Christie's Dubai will hold an Important Watches Auction at the Jumeirah Emirate Tower Hotel on March 23. Last year, the auction generated its biggest ever result with a total of $5.4 million. A rare Patek Philippe Ref. 2499/100 sold at the auction became the most expensive wristwatch sold an any auction in the region when it was sold for $499,500 (including buyer's premium) on the night of March 19, 2018

According to Remy Julia, the head of Christie's Watch Department for the Middle East, India and Africa, this year is set to be the biggest auction Christie's will host in the region what with more than 200 lots in the fray. There are some historically important pieces up for grabs, so without further ado, let's dive right in.

LOT 101: Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 1518 ‘King Farouk’

Ref. 1518 is the template for future Patek perpetual calendar chronos

This is the show-stopper at the Christie’s auction this year. A rare 18K yellow gold Ref. 1518 that belonged to King Farouk, the penultimate king of Egypt and Sudan. Ref. 1518 is the first perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch produced in series by any watch company. First unveiled in 1941 at the Swiss Watch Fair Basel (now known as Baselworld), this perpetual calendar chronograph was a show of strength from the Swiss brand amidst a very turbulent time in Europe. You can read a hands-on review of this watch, which is likely to break the record for the most expensive wristwatch sold at an auction in the Middle East.

ESTIMATE: $400,000-800,000 (AED1,500,000-2,900,000)

Lot 87: Patek Philippe Ref. 5004P-021

Ref. 5004 combines a perpetual calendar and a rattrapante chronograph

A perpetual calendar with a chronograph is rare enough, but one with a split-seconds chronograph is a real rarity. It takes a considerable skill to pack these two major complications into a movement and very few brands have managed to successfully produce such timepieces.

The magnificent Caliber CHR-27-70-Q powers this watch

The Ref. 5004, first introduced in 1996, is a horological heavyweight and this particular timepiece, the 5004P-032 is from circa 2009. It is encased in a 37 mm platinum and comes with an additional caseback and platinum Patek Philippe deployant buckle. This is presented with the original box and certificate. The watch is powered by the impressive hand-winding Cal. CHR 27-70-Q, which is based on the Nouvelle Lemania 2310. Here’s a stellar example that we recently featured online.  

ESTIMATE: $180,000-240,000 (AED660,000-870,000)

LOT 91: Audemars Piguet Ref: 25643BA

Introduced in 1986, this is the thinnest self-winding tourbillon watch

The Ref. 25643BA has an important place in the pantheon of horological greats. Introduced in 1986, it is the world’s first automatic tourbillon and also the thinnest self-winding tourbillon wristwatch ever made with a thickness of just 4.8 mm.

Jewels visible on the caseback of the Caliber 2870-powered watch

The watch is powered by Caliber 2870 and features a tourbillon cage made of titanium, which helps reduce the weight and therefore the power required for the escapement. Some of the jewels for the pivots are actually mounted on the caseback and are visible when you flip the watch over. This particular reference, from 1990, is presented in a 28 mm wide 18K gold case with a double deployant clasp.

ESTIMATE: $12,000-22,000 (AED44,000-80,000)

LOT 96: Vacheron Constantin Ref. 4241 Steel and Gold Triple Calendar

The effortlessly elegant Ref 4241 from Vacheron

If the Ref. 4241 looks vaguely familiar, it’s because Vacheron Constantin released the Historiques 1942  last year that was inspired by the triple calendars it released in the 1940s (the Ref. 4240). Typical of the classically-styled mid-century calendar watches, the Ref. 4241 uses a 35 mm stainless steel case with 18K gold teardrop lugs and a snap on back and is said to be from the year 1947.

A typical mid-century calendar watch dial

The silver dial uses applied gold Arabic numerals and baton markers. A blue date ring is placed on the outer fringe and the date is indicated by a central blue hand a red arrow tip. The dial has two apertures for French day and month in red and a sunken engine-turned subsidiary seconds dial. The watch is powered by the manual-winding Caliber 495 which is built on a LeCoultre ebauche.

ESTIMATE: $6,000-8,000 (AEDAED22,000-29,000)

Lot 120: Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675

Rolex GMT-Master Ref 1675 with that prized signature

Any vintage Rolex GMT-Master stands out in an auction catalogue given their popularity now, but this one is special. From 1972, the matte black dial of this Ref. 1675 features a print signature in red of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the current Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the UAE. It is worth mentioning here that back in 1972, Shaikh Mohammad was the Defence Minister of the country.

