Pieces from the Philips Hong Kong Watch Auction: Two – Rolexes from the Gulf and a rare Patek Phillipe

The ‘Hong Kong Watch Auction: Two’ organized by Philips will take place on 31st May 2016 at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong.

Over the last weekend, selected pieces were here in Singapore and I had the opportunity to get up close with a couple of them at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Rolex Submariner (ref. 1680) – made for the Sultanate of Oman

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This Rolex Submariner in yellow gold (circa. 1974) was part of a consignment made exclusively for the Sultanate of Oman.

Rolex has had a long history of working with the Middle-Eastern state, who had a custom of presenting timepieces to diplomatic partners and domestic citizens in recognition of exemplary contribution and achievements.

Most (or rather, all) of the custom-made Omani Rolexes were handled by Aspreys – a UK luxury retailer – through the 1970s to 80s and their rarity lies in the fact that these watches were produced in limited batches and (obviously) not available for commercial purchase.

The national symbol of Oman, the khanjar – a traditional dagger rested upon 2 crossed swords – features prominently in red print.

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What’s very rare about this particular Submariner is the placement of the symbol at 9 o’clock as most variants seen either have it centralized (and more aesthetically pleasing, if I may add) at the 6 or 12 o’clock position.

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It also sports a ‘nipple’ dial characterized by the applied rounded hour markers, which have since faded into an even off-white tone. The case and bracelet are also in excellent condition.

The estimated price for this watch is between USD 38,000 to USD 62,000 (SGD 50,920 to SGD 83,080)

Rolex GMT Master (ref. 1675) – made for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

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This yellow gold Rolex GMT Master (circa. 1974) was made for His Highness Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the current Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Links to royalty aside, the bezel (originally in black) has turned into a very light and distinctive shade of blue-brown, possibly due in part to the constant glare of a very hot sun in the UAE; and the colour is amazing.

Similar to the Omani Submariner, this GMT Master features the coat of arms of the UAE – the Quraish Hawk – in red print at 6 o’clock. It is worth noting that the red hawk was used from 1973 and discontinued in 2008 in favour of a golden one so whatever remains of the pieces out there with the old symbol are all there ever will be.

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The Sheik’s signature sits to the right of the emblem but it is the date window – displayed in Arabic-Indic script – that makes this watch even rarer.

Compared to the relatively pristine condition of the Omani Submariner, this watch has seen signs of wear (as is also evident from the aging of the bezel under the sun) but that just increases the novelty of wearing what (possibly) was worn before by the Sheik.

The estimated price for this watch is between USD 38,000 to USD 62,000 (SGD 50,920 to SGD 83,080)

Rolex Submariner(ref. 5512) – Tiffany & Co

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Yet another Rolex; this stainless steel Submariner (circa. 1967) was a piece retailed by Tiffany & Co.

While it may seem unthinkable now, Rolex actually allowed co-branding back in the days. Their partnership with Tiffany & Co started in the 50s and you could purchase Rolex watches at Tiffany & Co boutiques.

In the 90s, Rolex decided that this was not a good move from a branding standpoint (a mistake realized 40 years too late if you asked me) and decided to end it but Tiffany & Co disagreed. As a result, Rolex stopped retailing through their boutiques and the co-branded pieces became collectibles overnight.

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This particular reference 5512 is also of historical important as it was the first Submariner to come equipped with crown guards and the dial is painted with black lacquer.

Understandably, the lacquer has started cracking and the tritium on the hour markers/hands have also aged (a little unevenly); not the best looking vintage Submariner but still rare nonetheless.

The estimated price for this watch is between USD 15,000 to USD 22,000 (SGD 20,100 to SGD 29,480)

Patek Phillipe Perpetual Calendar Split Seconds Chronograph (ref. 5004P) – Eric Clapton

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Reading through the catalog for this Patek Phillipe Perpetual Calendar Split Seconds Chronograph (circa. 2009) in platinum, it says that ‘this watch was consigned by a very important collector.’

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, this watch is the property of Eric Clapton, the legendary Blues singer from England and this particular piece was customized specially for the English star.

While the ref. 5004 series is not vintage, it had a very limited production. Patek Phillipe has publicly acknowledged how difficult it was to make one, resulting in only 12 pieces made per year; fitting a perpetual calendar together with a split seconds chronograph is high horology work.

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The layout and symmetry of the dial are perfectly well balanced – a hallmark of perpetual calendars from Patek Phillipe – and the split seconds hands in ice white play out extremely well against the dark blue dial.

Most notably, this is the only piece with a solitary Breguet Arabic numeral at 12 o’clock.

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Flipping over, the manual winding Calibre CHR27-70Q can be seen through a clear caseback and its intricacies are a sight to behold.

With a production run of a short 15 years, the ref. 5004 is a hard-to-get horological marvel  – Eric Clapton or not – and could very well be the grail watch of the countless collectors who wished they had more money (self included).

I am not too sure about the previous 3 watches but this Patek Phillipe will definitely be sold.

The estimated price for this watch is between USD 35,0000 to USD 500,000 (SGD 469,000 to SGD 670,000)

Check back soon post 31st May for an update on how much these pieces eventually go for under the hammer.

 

 

 

 

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