Ineichen is hosting an auction dedicated to sporty and elegant timepieces. This theme is undoubtedly interesting for both the collector and the buyer looking for a watch that stands out for its design and for a strong brand image. What prompted us to pay special attention to this is not only its wonderful history, which began in the 1970s with the introduction of such iconic designs as the Royal Oak, the Nautilus, the '222' and the Laureato, but also the recent boom of iconic sporty and elegant wristwtches and their successors that we witnessed during the Covid period. After that, the market has experienced a correction, which we believe is healthy. Yes, some market participants invested in stocks in anticipation of further price increases and are probably struggling now. They have taken risks, and the possibility of losses and difficulties is one of the risk factors. However, it should be recognized that this wave of correction has brought more positives to the watch market as a whole, as it has raised community awareness and attracted new passionate participants. For example, the information wave has resulted in the name of Gérald Genta, both the person and the brand he founded, becoming more widely known. Indirect evidence of this is the reintroduction of the independent brand Gérald Genta by the Bulgari Group and the noticeable increase in the activities of the brand Gérald Charles, founded by the late Gérald Genta. We are waiting with interest for the appearance of watches of this brand on the auction market.
We want to support the segment of sporty-elegant timepieces, which we believe is not only promising from a business point of view, but also attractive as a cultural phenomenon. It is very pleasant to work with such watches, find interesting stories, rare and valuable examples and share this information with watch connoisseurs. Therefore, on Sport & Elegance Auction we present a selection of 20 excellent examples of this genre.
The auction starts with the ever-popular Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1R-001 (Lot 01) with a beautiful brown ‘chocolate’ gradient dial. The reference 5711 is one of the central designs in the history of luxury sports watches. First, as the direct successor to the Nautilus 3700/1, an icon of the genre that was launched in 1976 and has since occupied an important place in the brand's lineup, along with its successor 5711 and the 5811 that followed it. Secondly, as the model that caused the most stir during the wave of rising prices on the secondary market. It is known that of the 5711, introduced in 2006 and discontinued in 2021 after the presentation of the last version 5711 ‘Tiffany Blue’, the steel model with steel bracelet is the most popular. The steel reference was joined in 2015 by a rare version of the 5711 in rose gold on a bracelet, reference 5711/1R-001, the production of which we estimate at no more than a third of the steel reference. For the sake of completeness, we should mention that there are also extremely rare bracelet versions in platinum, both from the regular collection and from the Nautilus 40th Anniversary Limited Edition. The release of the reference 5711/1R-001 in rose gold with bracelet should be divided into two generations: the first generation with the caliber 324 SC, and the second generation with the caliber 26-330 SC, which replaced the 324 SC in 2019. This lot, sold to the original owner in 2018, is interesting as one of the late Ref. 5711/1R-001 of the first generation.
The sporty character of the other two Patek Philippe models in the auction is determined by the remarkable combination of rose gold, diamond bezel and very dark - black or dark brown - dial. Let's first take a look at the most likely winner of this auction, the Patek Philippe Grand Complications Celestial Ref. 6104R-001 (Lot 19). This watch is a pointer date version of the original reference 5102, which was introduced in 2002 and discontinued about 10 years later. In 2002, this watch was introduced as a simplified version of the famous Sky Moon Tourbillon Ref. 5002. Both are the implementation of the main astronomical function of the Star Caliber 2000 pocket watches, introduced at the beginning of the third millennium, into wristwatches. On the back of the Star Caliber 2000 was a star chart with integrated orbit and moon phase, a complication also found on the back of the Sky Moon Tourbillon. On the Celestial, this is the main complication on a dial. In 2009, Patek Philippe created the Celestial Ref. 5106 a one-off piece for the charity auction Only Watch, in which the date pointer appeared. This feature was then used in the regular Ref. 6102, which was launched in 2010 or 2011, although a 2012 launch is often reported (e.g. Phillips). However, watch from earlier times is also known. For example, Antiquorum sold the baguette diamond-set Ref. 6104R-001 with proof of sale in 2011. The present Celestial Ref. 6104R-001, the baguette diamond-set version of Ref. 6102, which received a black monochrome dial, very rarely appears on the market, and each time it is an important event. An interesting design feature of Ref. 6102 and Ref. 6104 gives this watch a sporty touch. This is because the design of the case and lugs of these references is similar to that of the famous Patek Philippe wrist chronograph Ref. 5070, which in turn was inspired by the unique large 46mm split-seconds chronograph Ref. 2512 from 1950, whose military-style dial is influenced by large pilot watches.
