Audemars Piguet Rarity is the Pearl of Bonhams Fine Watches Sale

An exceptionally rare example of the celebrated Audemars Piguet Royal Oak wristwatch with a mother of pearl dial is the star of the Bonhams Fine Watches Sale, which offers a treasure trove of many interesting timepieces on 15 December in London.

The Royal Oak Automatic Perpetual Calendar, reference 25686PT, circa 1992, is one of 233 produced and one of only 26 executed in platinum. An outstanding feature is its mother of pearl dial with its exceptional colour and cloud-like appearance. The watch has an estimate of £120,000 – 180,000.

The finale to Bonhams Watches' London auctions, the Fine Watches Sale traditionally presents the most prestigious names in horology, with Rolex, Patek Philippe and Cartier being perennial favourites and this sale is no exception.

Jonathan Darracott, Bonhams Global Head of Watches, commented: "This year's catalogue is a real page-turner, presenting an extraordinary array of unusual and interesting timepieces."

No fewer than 44 Rolexes are offered in the 73-lot auction, ranging from a perennially popular circa 1967 Paul Newman Cosmograph Daytona, ref 6239, estimate £90,000-120,000, to rare hard stone dial variants, including a circa 1974 Rolex Datejust, ref 1601, with lapis lazuli dial, estimate £30,000 – 40,000.

Rolex GMT Master, ref 16750, commissioned specifically for the Omani police force, estimate £70,000 – 100,000

One of the rarest pieces is a GMT Master, ref 16750, commissioned specifically for the Omani police force. This circa 1983 example is one of the most exclusive of the famous 'Khanjar' timepieces, produced especially by Rolex for the Sultan of Oman during the 1970s and 1980s.

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, a known watch connoisseur, would gift the Khanjar watches, featuring the Omani state symbol of the traditional ceremonial dagger on their dials, to a select few ambassadors, dignitaries and staff for loyal service.

The watch offered is distinguished by its black dial adorned by the Omani police emblem, featuring the Khanjar curved daggers set beneath a crown and within a wreath. This very desirable collectors' watch is presented in excellent condition and has an estimate of £70,000 – 100,000.

circa 2013 Rolex Explorer 214270, customised by Pro-Hunter, estimate £60,000 – 80,000

Other Rolexes on offer include a circa 2013 Explorer 214270, customised by Pro-Hunter with a cloisonné enamel world map dial, depicting Eurasia, Africa and Australasia, estimate £60,000 – 80,000; and a circa 1956 Submariner Red Depth, Reference 6536/1, estimate £60,000 – 80,000, one of the earlier pre-crown guard Submariners as worn by Sean Connery playing the cinematic James Bond in Dr. No and Goldfinger; and one of the most sought-after tool watches.

Also offered is a circa 1972 Military Submariner, reference 5513, one of a limited batch commissioned by the British Ministry of Defence for the British Special forces, estimate £60,000 – 80,000.

Further Rolexes of note are listed below.

circa 1930 Cartier Grand Tank Cintrée, estimate £40,000 – 60,000

Cartier has become increasingly sought-after by collectors in recent months and the Fine Watches Sale presents a brace of fine vintage examples. The first is a rare platinum circa 1930 Grand Tank Cintrée (estimate £40,000 – 60,000), an extreme example of the Cartier Tank, considered outlandish at the time due to its long rectangular shape and curved back case. Consequently, just a small quantity was produced but it remains one of the best-known designs from the founding years of wristwatch making.

Cartier lady's platinum and diamond cocktail watch, circa 1930, estimate £10,000 – 15,000

Its pair is a lady's platinum and diamond cocktail watch from the same era. The circa 1930 timepiece is also rectangular, adorned with diamond set bezel and lugs, baguette cut diamonds on the quarters and a cabochon diamond set crown. It has an estimate of £10,000-15,000.

Omega Speedmaster Apollo Soyuz wristwatch, estimate £25,000 – 30,000

Finally, a rare and original 1976 example of the Omega Speedmaster Apollo Soyuz wristwatch, produced for the Italian market, is offered with an estimate of £25,000 – 30,000.

The limited-edition timepiece celebrated the Apollo Soyuz space mission, featuring the mission badge on its dial and a special embossed case back depicting the Saturn Rocket on a map of the world. Very few of these original pieces were created and they have been celebrated ever since with anniversary editions being produced at 20, 25 and 30 years.

This example, number 159, was purchased new in 1980 and was inherited by the present owner who left it unused in a draw for many years and only sporadically wearing it. For this reason, the dial is in excellent condition with virtually no UV damage.

The Bonhams Fine Watches Sale takes place from 14.00 on Wednesday 15 December at the flagship New Bond Street saleroom. Bids will be accepted from clients in the room (respecting social distancing and all local COVID-related guidelines), as well as online, telephone and absentee bids. Contact: [email protected] register.

All lots can be viewed at Bonhams New Bond Street in advance on:

Sunday 12 December 11am – 3pm
Monday 13 December 9am – 4.30pm
Tuesday 14 December 9am – 4.30pm
Wednesday 15 December 9am – 12pm

For further details contact:[email protected]


Circa 1974 Rolex Datejust, ref 1601, a fine and rare 18k white gold automatic calendar bracelet with hard stone lapis lazuli dial, estimate £30,000 – 40,000.

Circa 1990 Rolex Day-Date ref 18238, a fine and rare 18k gold automatic calendar bracelet watch with diamond set bloodstone dial, estimate £15,000 – 20,000.

Circa 1959 Rolex GMT-Master, ref 6542, used in the 1959 Pegasus Overland Expedition, estimate £8,000 – 12,000. In 1959, eight men from the Parachute Regiment of the British Army in two Land Rovers embarked on a 51- week expedition covering 34 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia. It is believed that the voyage was sponsored by Rolex who provided each member of the group a wristwatch to wear on the trip. The current lot is offered by the family of one of the eight.

1970 Rolex Daytona ref 6239, estimate £25,000 – 35,000, offered by the original owner. An example of the first Daytona series model, distinguished by its dial only featuring the 'Cosmograph' designation, rather than 'Daytona' of later series. This watch, purchased in 1970 as a belated 21st birthday present, is offered by its original owner together with the original receipt and guarantee. It was regularly serviced by Rolex until 2000 since when it has been kept in a safe unused.

Circa 1968 Cosmograph Daytona, ref 6241, estimate £60,000 – 80,000. One of the rarer Daytonas, and one of very few made in 14k gold, with an even more exclusive black dial with printed 'Daytona' legend in gold. This watch is offered by the family of a private and distinguished collector who had the normal plunge pushers changed for screw down pushers at some point to make it more water resistant.

2002 Rolex Datejust, estimate £20,000-30,000. A lady's 18k gold and diamond set wristwatch, offered with its original receipt of purchase from Harrods.


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