Cartier carries the day in $1.2 million Heritage Auctions timepiece event

DALLAS — Collectors had their eyes on Cartier at the $1.2 million Heritage Auctions Signature Timepiece sale on Dec. 7 as a rare diamond, jade, pearl, coral and rock mystery clock brought $155,350 and a gorgeous silver, gold jadeite and pearl four dial eight day lamp-form desk clock, from the collection of the American Red Cross, brought $65,725. All prices include 19 1/2 percent buyer’s premium.

"I’d have to say that we were pleasantly surprised across the board," said Jim Wolf, Director of Timepiece Auctions at Heritage. "The rare Cartier examples of course performed superbly. Prices, however, were solid up and down the scale."

Any mystery clock is hotly pursued when it comes on the market, which is a rare enough event in and of itself, and a few determined collectors weren’t going to let the opportunity to acquire such a piece get away without a fight. The result was spirited bidding and the final $155,000+ price, which more than doubled the low estimate of $70,000 for this Art Deco inspired masterpiece.

The number two lot in the auction, a very fine Cartier silver, gold, jadeite and pearl four dial eight day lamp-form desk clock, No. 1611 circa 1930s, came from the collection of the American Red Cross and is one of only three examples known to exist.

A very similar Cartier, number 1673, sold for a hammer price in excess of $30,000 at another auction house in November 2008. At that time, research indicated that only two examples of this interesting creation existed, which were likely made by special order for a connoisseur of the art of Cartier. This third find, with its connection to the American Red Cross, more than tripled its low estimate of $20,000, arriving at $65,725 when bidding settled.

"Any time you see Cartier examples of such rarity and beauty there is always going to be a demand," said Wolf. "Collectors knew they aren’t likely to see similar examples on the market again anytime soon and were willing to pay good money to secure these pieces."

No conversation about fine timepieces is complete without talking about Rolex, perhaps the most recognizable high-end watch name in the world. A Rolex diamond and gold President with Meteorite Dial, Ref. 118388, circa 2007, was the top lot for the legendary watchmaker in the Heritage Auctions’ event, as it brought $26,290. Close on the heels of the Rolex President watch was a Rolex Reference 6263/6262 Steel Daytona Cosmograph, circa 1970. This example was hotly contested between erudite collectors before arriving at $21,510.

An exquisitely crafted Patek Philippe Ref. 2526 gent’s gold automatic wristwatch with enamel dial, circa 1958, received a good deal of attention before bringing $21,510 to tie for the fourth highest lot in the auction, while a very fine F.P. Journe platinum Octa Automatic Lune Chronometer No. 051-AL, circa 2007 came in just behind it with a highly respectable final price of $21,110.

"We’re seeing solid and stable results in the fine timepiece market right now," said Wolf. "Collectors, as evidenced by the 87 percent sell-through rate, are taking advantage of steady prices and getting good value for those dollars."

Another highlight of the timepiece event is the sale of an E. Howard & Co. Series IV multicolor gold box hinge pocket watch, circa 1870s, with massive N size case measuring 54 mm, 18 karat rose, white, yellow and green gold, central overlay initials and floral wreath on the front, back with a floral wreath and shipping dock scene, inner gold dust cover and display glass over the movement. Double sunk dial, fancy Arabic numerals, red five minutes, blued steel crescent hands, sub seconds. Movement description: 3/4 plate adjusted nickel movement, 15 jewels, No. 47715, deep screw down gold jewel settings. Dial and movement are both signed E. Howard & Co. Boston, case is original with JS trademark, gross weight is 170.2 grams. Price realized: $10,157.50.

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Photos courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries.


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