Patek Philippe Calatrava Travel Time Ref. 4934R-001 (Lot 07) is the only ladies watch in this auction. It is an unusual, very attractive combination of the classic Calatrava design, a glamorous rose gold execution with diamond-set bezel and a dark brown guilloché dial, and a GMT complication with an additional 'hidden' hour hand, a notable feature of Patek Philippe's GMT watches, and a 24-hour day/night indicator. There are also two buttons for switching the hour hand, which makes this watch very handy when the watch’s owner is in a different time zone. Patek Philippe introduced the reference 4934 with models in rose gold (like this one) and white gold (Ref. 4934G-001) to replace the reference 4834 in 2007. The reference 4934 remained in production until 2012.
Continuing our review, we return to the classics of the luxury sports watch genre, namely the progenitor of this genre, the legendary Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet. Royal Oak Jubilee Ref. 14802ST.OO.0944ST.01 Mk2 No. 0749 (Lot 03) is part of the limited anniversary edition released in 1992 by the brand to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Royal Oak. According to Apchronicles, this edition included 691 pieces in steel, while the total circulation was about 1,000 pieces. In addition to the main models in steel, yellow gold and platinum, the reference is characterized by numerous variants of execution, which captivate collectors. Specifically for the period of release of the Ref. 14802 the change of logo on the dial markers, which took place in 1993. As a result, the early examples of Ref. 14802, referred to as ‘Mark 1’ (Mk1), are marked with a small Type1 logo and an applied "AP" monogram at 12 o’clock. From 1993, the dials received a new design with a larger (modern) logo and the “AP” continuing at 12 o'clock - this version is called 'Mark 2' (Mk2). It should be noted that Ref. 14802 is the first Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ with a display caseback. Thanks to this feature, the owner of the watch could see for the first time the ultra-thin self-winding caliber 2121 together with its rotor in a special skeletonized anniversary version. The dial design of Ref. 14802 shares the same codes as the original Royal Oak "Jumbo" Ref. 5402 from 1972, but with some significant changes, including the “AP” logo at the 12 o'clock position instead of the characteristic double baguette index of Ref. 5402.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Open-worked Ref. 25829ST.00.0944ST.01 is marked with No. 433 and case number E-94922, which roughly corresponds to production years 2000–2005. Audemars Piguet launched this reference in the mid-1990s, probably in 1996 or 1997, to replace the previous Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar reference 25636 with its characteristic open-worked dial. The 25829 differs from the 25636 models by having a leap year indicator realized as an additional small hand on the month counter at 12 o’clock. The Phillips auction house stated that 371 pieces of the reference 25829 were made in stainless steel between 1996 and 2013, powered by the ultra-thin caliber 2120/2802. The thinness of the movement made it possible to produce remarkably thin and elegant watches, which is particularly important given the complex function of the perpetual calendar itself. With a thickness of 3.95 mm, it remained the thinnest perpetual calendar movement with a central rotor of an automatic winding system until 2018. The characteristic feature of the design of reference 25829 is the transparent dial, through which you can see the details of the complex mechanism of the perpetual calendar with fine haute horlogerie finishing of all parts. Particularly interesting are the leaf-shaped hour and minute hands in blackened gold, which are extremely rare to find on dials of Royal Oak men's models.
Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Steel & Platinum Ref. 25820SP.OO.0944SP.03 from 2004 is a rare version of the reference 25820 in stainless steel with a platinum bezel and the small platinum links of a steel bracelet, that ran from 1995 to about 2013. We can distinguish the Ref. 25820SP from the all-steel 25820ST by both a polished platinum bezel - on the steel models, the steel bezel received a vertical straight grinding finish, and a special dial design that was only available on the steel and platinum models. Instead of the standard dotted minute and baguette hour markers of the Royal Oak, the Ref. 25820SP features a railroad-style outer minute scale with integrated rectangular applied metal hour markers. The introduction of this reference was associated with the modernization of the ultra-thin automatic caliber 2120/2800, which received a previously missing leap year indicator. The updated caliber was designated as 2120/2802. Phillips informs about the release of a total of 1235 pieces of reference 25820, including 628 pieces in steel, 107 pieces in yellow gold, 74 pieces in platinum, 11 pieces in rose gold, 378 pieces in steel and platinum like the present watch, 15 pieces in tantalum and yellow gold, 9 pieces in tantalum and platinum, and 13 pieces in tantalum and rose gold. We would like to point out that most of the 378 examples of the 25820SP had a black tapisserie dial, while the production of watches with a white silvered tapisserie dial was much smaller and only a few examples appeared on the market. Therefore, we consider the offering of this Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Steel & Platinum Ref. 25820SP.OO.0944SP.03 at the Sport & Elegance auction as an extremely valuable opportunity for a collector to acquire a very rare version of a Royal Oak model with a classic complication.
In 1993, 21 years after the launch of the Royal Oak collection, Audemars Piguet complemented it with its first major commercially successful design variant, which gave the watch a much sportier character. For the first three years of its existence, the Royal Oak Offshore line consisted only of chronographs, and it wasn't until 1996 that the collection received another complication. The Royal Oak Offshore Complete Calendar 25807ST.O.1010ST.01 (Lot 04) is the first model of this kind. It has a classic triple calendar complication with the month and day of the week in the apertures and a central date hand. At the same time, it was the first medium-sized Royal Oak Offshore with a case diameter of 38 mm. According to Apchronicles, Audemars Piguet's official source for vintage watches, both reference 25807 (bracelet version) and its sister, reference 25808 (leather strap version), were produced until 2006 and a total of 1,116 watches were sold in stainless steel, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold and blackened steel, making the present watch a very rare. Interestingly, since its launch, the Royal Oak Offshore Complete Calendar has been endorsed by Italian ski champion Alberto Tomba, who was one of the first ambassadors of the Royal Oak Offshore collection.
Royal Oak Offshore Chronographs are featured at the Sport & Elegance Auction with three appealing references.
Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph Ref. 25770BA.O.0009.01 (Lot 09) is the first Royal Oak Offshore to appear on a leather strap in 1996, while the first sketches of an Offshore on a leather strap were designed long before that by Emmanuel Gueit – as Apchronicles reports, in November 1991. It is this reference that was offered with the unusual blue spotted sharkskin strap; please note this lot is offered with the original strap. According to Apchronicles, the Ref. 25770 remained in the Audemars Piguet catalog from 1996 to 2004, although some examples were marketed until 2016, with total production amounting to 3,033 watches. Of these Ref. 25770BA in yellow gold, only 95 watches were produced, sold mainly from 1996 to 1999. Among them were models with two types of dials: yellow gold-colored, like this specimen, and blue with a matching leather strap. This shows the extreme rarity and attractiveness of this lot.
Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph ‘Jarno Trulli’ Ref. 26202AU.OO.D002CA.01 (Lot 17) is one of the charismatic Royal Oak Offshore limited edition dedicated to Formula 1. This edition of 500 pieces was released in 2010 as a collaboration between Audemars Piguet and Italian Formula 1 racer Jarno Trulli. The design of the watch is emphatically high-tech: the case ring is made of carbon fiber, the caseback, chronograph buttons and crown are made of titanium, and the bezel is made of metal-ceramic. The dark grey dial with silvered counters has contrasting red accents that encompass the hour markers, hour, minute and central seconds hands. This creates a unique and recognizable style that sets the 'Jarno Trulli' apart from all other racing editions in the Royal Oak Offshore collection.
Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 'Rue St. Honoré' Ref. 26181ST.OO.D202CR.01 (Lot 08) in the colors of the French flag is a limited edition of 100 pieces released in 2007 in honor of the opening of the Audemars Piguet boutique in Paris at the intersection of Rue St. Honoré and Rue Cambon, just a stone's throw from Place Vendôme. The boutique has since closed, but the 'Rue St. Honoré' is a kind of reminder of the transience and changeability of time, as well as a monument to the modern history of Audemars Piguet and the Royal Oak Offshore collection in particular. Ultimately, this watch can now be perceived as a reminder of the sights of the French capital. Besides, this model has a lot of charisma that makes it a worthy part of a watch collection.
One of the main players in the luxury sports watch segment is Girard-Perregaux, which in 1975 was one of the first to develop its own version of a style, the signature Laureato design. Since then, this collection has undergone several revisions, in particular the Laureato Evo3 Moonphase Ref. 80185-11-631-11A (Lot 14) is the third update (evolution) and thus the fourth generation of the Laureato, launched in 2003. If we consider this watch in the context of its time, it is best to compare the introduction of the Laureato Evo3 with the introduction of Audemars Piguet's Royal Oak Offshore collection. The Laureato Evo3 differs from the previous third-generation Laureato models launched in 1995 by its large 44mm case, offered mostly in stainless steel, and its striking, bold and sporty design. This watch is one of the most charismatic Laureato Evo3, as it features a rare set of complications for watches of this genre, such as an in-house big date, a moon phase and a power reserve indicators.
Vacheron Constantin, another important player in the luxury sports watch race, which launched its ‘222’ line in 1977, is represented at the Sport & Elegance Auction by the Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar Ref. 4300V/120G-B102 (Lot 02), which was sold to the original owner in 2016. As far as the genre of luxury sports watches is concerned, the modern Overseas is a continuation of the '222' design, although it must be admitted that in this case there is no end-to-end continuity as with the Royal Oak and the Nautilus. Nevertheless, Vacheron Constantin makes excellent watches in this genre, and one of the most impressive designs is certainly the ultra-thin perpetual calendar. Any perpetual calendar wristwatch from Vacheron Constantin is a feast for the eyes, and the thin case of the Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar gives an incomparable feeling of elegance. This feeling is enhanced by the fact that the case and bracelet are made of white gold.
Bulgari is the newcomer to the luxury sports watch market, and the brand's strong presence in this segment has been made possible by the strong development of ultra-thin caliber technology. One of Bulgari’s ultra-thin calibers, the self-winding mini-rotor BVL 138, which is only 2.23 mm thick (one of the thinnest automatic calibers currently available), is the basis for the ultra-thin Octo Finissimo Automatic line (case thickness of only 5.15 mm) launched in 2017. The very next year, the Octo Finissimo 'Middle East' Edition Ref. 103023 (Lot 13), one of the rare cases where Bulgari uses a special regional dial design, was introduced. It is made of sandblasted textured titanium with a grey dial and sparse green hour markers shaped as the traditional "Arabic" numerals (in quotation marks, as the term "Arabic" traditionally implies ordinary numerals). This design is exclusive to Bulgari boutiques, so production is naturally limited and very rare to find on the secondary market, making it very special.
The colorful and spectacular Alain Silberstein Tourbillon Volant Limited Edition Ref. TOURB VOLANT (Lot 18) is part of a limited edition of 500 pieces that we believe was never completed. The brand, founded by designer Alain Silberstein, unfortunately went bankrupt in 2012. Brand’s legacy is worth taking a closer look at. The Tourbillon Volant Edition, Alain Silberstein's version of the ‘people's tourbillon’ built on the basis of Progress Watch's affordable tourbillon caliber in the inimitable style of Alain Silberstein, is one of the most impressive pages in the history of this brand.
