Two Recently Discovered Musical Clocks Made for the Chinese Imperial Court over 200 Years Ago Headline Bonhams 'Hong Kong Watches 3.0' Sale

Hong Kong – Two magnificent engraved ormolu quarter striking musical clocks made for the Chinese Qing imperial court in the late 18th century lead the Bonhams sale of Hong Kong Watches 3.0 on Tuesday 26 November.

The larger of the two – A Magnificent and Large Chased And Engraved Ormolu Quarter Striking Musical Clock With Automata 'Sailing Ships', Made For The Chinese Market, Circa 1795 (estimate: HK$ 2,500,000 – 4,500,000; pictured above) – was created by famed English Master clockmaker Henry Borrell (1757 – 1840), who is known for his grand and horologically important export market clocks made for the imperial Chinese and Turkish markets.

The Chinese imperial court's fascination with striking clocks has roots in the first European Jesuit missions to China by Matteo Ricci and Michele Ruggieri in the mid-16th Century.

Mechanical clocks were amongst the most prized tributary gifts to be given to Chinese courtiers, and ultimately to Emperors of the late Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911), who were impressed by the West's technological prowess and as a result granted European emissaries access to the country.

Recently discovered in a Japanese private collection, this important clock features a beguiling yet hugely complicated automata scene of ships riding on glass 'waves' with musical and quarter striking chimes, offering today's collectors a chance to once again marvel in its beauty and technical complexity like Emperor Qianlong would have.

Clocks by Henry Borrell are amongst the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, and are exceptionally rare to come to auction. A similar proportioned example to this one on offer was sold by another international auction house in 2012 for £735,650 / approx. HK$ 8.9 million.

Lot details:

• Henry Borrell, A Magnificent and Large Chased And Engraved Ormolu Quarter Striking Musical Clock With Automata 'Sailing Ships', Made For The Chinese Market, Circa 1795 (estimate: HK$2,500,000 – 4,500,000)

• Robert Philp, A Fine Ormolu Quarter Striking Musical Mantel Clock, Made For The Chinese Market, Circa 1780 (estimate: HK$ 250,000 – 450,000)

Vintage and Modern Patek Philippe: A Trend-setting Comeback

Produced almost half a century apart, the Patek Philippe models 3448 and 5013P were once considered to be ahead of their times due to an uncommon design.

The model 3448 on offer in this sale, A Rare and Important Yellow Gold Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch With Moon Phases. 1970 (estimate: HK$ 800,000 – 1,200,000; pictured far right on p.1) sports an enormous dial measuring 37.5mm, standing out from the market then saturated with standard dials from 34 to 36mm or even smaller. Ringo Starr, world famous drummer for the Beatles, is known to be a collector of the model 3448.

Similarly, the model 5013P, A Rare and Very Early Production Platinum Perpetual Calendar Minute Repeating Wristwatch With Moonphases And Retrograde Date, Complete With Original Certificate And Presentation Box. 1993 (estimate: HK$ 2,850,000 – 4,000,000; pictured far left on P.1) comes in a rare tonneau-shaped case, which marked a distinct departure from the designs in the late 1990s, where watch cases were mostly round.

Produced in a very limited quantity, both distinguished models are now a rarity in the market, where their once edgy designs have eventually become highly sought-after for their unique characteristics among today's collectors in-the-know.

Other highlights include:

• Property from a Swiss private collection, a collection of close to 3,000 Swatch watches to be offered as a single lot (estimate: HK$400,000 – 800,000), including iconic art pieces by such artists as Keith Haring and Kiki Picasso.

• A selection of enamel-dialled Patek Philippe watches. The process of making an enamel dial is a timely process and requires fastidious craftsmanship. The 6 examples on offer are testaments to the understated elegance for which Patek Philippe is world-renowned. Lots include a Patek Philippe. A Very Rare Limited Edition "Gouldian Finch" White Gold Wristwatch With Cloisonné Enamel, In Single Factory Seal. 2016 (estimate: HK$850,000 – 1,400,000)


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