Highlighting some of the timepieces on offer when Watches of Knightsbridge holds an auction has become somewhat of a staple feature here at BEXSONN and this one is no different. Though there is one difference; this auction will be held in Dubai, instead of the usual London location. Due to the success of last year’s inaugural Dubai auction, Watches of Knightsbridge will once again hold a January auction in the UAE state of Dubai and it will be interesting to see how this one fairs.
Lot 26: First up, is a chronograph brand that is currently hot on everyone’s lips, thanks to a certain Frenchman at a certain American watch journal (Louis Westphalen at Hodinkee I’m looking at you). In my opinion, Lip is a brand that made some cool and funky chronographs but there were also a lot of other brands doing the same, begging the question of why this brand outperforms others?
Powered by a stock standard workhorse Valjoux 7733 it is a quintessentially stylised chronograph from the 70s. In this instance, I do understand what collectors are clamouring over – the unique dial. This Lip dial is very funky, with a tricolour layout of blue, red and yellow blending together. Somehow though, in its traditional 37mm case shape and plain stick hands, it strikes a good balance and remains restrained in my eyes, despite the strong primary colours used.
I picked this example mainly because of the condition. As they say in this game, one of the pillars of vintage watch buying is indeed condition, with this Lip being in new old stock condition. Even the sticky stuff they used to put on case backs to protect it scratching is still there.
BLANCPAIN FIFTY FATHOMS
Lot 47: Born out of the product of passion, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, as many of you may or may not know, is the original divers watch. Named the “Fifty Fathoms” after the British measurement of 50 fathoms, which was then considered the maximum depth a diver could make, with the oxygen mixture used during those days. Released before the Seamaster and Submariner, it is perhaps this reason that Blancpain today are so revered. This example is known as the large size, civilian model, though there have been some that do share some military significance.
This particular examples 41mm case, appears to be in excellent condition, with small signs of wear and a rotating bezel in similar condition. Being a mid-sixties piece, this model displays the very cool “no radiation” symbol at 6 o’clock adhering to the luminous markers, which have patinated to a warm yellowish-orange. It is powered by a 17-jewel automatic, Blancpain Rayville SA, calibre R.310 movement. While this piece is perhaps not as sought-after as the earlier 1950s Fifty Fathoms, it is still just as important.
CYMA CLAMSHELL WATERSPORT
Lot 63: While the last chronograph lot highlighted remains an oddity in terms of how popular it is, this lot leaves no question – this is a truly stunning watch. I can say that as good as our photography is over here at Bexsonn, it does not do the watch justice.
There is a recurring trend as to what the most popular chronographs are today. Multi scale glossy black gilt dial, check. Large 38mm stainless steel clamshell case with round pump pushers, check. All this, and more. Looking at the gilt dial, it is in stunning condition and glossy as ever. While it is relatively easy to find black gilt dial chronographs in the market, this particular one has so much more going for it. A closer inspection shows a white outer tachymeter track that gives a great contrast to the watch, and the text itself is green! The other scale on this Cyma clamshell, is the pulsations scale that is in silver text, adding further depth while the minute markers and telemeter snail scale is in gilt.
Topping it off, this Cyma is powered by the high-quality column wheel, Valjoux 22. Overall, the condition, quality and rarity of this watch makes it my favourite piece in the auction and while the estimate is high, when are you going to find another, let alone in this condition.
ENICAR SHERPA GRAPH
Lot 78: is an interesting one. All of you are for sure no stranger to Enicar Sherpa Graphs. Great sporting chronograph in a large 40mm size, they are always popular and likeable. That said, over the last few months, I’ve noticed a softening for these pieces, a slight plateau in my opinion perhaps triggered by quite a few pieces appearing on the market.
It is impossible to predict which way the market may go, and as watch collectors and lovers, this shouldn’t matter too much as at the end of the day, Enicars are still great quality watches. This example features a rarer all black dial which I much prefer to the more common reverse panda style. Again, the condition looks to be excellent with the luminous material thick and intact, overall flawless dial and a strong case with caseback markings still visible.
HEUER MONACO REF. 1133B
Lot 85: The Heuer Monaco Ref 1133 is a fairly mature market in terms of vintage Heuer and when it comes to the Monaco there can only be one- Steve Mcqueen’s Monaco, the Ref. 1133B. Sure there are prototype dials and other rarer variants, but for the iconic one, it has to be this.
The condition of this Monaco is excellent, with a few tell-tale signs to distinguish an honest 1133B. Firstly, the dial is great, with the familiar bold blue showing no sign of tarnishing and all lume plots present. The case, often in poor condition, is perhaps closer to how it would have left the factory. On the front, the distinctive vertical brushing is still evident and at the back of the case, the starburst brushing and Heuer ‘Tool No. 033’ is still clear. The pushers are correct and the crown is signed, rounding off what is a great example of a 1133B Monaco.
HEUER CARRERA 2447 SN & CLEBAR SN V 72
Much has been said about what Jack Heuer achieved with the Carrera. That despite its simplicity manage to communicate so much in the form of style, modern design and legibility. The fact that this watch could look like it was made in 2017, is a testament to the timeless design Heuer was coming up with back then.
While this applies to all 2447 Carreras, the SN, or panda dial version elevates these notions. Not only that, but the SN is one of the rarest Carreras out there, so what you get is the best looking and rarest Carrera in one watch.
Can’t afford it? With an estimate in the 20-thousand-pound range, it is safe to say that this will remain inaccessible to most, but for those of you who love the great design, may I present Lot 89: A Clebar chronograph often dubbed as the ‘Poor Man’s Heuer’.
Styled very similarly with a slight variation in case, the similarities to the previously mentioned 2447 SN is uncanny, even down to the movement. They are both powered by a Valjoux 72 and with an estimate at a fraction of the price of the Heuer, it provides great value.
Don’t let the ‘Poor Man’s Heuer’ moniker fool you though, these panda versions, made under the Clebar and Zodiac name are not too common, especially those powered by the Valjoux 72.
OMEGA SEAMASTER “BULLHEAD” REF 146.011
Lot 104: Lastly, we have a pretty unusual watch in Lot 104: An Omega Seamaster Bullhead. These are very rare on their own, with an estimated only 600 made, but this example with the bronze dial is even rarer, as it is reported that only 200 of the 600 made featured this dial.
Not only is this watch unusual in its production numbers, but also the way it looks. Nicknamed ‘Bullhead’ because of the crown and pushers located at the top of the case, it is a striking watch with a unique layout.
This particular example, comes with its extract from the archives and what makes it even more special, is its military provenance. The extract states that this Bullhead was delivered to the US Sixth Fleet and US Sea Transportation Service in Europe. I do wonder though whether it was used much as the condition is unbelievable. This highlight has largely centred around great condition watches, with this Omega ‘Bullhead’ no exception. The case is in great nick, with the brushing still sharp as the day it left the factory and it goes without saying, a flawless dial.
The Watches of Knightsbridge Dubai auction will take place on the 28th January 2017; make sure you visit the official website for this month’s full catalogue.