Bonhams to sell pocket watch made for Coco Chanel's French lover

Fine Watches & Wristwatches Including a Private English Collection
11 Jun 2013
London, New Bond Street

The 18ct gold open face automatic Breguet (estimate £15,000 - £20,000) was sold to the famed illustrator and designer Paul Iribe in 1933, the year he collaborated with Chanel on an extravagant jewellery collection

A pocket watch made for the illustrator and designer Paul Iribe – one-time lover of the legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel – will be among the lots in the Bonhams Fine Watches and Wristwatches Sale in New Bond Street, London, UK, on Tuesday 11th June.

The fine and rare 18ct gold open face automatic Breguet with power reserve (Lot 160) was sold to the Frenchman in 1933 for 10,800 francs. It is estimated to realise between £15,000 and £20,000 (€17,700 - €23,700) at auction.

Paul Iribe (1883-1935) is acknowledged as having been a leading influence on Art Deco style. First known for his political caricatures in Parisian journals and satirical newspapers, Iribe then spent a number of years in Hollywood working on film sets before returning to Paris in the early 1920s, where he met Coco Chanel (1883-1971), founder of the iconic Chanel brand of clothing, jewellery and fragrance.

Iribe's affair with Chanel is widely thought to be behind the break-up of the artist's second marriage, to heiress Maybelle Hogan, in 1928. Many of his subsequent drawings and political publications would feature Chanel's likeness, re-imagined as Marianne – the symbol of French freedom. Although Chanel was known to have had a number of romances during her early career, her relationship with Iribe was said to have been one of the most significant of her life.

In 1933 – the year Iribe bought this watch – the pair collaborated in the design of an extravagant jewellery collection commissioned by the International Guild of Diamond Merchants. The 'Bijoux de Diamants' Collection was executed almost entirely in diamonds and platinum, and inspired by the triple themes of knots, stars and feathers. When exhibited in Chanel's home in the Rue du Fauborg-Saint-Honoré in Paris, it drew enormous crowds.

Sadly Iribe would pass away just two years later, collapsing while playing tennis at Chanel's villa on the French Riviera in September 1935.

Pocket watches

Among the 378 lots on offer at the Bonhams 11th June sale are 130 pocket watches and eight clocks from an impressive single-owner collection spanning almost 350 years of horology. The collection, which was amassed between the 1930s and 1962, spans a period in watch and clock-making from the early 1600s to the mid-19th century.

Elsewhere in the sale a stainless steel manual wind Rolex chronograph wristwatch together with fitted box and original guarantee booklet is estimated to realise between £50,000 and £70,000 (Lot 378). Other lots of interest include Lot 374, an 18ct gold perpetual calendar Patek Philippe chronograph wristwatch with phases of the moon and certificate of origin (estimate £40,000 - £50,000), and Lot 328, a stainless steel manual wind Rolex 'Paul Newman' 'Daytona' chronograph bracelet watch offered by its original owner together with original box and guarantee (estimate £35,000 - £45,000).

Another pocket watch on offer is Lot 188, a very rare 14ct gold keyless wind full hunter Waltham gifted to the Captain of the British tug boat Champion in 1919 by Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States (estimate £2,000 - £3,000). Henry William Webster was awarded the watch by the President in recognition of his ship's assistance of the US vessel Piave when it ran aground on Goodwin Sands in the English Channel on 31st January 1919. The watch is presented in a polished hinged case with United States of America Presidential insignia, and commemorative engraving.

Paul Maudsley, Director of the Bonhams Watch Department, said: "With a line-up of more than 370 lots, including a wonderful one-owner collection of early pocket watches, the Bonhams 11th June sale will offer something to suit every collector's taste.

"We are particularly pleased to be offering the collection which, in 14 years at Bonhams, is one of the most delightful I have seen. My particular favourite is Lot 36, a single-hand Nathaniel Chamberlain pocket watch dating from around 1690, with a tortoiseshell case and silver inlay, but this offering really does cover all areas, spanning as it does a period from approximately 1610 to the 1850s."


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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