Source: Phillips

15 Rare Treasures in Phillips’s First Hong Kong Watch Auction

There's no question now: We're in the heart of watch auction season. Records are being set, limited-edition lots are finding new homes, and vintage treasures that we didn't know existed are surfacing for the first time. On Dec. 1, Phillips's new watch department will hold its first Hong Kong sale—and boy, is it going to be good. Here are the 15 watches you definitely don't want to sleep on.

  1. F.P. Journe Centrigraphe Sport (Lot 12)
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    F.P. Journe Centrigraphe Sport (Lot 12)

    This 2011 Centrigraphe Sport is a rare casual watch from Journe. It's part of the first production series, which used aluminum for the case and the bracelet to make the watch as light as possible. Newer models are titanium instead (aluminum can be fragile), making the originals even more collectible. Estimate: $25,000 to $39,000

    Source: Phillips

  2. Patek Philippe Observatory Pocket Watch (Lot 315)
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    Patek Philippe Observatory Pocket Watch (Lot 315)

    Not all collectors get excited over pocket watches, but this Observatory watch from 1924 is truly incredible. The steel case and sleek sector dial hide a movement with a massive tourbillon that won first prize in the 1931 Geneva Astronomical Observatory competition. That means at the time this was very likely the most accurate watch on the planet. There's also an extra yellow gold case with a more conservative dial and hand set included if the look isn't really your thing. Estimate: $500,000 to $1 million

    Source: Phillips

  3. Cartier Crash (Lot 255)
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    Cartier Crash (Lot 255)

    The story of the Cartier Crash is an apocryphal one. Legend has it a customer in London was in a car accident and his wife's Cartier Bagnoire watch was mangled in the event. He took it to Cartier for repairs and the company thought it was beautiful as is, adding a reproduction to the collection. Whether it's true is irrelevant, as the limited production of the Crash has made it a watch worthy of attention all on its own. Estimate: $15,000 to $25,000

    Source: Phillips

  4. Patek Philippe Tiffany Ref. 5396 (Lot 343)
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    Patek Philippe Tiffany Ref. 5396 (Lot 343)

    Tiffany has been selling Patek Phillipe watches since 1851. Yet to celebrate the fifth anniversary (how cute!) of the new Patek boutique inside Tiffany's New York flagship store, the brands produced this limited-edition annual calendar with the Tiffany logo at 6 o'clock. Only top clients were offered the opportunity to buy one of the 100 pieces, and they rarely come up for public sale. Estimate: $72,000 to $103,000

    Source: Phillips

  5. Rolex Submariner "Big Crown" (Lot 224)
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    Rolex Submariner "Big Crown" (Lot 224)

    James Bond is largely responsible for making the Rolex Submariner the sport watch of choice for generations of guys. This ref. 5510 "Big Crown" Submariner is nearly identical to the one worn by Sean Connery in Dr. No and has the signature red bezel triangle and oversize crown. Fine, it's not an actual Bond watch, but it's darn close. Estimate: $62,000 to $77,000

    Source: Phillips

  6. A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst (Lot 335)
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    A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst (Lot 335)

    Yeah, the name is a mouthful. The Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst has the same digital-style display as all the other Lange Zeitwerk watches, but with a special hand-engraved dial. The special texture is called "tremblage" and shows off a deep grain in the metal. Only 30 of these were ever made (this is No. 18), and all were reserved on preorder, so the watch was never available for public sale. This is a good chance to snatch one up. Estimate: $130,000 to $260,000

    Source: Phillips

  7. Cartier Monopusher Chronograph (Lot 60)
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    Cartier Monopusher Chronograph (Lot 60)

    This tiny Tank watch packs a big punch in its 34mm. Inside is a monopusher chronograph movement, meaning only the button set into the crown is needed to operate the mechanism. This keeps the silhouette streamlined and makes the watch much more understated than most other chronos. It may be from only 2008, but it feels like a classic. Estimate: $15,000 to $25,000

