Divers' Watches Make a Splash at Bonhams
Rolex Tool Watches Exceed Estimates in Bond Street Fine Watches Sale

London - A pair of Rolex tool watches made a splash today, surpassing their top estimates in the 70-lot Bonhams Fine Watches Sale in London, which had a sell-through rate of 87 per cent and achieved a total of more than £2.34 million.

A circa 1975 Military Submariner, Ref: 5513/5517, issued to a Royal Navy diver in 1977, was the standout lot of the day, selling for £195,600, soaring past its £120,000 top pre-sale estimate.

This Rolex was acquired by the vendor, also a diver and the watch's second owner, in the early 1980s. He also used the timepiece for diving until he lost the bezel on a dive in 1996. The watch was then kept in a drawer until going under the hammer in the Bonhams Bond Street saleroom.

In the slipstream of the MilSub was another working example of a Rolex diving watch which set the saleroom alight – a Comex Sea Dweller, Ref: 1665, Circa 1977, which sold for £183,000, also far surpassing its top pre-sale estimate of £120,000.

This fine and rare stainless steel automatic calendar bracelet watch was offered by former Comex diver, Graham Rowley, and was accompanied by 11 log books charting his underwater adventures and celebrated diving career.

One of the rarest pieces by Patek Philippe – another choice name of connoisseur collectors – was a modern pocket watch which also eclipsed its pre-sale estimate. Following a spirited two-way bidding battle between a telephone and an online bidder, the fresh-to-market timepiece achieved £157,800.

Showcasing the company's expertise, the 18k gold perpetual calendar pocket watch, Reference 962, featured a moon phase, leap year and 24-hour indication. No more than four pieces were produced and there had only been one other seen at auction before.

Penny Andrews, Head of Bonhams Watches London, said: "This was a fantastic result, demonstrating a strong UK market.

"The sale attracted many 'fresh to market' pieces and, on the bidding side, many new clients, particularly in the UK and the US, with representation from 40 different countries. It also encapsulated the Bonhams ethos of being a local auction house with an international audience as numerous key pieces were sourced from our regional network.

"The performance of the two most valuable lots, the Rolex MilSub and Comex, shows that provenance is as important as ever. It was also refreshing to see a pocket watch enjoy such success in the saleroom with the Patek Philippe Ref:962 selling above its top estimate. It shows that there is an appreciation of watchmaking in all its forms."

Other highlights of the Bonhams Fine Watches Sale included:

Cartier Tank à Guichets, Ref: 2817, Limited Edition No.061/100, Circa 2006, doubled its pre-sale estimate, selling for £78,420.
This 18K rose gold manual wind jump hour wristwatch, one of a limited run of 100 Tank à Guichet, was part of the Collection Privée Cartier Paris of 2006, reproducing historic designs from the Cartier archives. This model was inspired by the original Tank à Guichets, Cartier's very first Jump hour model produced in 1928.

Cartier Panthère Espiègle de Cartier, Reference 3792, circa 2018, sold for £82,200.
Another success for Cartier was this ladies' diamond and onyx reversible wristwatch,
comprising more than 1000 individually set diamonds. styled in the form of a panther, arguably the house's most famous design. The signature piece was made famous by the brooch commissioned by the Duke of Windsor as a gift for Wallis Simpson in 1948.

The next sale for the Bonhams Watches team will be held on 22 May in Hong Kong followed by the New York Online in July before returning to London on 13 September.

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