This week we are going hard into the upcoming Hong Kong auctions from Christie’s and Bonhams, focusing on some absolute mega-modern pieces as well as a few that could fly under the radar. Further, we’ve dug up an amazing two-tone Universal Geneve, a full box and papers gilt 1016, a tropical-dial 1950s Zenith chronograph, a rare Rolex clock, a killer vintage Memovox – oh, and an insanely mint and complete Omega Seamaster purchased at a military base in 1962 for under $1,000! This is your Bring A Loupe for Friday, May 29th, 2015.

Bonhams Hong Kong, June 4th

The June Hong Kong auctions are, to be totally honest, my least favorite of the year. They tend to focus on ultra-high-end modern watches that have little technical or collectible merit – and many of them just happen to be ugly. So here you won’t find gorgeous vintage perpetual calendars from the ’70s or chronographs from the ’40s, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some deals to be had. Here are some modern pieces from Bonhams’ June 4th HK sale to take a look at.

1997 IWC Perpetual Calendar

The ’90s is kind of a grey period for mechanical watches – it is at once the decade that brought us the rebirth of the industry with the likes of A. Lange & Sohne’s introduction of some truly industry changing products, Patek’s production of the 3970/5004/5020 and other greats, and the rise of Panerai and the ceramic pilots watch, but it’s also a period when the quality of production from most watch companies was really lacking. It was in the 1990s that we began to see independent brands start to work together, and many suppliers being gobbled up by the big boys. Still, watches from the ’90s represent tremendous value at times because they are neither modern nor vintage, so they aren’t really under the microscope of any serious group of collectors – this IWC is a prime example. This is a solid-gold perpetual calendar from IWC in a case that is no longer used by the brand, with a great vintage look. The best part? The estimate is $6,400 to $9,000 – for a gold perpetual calendar. There really isn’t much more to say about this – come on, that is insane. More on the lot here.

Peter Speake-Marin Picadilly Perpetual Calendar

The HK auctions are great for one thing, and that’s ripping a deal on a modern independent watch. Peter Speake-Marin is one of the watch world’s favorite sons, a WOSTEP-trained Brit living in Switzerland making some absolutely charming watches (we reviewed one here). Bonhams has one of his Picadilly-cased perpetual calendars in steel with a PVD-coated skeletonized dial. The base caliber is an ETA, but the perpetual calendar mechanism is indeed proprietary to Speake-Marin, and if we are to go by serial number, this is the seventh perpetual made in the series. The watch is seemingly unworn and comes with full boxes and papers. PSM’s Picadilly cases are a love/hate look, but his watchmaking ability and Peter himself are indisputable in terms of respect from his peers. This is a simply fantastic watch for a fraction of retail, and our guess is many will overlook this lot. The estimate for this PSM perpetual is just $9,000 to $13,000, which is downright silly for a hand-made QP from a well regarded independent. More here.

Audemars Piguet Huitieme Chronograph

This is a watch we’ve mentioned before in previous editions of Bring A Loupe not because it’s a particularly beautiful or fine watch, but because it reminds us how far we’ve come. When this watch was introduced in 1990, it was the only straight chronograph available from the big three – Patek Philippe’s production of the 1463 had stopped some 15 years before, Vacheron Contantin’s 4072 and 4178 had been gone for decades and the Les Historiques were still a few years away. If you wanted a high end chronograph (not perpetual chronograph – the 3970 was in production at this time from PP), you had no choice but to buy this Huitieme from AP – and our friend William Massena did. Think about that. As for the watch, the caliber 2186 is a modular chrono based on the JLC caliber 888 that would later find a home in the very earliest of Offshores – so again not the most elegant solution by today’s standards but pretty awesome for 1990. And, this example happens to be in rose gold, which, relative to yellow gold, is fairly uncommon. Bonhams has an estimate of $7,700 to $10,000 on this early self-winding chronograph AP, which ain’t bad. For an ’80s baby, this could be an interesting buy. More here.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo 15202 Yellow Gold

Here is another potential screaming deal – an AP Royal Oak Jumbo in 18k yellow gold with an estimate of $10,000 to $14,000. This is a reference 15202, which is still in production, though now only available in steel and pink gold, where as this is yellow. Further, the white dial is no longer available as of 2012, meaning that if you prefer yellow gold to pink and a white dial to the classic blue/grey, this could be an amazing buy. Further, the Jumbo in solid gold is one of my absolute favorite all-gold watches in the world – the ultra thin case, the beautifully finished bracelet, and the tapisserie dial make the gold Jumbo something very special. Also consider that to buy a new pink-gold Jumbo you are talking easily three times the high estimate of this watch, and a vintage 5402 in good shape should cost you double. More here.

