Classic Pateks make the best gifts at Bonhams New York

Fine Watches, Wristwatches and Clocks
13 Dec 2012
New York

NEW YORK — Energetic bidders, brimming with holiday spirit, packed Bonhams Madison Avenue location for the December 13 Fine Watches, Wristwatches & Clocks sale, attesting to Bonhams distinctive connection with New York-based watch and clock collectors. However, attendees faced fierce competition from international buyers, particularly from Asia, who participated with equal vigour via the phones and online, resulting in success across the board. The buzzing salesroom, convivial atmosphere, and exceptional offerings exemplified why Bonhams New York December Fine Watches, Wristwatches & Clocks auction remains so popular, year after year.

Following the stellar results seen in Bonhams September 2012 Fine Furniture, Decorative Arts & Clocks sale, important clocks continued to impress connoisseurs. The market's longevity stems in part from the relative rarity of this type of time piece, which are almost never produced by contemporary manufacturers. A 1920s Cartier fine rock crystal, lapis lazuli, jade and emerald boudoir clock sold for a remarkable $95,000, nearly four times its pre-sale low estimate. The stylish art deco piece clearly dazzled the crowds at Bonhams, showing why it is considered one of Cartier's most successful designs.

"In today's highly selective marketplace, the fine and rare pieces always encourage active bidding and command high prices," explains Bonhams Director of Watches & Clocks Jonathan Snellenburg. A fine and rare Renaissance revival enamelled gold and rock crystal miniature nef containing a watch from the latter 19th century also illustrated the point, selling for $28,750 after fast-paced, worldwide bidding.

Rare Patek Philippe wristwatches did very well in the sale, no surprise since the family-owned company has been producing watches of the highest quality for 175 years. Bonhams bidders were suitably taken with the sale's cover lot, a rare and very fine 18K gold chronograph wristwatch with registers, perpetual calendar and moon phases, circa 1955. This classic Patek, from the company's golden era, brought a remarkable $422,500, comfortably exceeding its pre-sale high estimate. Bonhams specialist and consultant William Rohr felt the Patek's notable result truly captured the spirit of 2012 for the department: "The sale of the 2499 Patek is the crowning jewel for Bonhams New York Watches and Clocks department's excellent year."

Wristwatches from the 1970s attracted significant attention, reflecting the current vogue for the 1970s in men's fashion and design overall. Ever popular Rolex watches also performed very well. A fine Rolex wristwatch in 18K gold with automatic dual time zone centre seconds circa 1977 from the esteemed collection of Margie and Robert E Petersen embodied both trends, selling above its estimate for $10,625.

Both emerging and established collectors with last-minute shopping on their minds are doubtlessly looking forward to Bonhams London sale of Fine Watches & Wristwatches on December 18 at New Bond Street.

To view the full auction, and to purchase a catalogue, please visit


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

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