On January 24th, Antiquorum is holding its first auction this year in the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. Their catalog shows an eclectic array of watches that will go under the hammer, representing not only over a century of history in watchmaking but also many different styles and complications. At Troisanneaux, our main focus is that of gentleman watches, of which we found quite a few.
The Breguet Type XX is what I like to refer to as a ‘gentleman’s sports watch.’ It is not a bold and blunt instrument but also has a sense of elegance to it. Credit for this goes to its modest diameter of 39.5mm, as well as the fluted case band. While I am a big fan of the regular black dial version, preferably on a chestnut brown alligator strap with off-white stitching, is the blue dial version as offered here something special. It was created as a limited edition for the Japanese market in 1998 with a run of 2,000 pieces. While this is still a generous number, the Ref.3807 doesn’t come around all too often, as apparently many collectors hang on to theirs. The blue dial shows an incredible play of light, giving the color a vibrant character, making it so different from its black dial sibling.
Piaget is, in my opinion, still a gravely underappreciated brand, in particular their vintage models. This stunning Rectangle a l’Ancienne has a very elegant and refined appearance, with its smooth case and functional dial layout. The hideous blue strap needs immediate replacement, as this watch has to be appreciated on an alligator leather strap in a darker color. It is powered by caliber 9P2, the second generation of a manual-wind movement that was the thinnest in the world for quite some time. All combined does this make for a formidable watch, easily on par with dress watches from other great Swiss brands, yet at only a fraction of the price.
An early Santos Dumont in platinum always gets my blood pumping. Its ‘Panthere-like’ elegance is so different from the more masculine Santos models from the modern age. Unlike many of the Tank-models, it has a distinctly different look and feel than its successors. The understated yet precious nature in this particular watch is underscored by the crown and folding clasp made from yellow gold. It offers a contrast that makes this unique watch even more irresistible. While its size is small compared to current trends, its appearance on the wrist is distinctly masculine, although the future owner of this Santos Dumont will most likely turn it into a safe-queen, as its value is on the rise.
Antiquorum is also offering an early Santos Dumont in yellow gold. Just changing the material of the case, compared to the Santos Dumont previously mentioned, gives the watch a completely different character. The Santos Dumont becomes more classic in its appearance, like a dress watch it essentially never was (in the 1920s, the pocket watch still ruled supreme, and anything on the wrist was considered quite sporty). This dial is signed with the letters’ Bte S.G.D.G,’ which is the abbreviation for “Breveté Sans Garantie Du Gouvernement. “This was the French government’s way of saying that a product contained certain patented novelties, yet that the correct functioning of them was not guaranteed by the patent granted. This most likely attracted more clients than it scared away, as it also became a seal of some sort showing that you were wearing the latest technology. It might be funny to think now like that of the Santos Dumont, but if there ever was a trailblazer in watchmaking, this is it.
The Tonneau is so often designated as a ladies’ watch why this is not the case at all. Launched in 1906, it was especially for its time a rather large, if not oversized, watch. Due to this, it was when launched a choice for dandies and gentlemen looking for something different. While the tonneau case is now a relatively common shape in watchmaking, Cartier was among the first to use it. Due to the curve of its case, it was and still is very comfortable to wear. This early example has just the right amount of patina to give it that vintage look without making it look so battered that it takes away from its elegance. Don’t be alarmed by the relatively narrow leather strap; once on the wrist, it oozes masculinity because of it.
I have always been a sucker for a pink gold case with a black dial. Unlike yellow gold is the contrast not so harsh with pink gold. The two colors seem to reach more of a synergy as it becomes especially clear in the ref.5026R from Patek Philippe. The clean look of the Calatrava case serves as the perfect frame of the black dial. It also tones down the vintage vibe of the applied Breguet style numerals and matching Breguet style hands, to give the watch a look that makes it hard to place in time. That is the secret power of this reference, as it represents a style that will never go out of fashion. Don’t underestimate the role that the sub-seconds play in this as well. By placing it at five o’clock, instead of the traditional six o’clock position, symmetry is out the window. This gives the 5026R an understated yet still distinctly rebellious twist, for a dress watch, which makes it all the more appealing.
Patek Philippe has made the Calatrava in many different flavours, yet some don’t surface all too often. That is most certainly the case with the ref.5022J featuring a gold, guilloche dial with bold Roman numerals. The result is a watch that is very rich in appearance. While some might consider it too much, especially compared to its sibling ref.5022R with its white enamel dial and printed Arabic numerals, do I view this watch as a good dessert; a sumptuous sweet delicacy that is just a bit different than most other Calatrava’s. It also gives the watch a more powerful appearance, with the additional benefit of making it wear larger than it’s 33mm diameter would indicate. The applied Roman numerals make the watch age gracefully, as it is almost 25 years old, yet the watch still has a timeless appearance. For those looking for a Patek Philippe that brings something different to the table, this might be just what they are looking for.
At Troisanneaux, we have a soft spot for Breguet in general, and the Ref.7337 especially. While it is a very classic watch, it has a rather unconventional dial layout, making it very irresistible. This reference is based on the Breguet pocketwatch No.3833, which was sold in 1823 to Thomas Hawley. The dial showing the hours and minutes do not cover the entire space inside the case. This leaves room above them for three windows showing the day, date, and moon phase. As with the Patek Philippe Calatrava 5026R did also Breguet place the subdial for the seconds not in the middle, which gives this Breguet a slightly exotic touch. By placing all the complications in this way on the dial, the ref.7337 gets a lot of character that, combined with hallmark Breguet features such as the fluted case band and guilloche dial, make for one incredible watch.
The Monaco auction of Antiquorum will be held on January 24th, at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. For the complete catalog click here