Buyer Beware: A Vertu Smartphone

This isn’t a traditional buyer beware in that there is nothing wrong with the item description, rather just that it exists in the first place. Bonhams isn’t the first auction house to list a cell phone in a watch sale, but let’s hope it’s the last. Yeah, no link to this one.

Christie’s Hong Kong, June 3rd

Similar to the Bonhams sale, Christie’s HK focuses predominantly on modern high end watches so that is where this section will trend as well. Okay, there are a few Paul Newmans, a MilSub, and the occasional interesting Day-Date in this sale too, but those are hardly interesting anymore.

Two Very Special A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerks

Rare Zeitwerks are hot these days. Not only are we seeing them in the collections of Silicon Valley greats like Tony Fadell and Kevin Rose, but they are also doing extremely well at auction. Christie’s has arguably the two most desirable Zeitwerks for sale in the same auction: a luminous Zeitwerk (LE of 100 in platinum) and a Handwerkskunst (LE of 30). The last time a Phantom came up for sale it crushed the estimate and sold for $222,000 at Christie’s last year. Just earlier this month, Phillips sold a Handwerskunst for 221,000 CHF. These are BIG numbers for modern watches that were just made within the last few years and represents a resale value almost double retail, which you practically never see. It will be interesting to see how Christie’s does with these two big Zeitwerks – was 200+ a fluke or is this the new market for special Lange watches? Details on Phantom here, Handerkskunst here. Oh, and though it’s not super hot (yet?), it’s worth mentioning Christie’s has a platinum striking time Zeitwerk (LE of 100) in the sale too.

Harry Winston Opus One In Collaboration With F.P. Journe

This is a watch that not many newbies know about, but boy oh boy does it have some killer names associated with it. This is the Harry Winston Opus One. The Opus series from Winston can be credited with launching the careers of so many great independents, not the least of which being Mr. Maximilian Büsser, whose brainchild the Opus collection actually was. Yes, Max Busser was head of timepieces for Winston back in the day, and his first collaboration was with none other than Mr. F.P. Journe. The Opus One is a Resonance under a different name and only 18 were produced, each in unique form. This particular example features two engine-turned silver-grey time displays with diamond and black diamond-set chapter rings combined with subsidiary seconds on the silver-grey brushed dial plate, fan-form sector with diamond and black diamond-set chapter ring for power reserve. The pre-sale estimate on this important and uncommon Journe for Harry Winston is $75,000 to $120,000. More here.

Buyer Beware: A Questionable Rolex, Or Unique Dial?

One vintage Rolex that caught our eye, and not necessarily for the best reasons, is this reference 9083. The 9083 is a thin but large watch from the late 1950s that features a “before its time” integrated bracelet. The watches are uncommon and interesting on their own, but what makes this one curious is the dial. There are two accepted types of dials for the 9083, one of which features a honeycomb pattern and printed Rolex logo that looks like this and the other is an off-white smooth dial again with printed Rolex logo that looks like this. This particular example is funny because it features a serial number within the range of those 9083s with a honeycomb dial but it’s smooth – and even more curious, the Rolex logo appears applied instead of printed. I have not seen another 9083 with an applied logo, and when you add that to the very, very low position of “Precision” on the dial relative to others and the dark printing of the minute scale, I would say this watch features a dial that is not original, or one that has been altered in some way. Couple that with the aggressive(ish) estimate of $5,900-10,000 USD and this is one watch I’d really avoid. More here.

Some Great Vintage Watches, Finally

Okay, now that we have the best and worst of the Bonhams and Christie’s sales out of the way we can get into some killer vintage pieces from around the Web. These you’re going to like, a lot.

Gilt 1016 With Boxes And Papers

Rolex Explorers are something special, and the market sees them so much less frequently than any other Rolex (Sport or not) that demand is really palpable. The guys at HQ Milton have a seemingly nice gilt-dial 1016 for sale, which is worthy of a mention by itself, but the watch goes next level when you see it has full boxes and papers. The watch dates to ’63 and was sold by Bailey Banks and Biddle in 1963, which all documents support. It features a nice dial with exclamation point and an original but stretched jubilee bracelet. The watch is by no means mint, but it looks honest and you don’t see any 1016s with boxes and papers for sale any more, let alone a gilt example. HQ Milton is asking $19,200, which seems fair. More here.

