Entering not only our 10th year of operation as Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo, but also our 10th live auction in New York, our commitment to offering the highest quality timepieces has been the central focus of our international team since our founding in 2014.

The incredibly diverse selection of approximately 150 timepieces in The New York Watch Auction: X is one of which we are especially proud. Spanning wristwatches, pocket watches, and clocks from Swiss, British, German, and Japanese makers, many represent the very best of the best from the eras in which they were produced.

Our selection, dating to as early as 1880, includes some of the most impressive, important, and exquisite timepieces ever made. All are masterpieces of design and watchmaking by their respective makers, possessing the kind of timeless appeal that extends across generations.

What follows is a selection of my personal favorites from this live, flagship New York auction, taking place on 8 and 9 June at our Gallery at 432 Park Avenue in Manhattan.

Lot 100

Cartier Single Axle Mystery Clock “Pendule Mysterieuse”

Cartier Single Axle Mystery Clock, An extremely rare, impressive, and museum quality Single Axle rock crystal, jade, diamond, onyx, coral, pearl, and enamel mystery clock with original key and presentation box, Circa 1926

A museum-quality timepiece we’re thrilled to offer is this single-axle Mystery Clock, or “Pendule Mystérieuse” made by Cartier. Made of gold, jade, onyx, turquoise, lapis, and rock crystal and lavishly embellished with diamond-set hour markers and dragon-shaped hands, it is an ultimate and rather magical object of horological art.

Inspired by clocks from the mid-19th century made by watchmaker, illusionist, and the founder of modern magic, Robert Houdin, Cartier’s mystery clocks were known as “miracles of horology” as they were unlike anything the market had seen at the time of their launch in the early 20th century. So cloaked in mystery were these clocks that in the beginning, even the salespeople at the Cartier boutiques could not properly explain exactly how they worked.

With its fabulous art deco design using Asian motifs, it measures an impressive 27.5cm high by 13.5cm wide, and weighs in at 7.8 pounds. Mounted on fully transparent, rock crystal discs, the exquisite hour and minute hands appear to float in space – an optical illusion driven by a clock movement hidden within its base.

Cartier Mystery Clocks are each totally unique pieces and can be considered the ultimate creations of Cartier. This massive example made in 1926, last seen publicly over three decades ago, is utterly breathtaking, and, simply put, magnificent.

Lot 87

Philippe Dufour Duality

Philippe Dufour, Duality, An exceptionally rare, possibly unique, and fresh-to-market white gold wristwatch with double escapement, additional lacquered dial and hand set, certificate of origin, and fitted presentation box, 1999

From more recent times, it is our pleasure to offer a most probably unique Philippe Dufour Duality in 18 karat white gold. Fresh-to-market and the only example known with two dial and hand sets, the Duality’s launch in 1996 was a monumental achievement in wristwatch history as the world’s first wristwatch incorporating a double escapement.

Having two balances connected in this way enables greater accuracy as it allows the balances to average out their rates. If one runs slightly faster and the other a bit slower, the rate variations would cancel each other out.

Dufour had planned on making 25 Duality timepieces, however, due to the complexity of making, assembling, and adjusting the movement, he only made nine. So important was its launch that it would inspire François-Paul Journe to revisit his own dual-escapement design – the Resonance, which he first attempted years earlier within a pocket watch. Four years after the Duality’s introduction, Journe would introduce the world’s first Resonance wristwatch.

Very likely the only one in existence to feature a second, lacquered dial with Roman numerals and Breguet-style hands, this example, unseen by the public until now, in 18K white gold, numbered 03, is an important addition to the scholarship of Philippe Dufour and really of modern mechanical watchmaking.

Lot 28

Patek Philippe Observatory Chronometer, made for Henry Graves, Jr.

