Bonhams Sets New Auction Record with First-Ever Cartier Mystery Clock
CARTIER | PENDULE MYSTERIEUSE "MODEL A", A SUPER RARE ART DECO ROCK CRYSTAL, YELLOW GOLD, ONYX, ENAMEL AND DIAMOND-SET MYSTERY CLOCK, CIRCA 1928

• Cartier's First Mystery Clock "Model A" Sold for HK$6.9 Million
• More than four times the pre-sale estimate and far exceeding the previous record.

Yesterday in Hong Kong, "Model A", Cartier's first-ever mystery clock and a museum-quality masterpiece, sold for HK$6,870,000 at Bonhams Hong Kong Watches sale. After more than 50 competitive bids from international collectors, the prized clock soared four times above its pre-sale estimate of HK$1,500,000-2,500,000, setting a new auction record for any Cartier "Model A" Mystery Clock. This lot was offered by the Mulloon Institute, a non-profit organisation in Australia which provides research, education and advocacy that actively demonstrates, monitors and shares innovative approaches to regenerative land management. Proceeds of this sale will go to the Mulloon Institute to support its work in creating a resilient and productive environment for agriculture to combat the impact of climate change.

Sharon Chan, Bonhams Director of Watches, Asia, commented: "We are delighted, but not surprised, that the exceedingly rare mystery clock 'Model A' could achieve a record-setting price that it deserves. This clock on offer not only is well-preserved, but also came with its original package and has recently been serviced by Cartier. Bonhams is proud to lead the sale with a vintage clock – something that captured the heart of global collectors."

110 years ago, Cartier launched its first-ever mystery clock, where the "mystery" comes from its two bejewelled hands appearing to be floating in a crystal-clear case without a single hint of mechanical parts. The mystery clock, acclaimed by the fashion magazine La Gazette du Bon Ton as the "miracle of timekeeping", was a ground-breaking work of the Art Deco movement in the 1920s, and has since been produced by the brand over the following decades.

Between the late 19th century and World War I – also known as the Belle Époque – renowned French illusionist Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin experimented on something quite unprecedented. He combined magic and the latest technology into clock design, attaching the hands of the clock to two glass discs, each then fitted into a metal border edged with gear teeth. The movement was housed in the clock base, so that the dial appeared to be floating. The illusion was extraordinary at the time, and marked the birth of the first mystery clock.

Inspired by Robert-Houdin's clocks, Cartier decided to produce its first branded mystery clock. The project was led by Louis Cartier and Maurice Coüet, the clockmaker, and the invention was simply named as "Model A". The clock captivated the world upon its release in 1912, attracting even the famous financier John Pierpont Morgan to acquire one.

Each mystery clock takes not one, but many ateliers and their master craftsmen to produce. The "secret" was however held so closely, that not even Cartier's own sales team knew the mechanism behind it, until decades later.

Now, Model A is already a widely-celebrated masterpiece of horology, and has been collected by such prestigious figures as Queen Mary and Joseph Stalin. It has also been repeatedly featured as a showstopper highlight in every Cartier horology exhibition.

Other notable sales include:

• PATEK PHILIPPE | NAUTILUS - GENEVA SEAL, REF. 5711/1A-001, A FINE STAINLESS STEEL BRACELET WATCH WITH DATE, CIRCA 2010
Sold for HK$1,389,000

• PATEK PHILIPPE | NAUTILUS - GENEVA SEAL, REF.5712/1A-001, A FINE STAINLESS STEEL BRACELET WATCH WITH POWER RESERVE INDICATION, MOON PHASES AND DATE, CIRCA 2006
Sold for HK$1,074,000

• AUDEMARS PIGUET | ROYAL OAK - QUANTIEME PERPETUAL, REF.25820SP, A RARE STAINLESS STEEL AND PLATINUM PERPETUAL CALENDAR BRACELET WATCH WITH MOON PHASES AND LEAP YEAR DISPLAY, MADE IN 2004
Sold for HK$1,011,000

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