Ineichen Zurich held two days’ worth of watch auctions in Zurich and online November 20-21, 2021 with 198 ticking specialties that included a bevy of independent timepieces.
One part of the auction called “12 Shades of Grey” was a special section of timepieces produced in white metals that emphasized their visual coloring. It contained watches by brands and makers like Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Breguet, F.P. Journe, Vianney Halter, Konstantin Chaykin, and Urwerk.
Notable among the 17 “12 Shades of Grey” lots were three pieces by F.P. Journe: the Chronomètre à Résonance Ruthenium Collection in a platinum case; the Tourbillon Souverain Ruthenium Collection; and the Chronomètre Souverain de Boulle, which is one of only ten watches that were supplied to Dallas retailer de Boulle Diamond & Jewelry in 2007. This piece belonged to the owner of the boutique.
See footage of these as well as several watches by Audemars Piguet in A Few Standout Watches At The Upcoming Ineichen Auction (Video).
Another special section was called “Alchemy of Gold” and had wristwatches in yellow gold by watchmakers and brands as diverse as Audemars Piguet, A. Lange & Söhne, Patek Philippe, Girard-Perregaux, Vianney Halter, Tissot, Daniel Roth, and Vacheron Constantin.
The auction featured two examples of Vianney Halter’s Antiqua, including one in yellow gold from approximately 2000 that was in the “Alchemy of Gold” section. The other Antiqua in white gold was from 1999 and part of the “12 Shades of Grey” section.
This now-legendary steampunk-styled piece of watch history is not only a quirky interpretation of the perpetual calendar that allows the wearer to read the hour and minutes, month/leap year, day of the week, and the date via four riveted “portholes,” it is the watch that for many kicked off a love of independent watchmaking.
Halter’s guiding design principle in making this piece back in 1998 was an ideal he calls the Futur Anterieur (roughly translated, “the future as seen from the past”). Because we cannot see the future, at any point in time we envision it through the lens of present-day items and technologies. No one has done this quite the way Halter has, with this watch becoming horological canon, beginning the modern design movement in watches.
Another interesting independent timepiece from the Alchemy of Gold section was an Andersen Genève minute repeater from approximately 1995 that hammered for CHF 34,000. Housed in a stepped 38 mm yellow gold case, this is one of the rare classically styled timepieces by the founder of the A.H.C.I., Svend Andersen.
And a beautiful Daniel Roth Perpetual Calendar Skeleton in yellow gold from this section hammered for CHF 50,000. Not only are its case and bracelet made of the luxurious, classy material, but the case is the typical edgy tonneau shape (38 x 41 mm) that Roth invented and that was a hallmark of his eponymous brand. Unfortunately, the auction house did not list the year of manufacture, but I can see that it was a pre-Bulgari model – perhaps just.
The 29 pieces in both of these special auction sections sold for a total of CHF 4.5 million out of the more than CHF 8 million that the sale brought altogether, a stupendous result. And leading this result were the two Vianney Halter Antiqua models, which sold for a combined total of CHF 360,000: CHF 190,000 for the white gold model and CHF 170,000 for the yellow gold variation. These two results are new world records for the sale of Vianney Halter wristwatches with the previous record being CHF 168,750 for a platinum model sold by Christie’s in May 2021.
Timepieces by F.P. Journe are experiencing their heyday, there is no doubt about that. And some of the models offered in this auction also went for excruciatingly high prices, led by the Souverain Tourbillon Ruthenium from the 12 Shades of Grey section, which sold for CHF 390,000. The Vagabondage I sold for CHF 240,000 and the Vagabondage II for CHF 225,000. The previous record for the Vagabondage II was CHF 168,750 (Sotheby’s, 2021).
Part two contained not only the bulk of the independent timepieces, but interestingly also five classic timepieces by A. Lange & Söhne: a Lange 1 Moonphase in platinum (hammer price CHF 28,000), a Lange 1 Moonphase in yellow gold (hammer price CHF 22,000), a quite recent 1815 Annual Calendar (hammer price CHF 27,000) in white gold from 2018, a pink gold second-generation Lange 1 (hammer price CHF 19,000), and a pink gold 1815 Rattrapante Perpetual Calendar (hammer price CHF 110,000).
Fans of the latest independent maker to catch collectors’ eyes, De Bethune, were surely overjoyed to find two unusual works from this maker. One was the DB10W Reedition Speciale from 2011 in white gold, which went to a new owner for CHF 50,000, while the other was a De Bethune DB10 from the same year in pink gold, which went for CHF 38,000. Both watches offer two time zones in a 42 mm case with the boutique brand’s early lug style.
The auction also included two Bulgari-era Gérald Genta Arena Chrono Quattro Retro models, one in titanium from 2010, which went for a song at CHF 6,500, and another in white gold from 2011, which found a new owner for CHF 9,000. Both of these watches only offer “Gérald Genta” on the dial as the maker (as opposed to the later disappearance of the Genta name, which was replaced by “Bulgari”). They offer four retrograde indications on the busy but beautiful dials: seconds, date, month, and power reserve.