Patek Philippe, Pocket Watch Chronometer, An historically important, extremely rare, and exquisitely finished openface pocket watch chronometer with up-and-down indication, made for Henry Graves Jr., 1913
Patek Philippe, Pocket Watch Chronometer, An historically important, extremely rare, and exquisitely finished openface pocket watch chronometer with up-and-down indication, made for Henry Graves Jr., 1913

Widely considered one of the 20th century’s most important watch collectors, Henry Graves Jr. is best remembered for his legendary competition with automobile entrepreneur James Ward Packard, to commission some of the most important timepieces ever produced.

Graves would end up the ultimate victor, having commissioned the “Mona Lisa” of timepieces, the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication. Delivered in 1933 with 24 complications, it was the most complicated timepiece ever made, holding that distinction for over half a century.

Before Graves’ pursuit of ultimate complications, he sought the most accurate timepieces produced by the finest watchmaking brands. He specifically requested the #1 rated movements from annual chronometry competitions held at the Swiss Observatories – each hand-built and hand-adjusted by the brands’ best watchmakers. Equivalent to Formula 1 race cars, these “observatory chronometers” were a nod to Graves’ own pursuit of perfection. Before delivery, their cases would be engraved with his family motto, “Esse Quam Videri” – To Be Rather Than to Seem.

The present watch is certainly one such example, fitted with Patek Philippe’s highest quality movement equipped with a Guillaume balance and designated “Extra Special” on its bridge. Any time a Packard or Graves-owned timepiece is offered, the collecting world takes notice. They are, without any doubt, the apex of fine watchmaking of the 20th century – the very best watches, made by the best brands for the world’s greatest collectors.

Lot 29

Ulysse Nardin Oversized Split Seconds Chronograph

Ulysse Nardin, A very oversized, highly important, and possibly unique yellow gold split-seconds chronograph wristwatch with enamel dial, Guillaume balance, and hinged caseback, 1915

A mythical wristwatch long sought after by many of the world’s most important collectors, this Ulysse Nardin is the largest split-seconds chronograph wristwatch ever made. Measuring an incredible 52mm in diameter and made in the early 1900s, it was designed as a wristwatch – not a converted pocketwatch – with extremely impressive downturned lugs that are perfectly proportional to the case’s oversized dimensions.

Opening the wonderful, hinged caseback, one finds an extremely high-grade movement with Guillaume balance. A Guillaume balance with blued steel hairspring, which minimizes errors across temperatures, was the ultimate escapement for precision timekeepers and is extremely rare to find in any wristwatch. The icing on the cake is a beautiful and flawless enamel dial with bold Breguet numerals, with its movement serial number at 6 o’clock.

Last appearing at auction in 1988, only one other example is known in stainless steel. In 18 karat yellow gold, it is certainly one of the most important wristwatches ever made by the storied brand and is a true treasure for the connoisseur.

Lot 20

Rolex “Paul Newman” Cosmograph Daytona, Ref. 6239

Rolex, A stunning and exceptionally well-preserved stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with “Paul Newman” dial, tachymeter bezel, and bracelet, Circa 1968

Playing a pivotal role in Rolex history, the reference 6239 introduced in 1963 was the very first Daytona model, and was Rolex’s first chronograph to feature the tachymeter scale outside the dial, incorporated instead on the bezel.

In production as an alternative to the standard silvered and black dials, the dial on this example was originally named “exotic” by Rolex, before its association with the iconic actor. “Paul Newman” dials were poorly received at the time, and thus their production lasted just a few short years, making them today as scarce as they are appealing.

The present watch is a stunning example, maintaining its lovely, original “Paul Newman” dial in flawless condition, housed in an extremely well-preserved case. Its original luminous hour markers are perfectly preserved and have taken on a beautiful warm beige hue.

Consigned for the first time at auction by an astute collector, he appreciated its Japanese market origin, a country renowned for owners and collectors committed to the utmost quality and condition.

The identical configuration of Paul Newman’s very own “Paul Newman” Daytona, ref. 6239 that sold for a world record $17.8m by our team in October 2017, this ref. 6239 with tri-color Paul Newman dial is certainly one of the finest examples to ever be offered publicly.

See all the lots at phillips.com