Diverse success at Bonhams Fine Watches & Wristwatches auction

Fine Watches and Wristwatches
12 Jun 2012
New York

NEW YORK—The Bonhams June 12 Fine Watches and Wristwatches auction offered a diverse selection of lots which witnessed great interest throughout, resulting in an auction total of $1.17 million. Jonathan Snellenburg, Director of Watches & Clocks, observed about the auction, "Fine examples of modern luxury watches within the mid-price range sold exceedingly well and proved to be the most desirable. I witnessed a substantial increase in new to auction buyers who attended the preview actively looking for something personally and ultimately being successful bidders."

A renewed interest in automaton watches has been evident with prices dramatically increasing over the past few years, a prime example being an exquisite and important automaton of Swiss watch construction. Leading the auction with a sold price of $76,900, this rare and fine example is a tour de force that combines two forms of reciprocal motion in two figures hammering and wood working with additional rotary motions producing the effects of fire and a fountain—both mechanically and decoratively inspiring.

The second top grossing lot of the auction was a unique Tiffany & Co. 18k gold hunter cased fob watch designed by Paulding Farnham, Tiffany & Co.'s preeminent nineteenth-century jewellery designer. This rare watch, pave set with pearls and emeralds, was made for the Columbian Exposition of 1893.

Another star lot is one with a bit of magic—an 18k gold hunter cased minute repeating chronograph given to legendary magician, Harry Houdini, by his English manager, Harry Day. This thoughtful gift's inscription reads "To my dear pal Houdini From his Sincere friend Harry Day May 1914" and the back lid contains a photograph of the talented magician. This top lot sold for $25,000, exceeding its pre-sale estimate of $10,000-15,000.

European buyers showed strong interest in German watch making, an example being a lot exemplary of the history of technological innovations in watch making. A rare working model of a "flying tourbillon" invented by Alfred Helwig who supervised the construction by his student Hermann Thunig sold for double its high pre-sale estimate of $4,000-6,000, at $12,500. Immediately following this lot's success was another Hermann Thunig design of a fine free sprung keyless lever watch, another fine example of the superb watch making skills taught at Deutsche Uhrmacherschule, selling for $8,750 (pre-sale est. $5,000-7,000).

Other highlights in the auction included several examples of Rolex watches including a fine 18k gold gem set bracelet watch selling for $40,625 (pre-sale est. $30,000-40,000); a fine lady's 18k white gold automatic bracelet pave-set with white diamonds selling for $31,250 (pre-sale est. $35,000-55,000); and a fine 18k rose gold automatic tachymeter chronograph selling for $23,750 (pre-sale est. $16,000-21,000).

Press Contacts:

Julie Saunders Guinta
(917) 206-1681


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

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