Patek Philippe Ref. 1491J CC

The classic vintage Ref. 1491 was a time-only wristwatch known for its “scrolled lugs” and was produced between 1940 and 1965. So the presence of a chronograph model in the same reference immediately elevates its status as it believed to be a “possibly unique” piece, perhaps a prototype or a test piece.

This is the only known chronograph reference of 1491 model

This chronograph, according to an extract from the Patek archives, was manufactured in 1937 and the original case was replaced during servicing in 1942. A manual wound Caliber 13 120 based on a 13-ligne Valjoux ebauche powers the watch and the asymmetrical dial is consistent for a Stern Frères dial made in the 1940s. The 30-minute counter at 3 o’ clock is oversized to allow for better reading. Unlike the standard Ref. 1491 that has dots for hour markers, this chronograph dial has applied Roman numerals.

Note the scrolled lugs and engraved caseback

The three-piece case, custom-made to fit this movement by prominent Geneva-based master case maker Francois Markoswsky in 1942, is distinguished by its unique scroll-shaped lugs that are thicker and heavier than the standard 1491 reference. At 31.5 mm wide and 10.84 mm thick, the case is more than 1 mm larger and thicker than the standard reference and the caseback has the inscription “To Dad From Jimmy”. The watch was purchased by an American sports journalist at a major New York newspaper from the 1930s to 1950s. It was previously offered at the Christie’s New York auction in October 2006. Estimate: $500,000-1,000,000 (AED1,900,000-3,600,000)

Patek Philippe Ref. 1463R

Ref. 1463 is Patek Philippe’s only vintage chronograph with a “water-resistant” case and round chronograph pushers. Of the 740 pieces made (in yellow, pink gold and stainless steel), only 56 examples in pink gold are known today. This particular model, with the applied Roman numerals at XII and VI and dot hour markers, is the only known example retailed by Caracas-based Serpico y Laino. And it once belonged to Eric Clapton.

This watch was once owned by Eric Clapton

The watch has a 35 mm pink gold case signed by the maker and stamped by the Venezuelan retailer. It is powered by the manual-winding Caliber 13-130 fitted with a swan neck regulator. According to an extract from the archives, the watch was manufactured in 1950 and was sold first on April 20, 1951.This is not this timepiece’s first rodeo – it appeared at the Sotheby’s New York auction in 2000 from the collection of Clapton. It has since appeared at Christie’s twice – in 2003 (New York) and 2007 (Geneva). Apart from its provenance and possible uniqueness, this is also a gorgeous example of a mid-century Patek chronograph. Estimate: $550,000-850,000 (AED2,000,000-3,100,000)

Audemars Piguet Ref. 26118BC Minute Repeater Tourbillon Chronograph

Few haute horology brands can claim the kind legitimacy making minute repeaters that Audemars Piguet has. The Jules Audemars collection pays tribute to the co-founder of the company and houses the brand’s most refined and technically proficient timepieces. This particular watch is a testament to AP’s technical prowess as it combines a minute repeater, a tourbillon and a column wheel chronograph.

A trio of complications on this heavyweight from AP

Manufactured in 2008, this watch has a 43 mm wide 18k white gold case with a bezel set with 36 baguette-cut diamonds for 3.35 carats; the case, lugs deployant clasp are set with 415 diamonds for 3.55 carats. The watch is powered by Caliber 2874, consisting of 504 parts and finished to the standards expected from an haute horology brand. The black engine-turned dial has a 30 minute chronograph counter at 3 o’ clock and an aperture for the one minute tourbillon at 6. Preserved in like new condition, this grand complication watch from AP has an estimate of $150,000-250,000 (AED550,000-910,000).

Universal Genève Tri-Compax Ref. 222100/1

Universal Genève’s “Tri-Compax” triple calendar chronograph is probably the brand’s most popular model. Among those spotted wearing a Universal Genève in the past include prominent politicians like Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, who wore a Universal Tri-Compax at the historic Potsdam Conference in 1945.

The Tri-Compax is a vintage classic

This particular reference was manufactured in 1963 and is paired with a stainless steel Universal Genève/ Gay Freres bracelet and deployant clasp. A triple calendar - not to be confused with an annual calendar (which is a more recent invention, 1996 to precise) – the dial displays the day, date, week, month, moon phase, the two chronograph counters for minutes and hours, a running seconds dial, and a tachymeter scale. Estimate: $8,000-12,000 (AED30,000-44,000)

Rolex Tru-Beat Ref. 6556

The world of vintage Rolex can be a very irrational place – cue this $17.7 million sale from 2017. Here models with irregularities - tropical dials, inconsistent printing techniques or faded bezels – can years later add to the model’s allure. Take the example of the Tru-Beat Ref. 6556, a watch with the rare dead beats seconds complication that was developed as a tool watch for medical practitioners.

The Tru-Beat was produced only for a few years

The only Rolex with a dead beat seconds movement – the seconds hand moves only once every second like in a quartz watch as opposed to the sweeping seconds hand of a conventional mechanical watch – the Ref. 6556 was used by medical practitioners to measure patient’s pulse rates. However, there was very little demand for the watch and because servicing the rather complex movement was difficult, Rolex eventually discontinued production five years after it first launched the watch in 1954.