The vintage Breitling Navitimer Cosmonaute Chronograph Ref. 809 (Lot 11) with the obligatory 24-hour dial brings us back to the debate about the role of different brands in the space watch race. Breitling registered the name “Cosmonaute” for this reference in 1961 and modified the Navitimer with a 24-hour dial. The Ref. 809 was produced by Breitling in the early to mid-1960s with numerous dial configurations, bezel combinations, logos and metals, and all were powered by the Venus 178 hand-wound chronograph movement, which is extremely attractive to the discerning collector. Breitling watch connoisseurs will also be interested in the Co-Pilot Chronograph Ref. 7650 Mk3 'Yachting' (Lot 12). Produced since 1969, the reference 7650 Mk3 is one of the most eye-catching designs among Breitling chronographs and represents the chronograph style of the late 1960s and early 1970s very well.
Breguet is known as one of the trendsetters in the development of aviation chronographs in the 1950s. Four decades later, the brand relaunched its famous flyback chronographs with self-winding calibers. Stainless steel Type XX Aeronavale Chronograph Ref. 3807ST/J2/SW9 (Lot 10) is one of the correct vintage editions, because unlike the later Type XXI, it has no date display. This small detail makes the difference, as well as the very attractive electric blue dial. The total production of Ref. 3807 is about 1,500 pieces in steel with polished bezel and bracelet, and it was launched around 1998. Besides the shiny electric blue dial, this reference has a very important feature that appears for the first time in the Type XX watch family: an exhibition caseback.
Zenith El Primero Retrotimer Chronograph Ref. 75.2030.4055 "Al Dente" (Lot 16) is a very rare bird that the knowledgeable collector will be reluctant to miss. This reference was released in 2009 or 2010 when Jean-Frederic Dufour, the current CEO of Rolex, took over the brand. Technically, the Retrotimer is a continuously running chronograph, a simplified version of the El Primero equipped with a single button that allows the chronograph to restart timekeeping. There is a remarkable story associated with this watch. It makes a watch that has been out of production for a long time an interesting collector's item. If you look closely at the dial, you will notice that there is a red 8-minute mark on the minute counter, while all the others are white. It looks like a joke, but from an interview with Dufour we know that it was he who initiated this almost unnoticed feature, as he is a fan of Italian cuisine and 8 minutes is the time for cooking al dente pasta.
Another unusual watch that will undoubtedly attract collectors is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Compressor Diving Pro Geographic "Russian Eagle" Limited Edition (Lot 20) concept watch. Launched in 2008, the Diving Pro Geographic is Jaeger-LeCoultre's extreme sports watch from the now discontinued Compressor collection. Water resistant to 300 meters, the watch features a fully mechanical depth gage to 80 meters and the Jaeger-LeCoultre’s signature world time complication with city and 24-hour displays. The spectacular and technical Compressor collection, an extreme expression of sporty style as interpreted by Jaeger-LeCoultre, is in our opinion an interesting subject for collecting, and a rare limited-edition model will undoubtedly adorn such a collection.
We end our report on the Sport & Elegance Auction with the magnificent Ulysse Nardin Marine Aqua Perpetual Ref. 333-55 No. 440 (lot 15). This is an extremely rare representative of the diving perpetual calendars. It should also be remembered that the caliber UN -33 of this watch is the original version of the groundbreaking perpetual calendar developed for Ulysse Nardin in 1996 by Ludwig Oechslin, the famous inventor and researcher. The special feature of this invention is a perpetual calendar mechanism that can be corrected both forward and backward, while the traditional perpetual calendar allows this only forward. At this point, Ulysse Nardin has discontinued its in-house perpetual calendar watches, which will undoubtedly increase their appeal on the secondary market.