The signature of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

The watch uses a 39.5 mm stainless steel case and is in visibly good condition, it comes with a certificate from Rolex stating that the movement was given an overhaul in March 2017. It is powered by the self-winding Caliber 1570 movement.

ESTIMATE: $120,000-160,000 (AED440,000-580,000)

LOT 174: Vacheron Constantin Double Retrograde Mercator Wristwatch Ref. 43050/000J-17

Hour and minutes are indicated via retrograde hands

The Mercator Double Retrogade watches were a series of special timepieces launched by Vacheron Constantin to mark the 400th death anniversary of famed cartographer Gerardus Mercator. These watches featured an enamelled dial that showed a former map by Mercator with Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, above which moved two “compass” hands that indicated the current time via retrograde hours or minutes.

A glimpse of the Caliber 1120/2 with the 21K gold rotor

This particular reference is from 1995, has a gilt dial and in cased in 36 mm 18K gold. The watch is powered by the self-winding Cal. 1120/2 and has a 21K gold central rotor inscribed “1594-Gèrard Mercator-1994”. The watch is presented with the original certificate, extract from the archives, loupe and box.

ESTIMATE: $16,000-26,000 (AED59,000-95,000)

LOT 192: Rolex Day Date Ref. 1803 with applied solid gold Omani Khanjar on dial

Arab dial Rolex Day-Date references tend to do well in auctions

The presence of Khanjar dials (a reference to the printed Omani royal emblem on the dial, coveted by collectors) in a Middle East auction is a no-brainer but this Rolex Day Date is special because its silvered white dial sports a applied solid gold khanjar (and not the printed emblem as is norm).

An applied gold Khanjar emblem on the dial is quite rare

The 36.5 mm 18k gold case is fitted with an 18K gold Rolex Preident Bracelet and concealed depoyant clasp. The watch is of 1972 vintage and is powered by Caliber 1556 and is making its first appearance at any auction.

ESTIMATE: $35,000-55,000 (AED130,000-200,000)

LOT: 201 Universal Geneve Compax Ref. 12’243

This gorgeous salmon dial Compax is from 1942

Manufactured in 1942, this 18k rose gold Universal Geneve Compax chronograph (Ref 12’243) is a gorgeous timepiece that is testimony to the now defunct brand’s stellar reputation among vintage watch aficionados. The salmon dial has an black telemeter scale on the periphery of the dial, an inner black tachymeter scale and three counters for the running seconds, hours and minutes. The 35 mm tripartite gold case uses horn lugs and has a snap on back with two rectangular chronograph pushers. The watch is presented with an extract from the archives which confirms its 1942 production date.

ESTIMATE: $13,000-20,000 (AED48,000-73,000)

LOT 209: Rolex Daytona Ref. 6241 ‘John Player Special with Paul Newman dial’

The coveted JPS Rolex Daytona Paul Newman

Everyone knows vintage Rolex models tend to have nicknames given to them by the collecting community. This Daytona reference carries two - not only does it have the famed Paul Newman dial, it’s gold and black color scheme has earned it the moniker John Player Special – a reference to the black and gold livery of the Lotus F1 team in 1972 that was sponsored by the British cigarette brand.

Manufactured in 1969, the watch uses a 37.5 mm 14 k gold case and is in good nick considering its age. The black ‘Paul Newman’ dial with champagne registers and an outer track. The vintage market for Paul Newman Daytonas is hot right now and a rare JPS Paul Newman is making its debut in any auction in the Middle East. Watch this one.

ESTIMATE: $200,000-400,000 (AED730,000-1,500,000)

LOT 107: Minerva military chronograph with tachymeter and telemeter scale                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Minerva was known for their excellent chronograph movements

Founded in 1858, Minerva has a storied history of making quality chronographs, especially in the 1930s and 1940s. Now part of Montblanc’s watchmaking division, Minerva is known for their excellent chronograph movements and this particular monopusher chronograph is a shining example.

This military chronograph is in remarkable condition

In excellent condition, the 42 mm stainless steel case may have been a gigantic case size in its production year 1940, but it feels just right in today’s age. It is fitted with a rotating bezel and snap on case. The black dial has an inner spiral tachmeter scale and a telemeter scale on the periphery. The watch is powered by manual-winding Caliber 17 and is a good example of a mid-century military chronograph.

ESTIMATE: $8,000-14,000 (AED30,000-51,000)