Since only a few examples remain with the dead-beat mechanism of the Rolex caliber 1040 still intact, there is bound to interest whenever a working example surfaces at an auction. The present example was manufactured in 1956 and comes with a well preserved dial that’s also been signed by the retailer, Tiffany & Co. The watch has a 34 mm wide Oyster case with an Oyster expandable bracelet with a deployant clasp stamped 57,4,53. As mentioned earlier, the watch is powered by Caliber 1040, a self-winding movement with 26 jewels. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000 (AED73,000-110,000)

Rolex Ref. 3525 Oyster Chronograph

Such is the halo around vintage Rolex Daytona chronographs, especially the Paul Newman variety, that every time a spectacular chronograph from the pre-Daytona turns up in an auction catalogue, you are bound to take notice. Case in point is the Ref. 3525 from circa 1942 with a gorgeous salmon dial and black tachymeter scale and a blue telemeter scale. This is the first chronograph reference that Rolex fitted into an Oyster case – Rolex’s designation for its waterproof cases - and was made only for six years between 1939 and 1945.

The first Rolex chronograph in an Oyster case

This watch is also from the early production of the reference as evidenced by the presence of the reference and serial number on the outside of the caseback as opposed to their placement between the lugs in later models. The 35 mm wide stainless steel case has a screw down caseback and a screw down “Oyster Patent” crown. It is powered by a hand-wound cal. 13'''VZ movement and was previously sold at Christie’s Geneva on November 13, 2017. Estimate: $70,000-120,000 (AED260,000-440,000)

Vacheron Constantin pocket watch

Manufactured around 1848 – let that sink in for a minute – this 18K yellow gold has an outer detachable two-piece case featuring an enamel painting scene of a mother and child, the inner has a miniature enamel painting depicting an Alpine scenery.

This is a pocket watch from 1848

The enamel dial has Roman numerals painted in black and the Vacheron et Constantin signature appears at 6 o’clock. An extract from the archive confirms that this pocket watch was manufactured in 1848. Powered by a mechanical movement that is wound by a key, this is a lovely example of a mid-19th century pocketwatch from the oldest watch company in the world today. Estimate: $10,000-15,000 (AED37,000-55,000)

Rolex Platinum Daytona Ref. 116506 Made for the Middle East

This one ticks the boxes as far as exclusivity is concerned: Platinum Daytona – check, Eastern Arabic Numerals – check. The Rolex Ref. 116506 is the first platinum-cased Daytona and was produced to celebrate the iconic chronograph’s 50th anniversary in 2013. Understandably, the platinum edition was an elusive one for collectors but to find one with Eastern Arabic numerals would be even rarer.

This is literally a heavyweight timepiece

The heavyweight 40 mm case is made from 950 platinum and feature a chestnut brown ceramic bezel with markings coated with PVD platinum. The chapter rings of the subdial are lacquered and the ice-blue dial (Rolex uses this dial only for its platinum cased watches) forms a strong contrast against the brown of the bezel. The watch is powered by Caliber 4130, Rolex’s latest generation self-winding chronograph movement and has been preserved in a like new condition, complete with the factory protective stickers. Estimate: $70,000-100,000 (AED260,000-360,000)

Rolex GMT Master Ref. 16753

Vintage Rolex watches with a connection to Middle East royalty continue to draw attention at auctions and both Christie’s and Sotheby’s offer a wide selection of “Arab dial” watches this month. This particular reference is a rare two tone Rolex GMT Master with the UAE Ministry of Defence Quarysh Hawk logo and a facsimile signature of Dubai’s ruler His Highness Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was back then the country’s Defence Minister.

The steel case has an 18K yellow gold bezel

The stainless steel 40 mm case has an 18K yellow gold bezel with a champagne gold and brown insert. The chocolate brown dial has the above-mentioned logo and signature. The model is from circa 1979 and is according to Christie’s, only the second example of this kind to be offered at an international auction. The “Al Maktoum” dial watches have risen in value over the years and you can read more about how these watches were commissioned here. Estimate: $60,000-100,000 (AED220,000-360,000)

Rolex Day Date Ref. 1811 with Eastern Arabic Numerals

This stunning timepiece is another example of how Rolex created special order timepieces for the Middle East. The region has a history of commissioning watches with special dials or engraved case backs which were given as gifts to visiting dignitaries and such.

The mesh link bracelet is highly unusual

This particular Day-Date Ref. 1811 is encased in 18K gold with a linen textured-finished bezel and a champagne gold dial with applied yellow gold Eastern Arabic numerals. In remarkable condition, the watch is paired with an unusual handcrafted 18K yellow gold mesh-link bracelet that has the same linen texture finish, the big logo bracelet has a deployant clasp. The watch is manufactured circa 1975, even though production of Ref. 1811 began in 1966. Estimate: $100,000-150,000 (AED370,000-550,000)