Eberhard 39 MM Pre-Extra Fort Chronograph In Gold

Last week I showed you a black dial Eberhard split-seconds chronograph that was for sale in Italy for around $35,000. You guys liked it so much I thought i’d dig up another watch in a similar vein, though this time less expensive. The watch looks very much the same, but it’s a standard chrono instead of a split and has a more interesting dial. Price is high at $9K, but the seller is accepting offers. Gorgeous watch, in my opinion. More here.

1962 Omega Seamaster Crosshair Dial With Box And Papers

So you like the idea of an early 1960s watch with boxes and papers but don’t want to spend 20k? Man oh man do we have the answer for you. This is a killer Omega Seamaster dating to 1962 that has so much going for it it’s a little crazy. First, the watch itself is gorgeous – reference CK2846 featuring self-winding caliber 500. The steel case is absolutely original with gorgeous chamfers on the edge. Even the Seamaster engraving on case back is still visible. On top of that, the dial is a desirable “cross-hair” configuration in equally mint, original shape. The watch then comes with the original Omega strap, original signed steel Omega buckle, an additional Omega strap, oh and full box, papers and receipts! As if that wasn’t enough, the watch was purchased at an RCAF outpost exchange in France! Oh, and did I mention it’s listed at $995? If you want it, buy it now or it’s gone within 60 seconds, I promise you. More here.

Mid-century Rolex ephemera could be its own category in any watch auction. This stuff is so valuable and so desirable it’s crazy. Derek Dier up in Canada has a very rare and cool “hoof” clock that was likely given to dealers as promotion. It reads “Rolex, Time To The Second.” It comes in its original (awesome) wooden box and he has it listed for just under $10K. More here.

Universal Geneve Compax For Turler With Fancy Lugs Plus Two-Tone Case

I’ll level with you guys, I may buy this. This is a Universal Geneve I’ve never seen before and I absolutely adore it. The watch is absolutely a UG, though it doesn’t say so anywhere on the dial, which reads “Turler” – a longstanding retailer of fine watches in Zurich. But what makes this watch so amazing is the case – it is stainless steel with fancy yellow-gold lugs. I don’t ever remember seeing this case before, in any metal configuration. The two-tone nature of it adds to the coolness, and the watch reminds me a lot of something like a Vacheron 4178. Those razor-thin blued hands are fantastic, too. This is such an elegant and interesting watch, and it’s for sale at Caso Watches in Italy at 3,500 euro.

1950s Zenith Pilots Chronograph With Chocolate Dial

Because there is a 50-50 chance by the time this story is published I will have bought the Universal above I wanted to give you another very cool option from Caso. This is a killer 1950s Zenith pilots style chronograph, with a rich chocolate brown colored dial. The case is a waterproof, anti-magnetic screw back and it gives off a Type XX look for much less coin – Caso is asking 4,500 euro for this beauty. More here.

Two Stainless-Steel Patek Philippe 565s

The 565 is one of the three mainstays of vintage Patek Calatrava collecting and this week in Switzerland, I came across two very cool examples. Both of them are in the most desirable metal – stainless steel – and both feature interesting dials. One of them is Hausman signed with a gorgeous patina to the dial (some damage to the edge) while the other has a cool two-scale alternating Roman configuration. Both are available via Nice Time in Lugano, run by Davide Parmegiani.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox European Dial

The Memovox is one of those vintage watches that absolutely should be more expensive than they are – great manufacture, in-house, interesting complication. This example for sale by John Lydon (a trusted seller) is interesting because it is a European watch (dial and movement signed Jaeger-LeCoultre instead of just LeCoultre) and because it is void of a date. These caliber 815 watches are far more rare than those with caliber 825, with date. The watch looks very clean and honest, and has nice case proportions. For $3,000, you can’t go wrong. More here.

Some may have noticed that for the past two weeks I, Ben Clymer, have been writing the Friday Bring A Loupe column. The reason is not because I wanted to (though, this does bring me back to the earliest days of HODINKEE, and my entire goal with this site is to share an insider’s knowledge of watch buying) but because our dear friend and long-time contributor Mr. Eric Wind made a change this week. Eric accepted position with the Christie’s watch department as a senior specialist and VP, and as per HODINKEE’s policy of complete editorial independence, he resigned as a contributor. Eric is a dear friend of mine, and one of the most knowledgeable and passionate watch experts I know. It pains me to lose him as a contributor but I am thrilled for him as a friend and I can’t wait to see what he does at Christie’s. Do not fear though, Bring A Loupe will live on!