A unique Breguet and Chaumet co-signed white gold watch with an Islamic Hijri instantaneous triple calendar that once belonged to King Hassan II of Morocco is up for grabs at the Christie’s Rare Watches Auction in Geneva next month.
The watch has a pre-sale estimate of $40,000-80,000 and has been consigned to Christie’s by an anonymous seller. As proof of the imperial provenance of this watch, the original box and certificate of sale is provided with it. According to the sale papers, this wristwatch was delivered on December 23, 1985 to King Hassan II, one of the most prominent rulers of the Middle East.
The aesthetic and technical traits of the piece suggest that this was a special on-request commission. The watch has an octagon shape with rounded corners and a case width of 36 mm. It is in immaculate condition what with an unpolished case and sports the stylistic traits typical of the Eighties, such as the ribbed band and the stepped bezel.
In true Breguet tradition, the silver sold gold dial is completely engine-turned except for the satin-finished hour chapter ring and the two “cartouches” with Breguet and Chaumet signatures. A different engine-turned pattern is used for the borders of the hour rings.
Why does Chaumet appear on the dial? Breguet was owned by Chaumet between 1970 and 1987. The jewelry brand guided it through the Quartz Crisis before bankruptcy forced it to sell the venerable watch brand on to Bahrain-based Investcorp.
This is no ordinary triple calendar timepiece with calendar discs in Arabic. That isn’t even a regular Gregorian calendar displayed on the dial, but the Hijri Islamic calendar. This system is based on lunar months, so each month can be 29 or 30 days long: there are no 31 days long months. So the calendar gears in the self-winding movement needed to be modified to display the Islamic calendar.
However, that’s not the only detail that makes this watch special. A closer examination of the caseback reveals the Breguet signature and five hallmarks: two Swiss gold marks, two French import marks (the owl, with the number 75 indicating the mark was executed in Paris) and a “JC” hallmark with a star and a crescent, which is the hallmark of Joseph Chaumet.
The inside of the caseback reveals the maker’s mark – JHP. Watch geeks will recognize these initials as that of the legendary casemaker Jean-Pierre Hagmann who plied his trade with haute horology brands like Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet.
The woven white gold bracelet bears the hallmark of Jean-Pierre Ecofey, a prominent bracelet maker active at the time. However, the bracelet holds one more surprise: it is stamped “Audemars Piguet”. Christie’s says that after much research it has concluded that there are no reasons to believe that the bracelet is not original to the watch. It can be assumed that it was selected by the Chaumet brothers for use on this timepiece.
According to Christie’s, this watch has never been sold in the public domain before. “It comes from an Italian collection. It was privately acquired in the early 2000s.” King Hassan II ruled Morocco from 1961 up until his death in 1999. The largest mosque in Morocco, featuring the highest minaret in the world, is dedicated to him.
There are two other rare watches with imperial provenance that are up for sale next month at the auctions. A rare Rolex Ref. 6062 that belonged to the last emperor of Vietnam and a Patek Philippe perpetual calendar Ref. 2479 once owned by Haile Selassie, the former emperor of Ethiopia.