Interesting was also the amount of Urwerk love this auction showed. Aside from a UR-103-EW in the “12 Shades of Gray” section, which hammered for CHF 42,000, there were four timepieces in the main auction’s part two on offer, each with low estimates of CHF 15,000, perhaps the rarest of which was the EMC Black (hammer price CHF 42,000). Officially introduced in 2014, Urwerk’s EMC is the first high-end mechanical watch to use sophisticated integrated electronics to monitor its own precision. A simple adjustment screw on the back allows the wearer to easily regulate the timing themselves.
EMC’s electronics require no battery and have no influence at all on the movement itself, which is 100% mechanical. Turning the fold-out crank handle powers a miniature generator, which in turn charges a super capacitor that powers the electronics and extremely high-precision reference oscillator. A timing delta indication displays how many seconds per day the movement is gaining or losing. EMC is deliberately designed to look like an instrument.
Lot 189 was the Urwerk UR-105 CT from 2018 in black titanium (CHF 32,000), a sleek futuristic timepiece with modernized wandering hours. Lot 191 was the UR-105 TA (CHF 29,000), a variation on the UR-105 with bright orange accents.
The very interesting element on these UR-105 watches is the neatly integrated sliding catch just below the massive crown where 12 o’clock would be on a normal watch. In normal use, all that can be seen on top is brightly colored Super-LumiNova highlighting the hour and minutes. A gentle push on the catch, though, and the cover pops open to allow maximum appreciation of the complex mechanisms underneath that are responsible for rotating the hour satellites through their high-precision orbits.
Lastly, there was lot 192, the Urwerk UR-110 in titanium with Urwerk’s “classic” rotating satellite time display off to the side, where it peeks out from under a cuff to show the time. It hammered for CHF 51,000.
There were also six models by Konstantin Chaykin, watches that have not yet appeared at auction very often that I can recall. Four of these timepieces on offer came from the independent Russian watchmaker’s popular Wristmon line, which began with the Joker, a watch cleverly depicting the time and moon phase displays as elements of a face.
Lot 193 was a Joker in a black PVD-coated stainless steel case, one of just 18 pieces of this limited edition, and going for CHF 22,000. Another variation on the Joker theme called Designa Individual was up for grabs here as well; also one of an 18-piece limited edition, it sold for CHF 18,000. A third Joker named Harlequin Ventuno in stainless steel, just released in June 2021 in a limited edition of 18 pieces, recalls a jester, while the “Ventuno” (Italian for “21”) in the name pays homage to the twenty-first year of the twenty-first century; it sold for CHF 18,000. A fourth Wristmon Joker in the auction, lot 196, was called Clown II and was also a recent release of 18 pieces. It was offered here on a specially crafted strap that makes the clown face look like it has red hair and is wearing a suit; it sold for CHF 20,000.
The other two Chaykin pieces in part two of this auction were some of the most recent releases of the Russian watchmaker: the Minotaur Chinese New Year 2021 Wristmon in bronze (see a full story with our hands-on experience with this one at Konstantin Chaykin Wristmon Minotaur: Ingenuity At The Center Of The Labyrinth) and the unique piece MK3 Fighter in ruthenium. This unusually shaped titanium timepiece measuring 55.82 x 48 mm displays not only our standard time here on earth on its unique ruthenium dial, but also MCT, Mars Central Time. Definitely a watch for dreamers and Elon Musk. The former sold for a fabulous CHF 31,000 while the latter went for CHF 26,000.
A seventh model, part of the clever seven-piece Mouse King edition of late 2020, was featured in the “12 Shades of Grey” section and hammered for CHF 30,000. See more about this themed model in 6 Festive Watches From 2020 Bound To Unfetter Your Wrist This Season.
Quick Facts Vianney Halter Antiqua
Case: yellow gold, white gold; 46.5 x 42.5 mm (including lugs and crown), underlying round case 36 mm
Dial: hand-engraved platinum dials (yellow case); platinum, yellow gold, and pink gold dials (white gold case)
Movement: automatic Caliber VH 198 with 35-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes; instantaneous perpetual calendar with day, date, month, and leap year cycle
Production years: 1998 to 2016
Auction result: CHF 190,000 (white gold) and CHF 170,000 (yellow gold)
Quick Facts Urwerk EMC Black
Case: 43 x 51 x 15.8 mm, black titanium
Movement: manually wound UR-EMC caliber with Swiss lever escapement, Arcap P40 balance wheel and linear balance coupled with the optical sensor and artificial intelligence
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, precision delta, power reserve (80 hours), timing adjustment screw
Auction result: CHF 42,000
Quick Facts Konstantin Chaykin Wristmon Minotaur
Case: 42 x 13 mm, iron bronze
Movement: automatic Caliber K.08-1 (based on Vaucher Caliber VMF 3002), 50-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, dual-disk weekday
Limitation: 8 pieces
Production year: 2021
Auction result: CHF 30,000
*All hammer prices mentioned excluding buyer’s premium.