Antiquorum's Guido Mondani Rolex sale proved as spectacular as expected, setting 15 new records over the course of two sessions in Geneva, including .the highest price ever paid for a Rolex at auction. While new standards for Rolex collecting have undoubtedly been set by this sale, we must wait to see whether the watches' appearance in Osvaldo Patrizzi's Collecting Rolex Wristwatches added value-altering cachet. We also report on the first of Christie"s and Sotheby's spring sales, where some refreshingly non-Rolex curiosities were to be found. Gooney Tunes cartoon voice talent Me! Blanc's 65 mm Lange & Söhne pilot's watch makes I WCs equivalent look tiny; while Patek's Naviquartz chronometer casts an altogether different light on the brand.
Simon de Burton
Antiquorum: 1 st April / 13th May, Geneva
The much-publicised sale of Guido Mondani's collection of Rolex watches was always destined to be a success, but both the vendor and the auction house must have been delighted with the overall total of SFr.11,037,278, which was approaching the upper end of expectations.
No fewer than 15 new records were set during the two sessions, by far the most significant being the SFr.738,500 paid for one of the final lots in the two-part sale - a ref. 4113 flyback chronograph. This is the most ever paid at auction for a Rolex and eclipses the previous highest price of SFr.465,600 achieved at Christie's in 2004 for a pink-gold ref. 6062 triple-calendar model.
The new record can be accounted for by the rarity of the watch (just 12 examples were made in 1942), the simple fact that the flyback is the most sought-after of Rolex complications and that the watch was in fine condition throughout. I also believe that its fashionably large size added considerably to its appeal: based on a 16"' pocket watch ébauche, it measured a handsome 44 mm in diameter.
Antiquorum's next best price was SFr.469,700 for a 1953 tripledate Oyster with moonphase. This was a real 'eyeful' as they say in the motor trade, thanks to its black dial, yellow-gold case and bracelet and diamond indexes; a combination known in only one other example.
The highest bid at the Mondani auction was for this ref. 4113 antimagnetic rattrapante, made for a limited series of 12 examples in 1942 -sold for SFr.738,500, way over its high estimate of SFr.400,000.
Ref. 6062 yellow-gold 'Black Diamond Dial' Rolex made in 1953 - second-biggest seller at SFr.469,700. This reference was produced with the 'Super Oyster winding crown - an attempt by Rolex to create a waterproof winding crown that did not need to be screwed down. The system itself worked, but. in time, the rubber seal perished and this crown type was phased out after only a few years.
A ref. 3525 'medical chronograph' sold for SFr.368,900 at the Mandan! sale - one of the first Oyster Chronograph references.
So-called 'Jean-Claude Killy' ref. 6036 made in 1951, almost 10 years before Killy actually won the world skiing championship. Produced in few examples from 1948 to 1955 in yellow- or pink-gold and very few in stainless steel.
Sold for SFr.267,500.
'The Spirit of Fire' by Patek Philippe is a minute-repeating, keyless pocket watch set with 735 diamonds (13.30 ct) and 112 rubies (7.28 ct) with perpetual calendar, 24-hour indication and moonphase. Accompanied by a display stand set with 515 diamonds (6.37 ct) and 39 rubies (2.68 ct).
Sold for HK$1,053.000 at Antiquorum, Hong Kong was a Breguet ref, 1189G, a ref. 2123D and a ref, 935G, made ca 2000 as a set of three, comprising a pink-gold wristwatch with jumping hours, a platinum chronograph, and a yellow-gold minute repeater with 24-hour indication.