating, open-faced clock watch with cylinder escapement made in 1820 by Johann Christian Friedrich Gutkaes, clockmaker to the court of Saxony at that time. Both Ferdinand Adolph Lange and Adolf Schneider were apprenticed to Gutkaes – both eventually becoming his sons-in-law. It is irrefutable that Gutkaes had more than a passing influence on the birth of the Glashütte watch industry.
Auction estimate: CHF 20,000–30,000 / $20,200–$30,300
Result achieved: CHF 12,500 / $12,548 (including premiums)
This gold, enamel, rock crystal, and sapphire-set keyless lever presentation watch with heavy gold chain and fob seal was created for King Ludwig II of Bavaria around 1885 by Adolf Schneider. Known as the “fairy tale king,” Ludwig II was responsible for some of Bavaria’s most-visited landmarks like Neuschwanstein and the lesser known, but equally delightful, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee castles. This watch’s case front is adorned with blue enamel over guilloché, while the back of the case bears a carved rock crystal panel with Ludwig II’s coat of arms.
Schneider was a lifelong friend and colleague of Ferdinand Adolph Lange. After studying together under Gutkaes, who would become father-in-law to each of them, Lange founded the watchmaking center of Glashütte with Schneider.
Auction estimate: CHF 40,000–60,000 / $40,300–$60,500
Result achieved: CHF 162,500 / $163,124 (including premiums)
For more information, please visit www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2019/masterworks-time-adolf-lange-golden-era-glashutte.