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Lot 187: Erotic watchesAntiquorum

Important Collection of erotic watches achieving 719,200 CHFAntiquorum's March auction: An outstanding total of CHF 6,457,937

Antiquorum's March auction of "Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces", held at the Mandarin Oriental in Geneva on Sunday, March 27, closed with the outstanding result of CHF 6,457,937. Of the 564 timepieces offered, a remarkable 83 % was sold, representing 138.5% by value. The auction enjoyed strong Internet bidding in addition to the many telephone and commission bidders. International participation came from Japan, the Netherlands, China, Hong Kong, Turkey and the Russian Federation.

Julien Schaerer, Managing Director and Auctioneer, noted: "The ever-growing strength of Asian bidders, due to their growing knowledge and discernment, is remarkable. While the effects are felt in the tremendous interest shown for enamel pocket watches, they also extend to the appreciation of vintage wristwatches and complicated Patek Philippe wristwatches."

The highlight of the sale was undoubtedly the unique collection of 33 erotic watches and animated objects belonging to a Swiss collector, which attracted great interest, particularly on the part of collectors from Asia, Turkey and the Russian Federation. After an intense session of fierce bidding, the collection totaled an exceptional CHF 719,200 CHF, twice the high estimate. Pieces obtaining notable results include "Musique d'Amour" by Henry Capt (lot 187), a repeating musical watch with concealed erotic automaton which sold for CHF 200,500; a watch by John Bittleston with a concealed erotic scene (lot 174) which was acquired for an incredible CHF 67,300 - over 7 times the high estimate - while lot 173, a quarter-repeating watch with three concealed erotic scenes reached CHF 64,900, more than 10 times the high estimate. The watch with concealed erotic scene by Girardier l'Aîné (lot 170) also achieved the noteworthy result of CHF 16,250 and lot 171, "The Priest's Surprise", a Swiss-made pocket watch made circa 1810, sold for CHF 20,000.

Etienne Leménager, Director and watch expert, remarked: "We expected good results for the erotic collection, but nothing as extraordinary as this. Many of the watches in the collection were bought at Antiquorum over the past 15 years, and a number of them sold for 3 or 4 times their estimate, if not more."

The other highlight of the auction was the Rolex "Oyster Perpetual" Ref. 6284 (lot 527), an extremely rare 14k yellow gold wristwatch whose cloisonné enamel dial by Marguerite Koch represents the two Americas. Estimated at CHF 130,000 - 190,000, this beautiful timepiece obtained an astounding CHF 662,500, a world record for a time-only Rolex wristwatch as well as a record for a Rolex cloisonné enamel dial timepiece.

According to Etienne Leménager: "Black-background enamel dials are always sought after due to the technical difficulty of achieving a beautiful rich black, so we knew there would be great interest in this watch. However, the price realized - over 3 times the high estimate - represents a new world record."

Other Rolex watches also did very well, including the Rolex stainless steel Ref. 6062 "Black Moon" (lot 526), which sold for an impressive CHF 70,900 and the "Paul Newman" Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, Ref. 6259 (lot 525), which was hammered down at CHF 69,700. Patek Philippe timepieces continued to command high prices: the Ref. 3939 HP (lot 564), in platinum with enamel dial sold for CHF 428,500; the Ref. 2514/1 (lot 543), a minute-repeating wristwatch retailed by Gübelin Lucerne, achieved CHF 374,500; and the Ref. 3970E in platinum (lot 563) went for CHF 115,300. A group of 20 fine clocks belonging to a French collector also excited great interest, bringing a total of CHF 201,625 - two and a half times the low estimate of 76,300 - with several of the pieces obtaining outstanding results. Lot 281, an L. Leroy & Cie carriage clock with signed & dated Limoges enamel panels by Claudius Popelin, sold for CHF 55,000; and lot 266, a very rare late 20th century L'Epée gilt brass and champlevé enamel carriage clock with one-minute tourbillon regulator sold for CHF 20,000.

With Asian market interest for exceptional decorative and automaton pocket watches continuing to grow, Asian collectors competed fiercely for many pieces in the sale. "The Knife Grinder" by Esquivillon et Deschoudens  (lot 434), a quarter-repeating pocket watch with varicolored gold striking Jacks and an additional automaton scene depicting a knife grinder's workshop, sold for CHF 104,500, while the unique single-hand Vacheron & Constantin Ref. 4582 (lot 338), a 20k yellow gold keyless dress watch with champlevé enamel and diamond-set dial, attained an incredible CHF 68,500.

The exquisite Faberge Musical Egg Clock, a table clock in the Faberge tradition by workmaster Victor Mayer (lot 436) sold for CHF 98,500. The guilloché and opalescent enameled egg whose dome is carved from a single piece of transparent rock crystal, is lavishly set with 492 diamonds and 8 blue sapphires; it plays Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune".

Antiquorum's next auction will be on Sunday May 15th in Geneva.