    Source: Phillips

  8. Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 6542 (Lot 219)
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    Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 6542 (Lot 219)

    The GMT has gone through many iterations since it was first released in 1954. This 1958 ref. 6542 isn't the very first GMT, but it's probably the sweet spot between the original and the current archetype we know today. You get the plastic Bakelite bezel and slim 24-hour hand of the 1954 model, but with the classic Rolex Mercedes-style hands of the later versions. This watch is beautifully aged and totally droolworthy. Estimate: $58,000 to $84,000

    Source: Phillips

  9. Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Perpetual Calendar (Lot 182)
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    Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Perpetual Calendar (Lot 182)

    It wouldn't be an auction roundup without a little bling. It's hard to believe this skeletonized Vacheron Constantin perpetual calendar dates back to 1981, since it looks so clean and modern (once you get past those diamonds on the bezel). The blue registers stand out against the mechanics, making it highly legible, too, a boon on a watch this complicated. Estimate: $23,000 to $32,000

    Source: Phillips

  10. Rolex Tropical "Double Red" Sea-Dweller (Lot 172)
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    Rolex Tropical "Double Red" Sea-Dweller (Lot 172)

    There's a lot of terminology here, but it's actually all very simple. Early Sea-Dwellers have two lines of red text on the dial, while later models are all white. Hence "double red." The black dial has also faded to a rich brown color, a consequence of exposure to sunlight and the elements that collectors call a "tropical" dial. The included box and papers and nicely faded bezel complete the package. Estimate: $32,000 to $52,000

    Source: Phillips

  11. Vacheron Constantin Chronograph (Lot 25)
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    Vacheron Constantin Chronograph (Lot 25)

    This watch is all about the dial. Sure, the vintage-style arched lugs are beautiful and the platinum case is in good condition, but it's that salmon dial that sets this watch apart. The color is reminiscent of certain idiosyncratic watches made in the 1930s and '40s, which is a surefire way to get vintage collectors excited. Estimate: $15,000 to $25,000

    Source: Phillips

  12. Christophe Claret Minute Repeater (Lot 38)
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    Christophe Claret Minute Repeater (Lot 38)

    From one of the masters of unusual complications, this watch might look rather simple. It's not. The dial shows two time zones, and inside the gold case is a minute repeater that chimes the time with cathedral gongs, meaning the notes are extra loud and resonant. Only eight were ever made and this is No. 5. Estimate: $80,000 to $130,000

    Source: Phillips

  13. Patek Philippe Jump Hour Anniversary Watch (Lot 12)
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    Patek Philippe Jump Hour Anniversary Watch (Lot 12)

    In 1989, Patek Philippe celebrated its 150th anniversary and released a few limited-edition watches. This pink gold Jump Hour is one of them and is a serious piece of watch-collecting history. These don't come up for sale too often, and only 450 pieces like this exist. It's worth noting, though, that at 28mm across, this watch will be a little small for modern wear. Estimate: $20,000 to $28,000

    Source: Phillips

  14. Roger Dubuis Perpetual Calendar (Lot 28)
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    Roger Dubuis Perpetual Calendar (Lot 28)

    Today, Roger Dubuis makes mostly gaudier watches with lots of skeletonizing and gems. This watch from 2005 shows a more sober side of the manufacture. The three windows up top show a full perpetual calendar (day, date, month), and down at 6 o'clock there's a moon-phase indictor and second time zone, too. Restrained complexity. Estimate: $13,000 to $20,000

    Source: Phillips

  15. Patek Philippe Ref. 3450 Perpetual Calendar (Lot 305)
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    Patek Philippe Ref. 3450 Perpetual Calendar (Lot 305)

    This watch sends a tingle down my spine. This very rare white gold ref. 3450 might be the cleanest, most modern-looking perpetual calendar Patek Philippe has ever made. It's also one of only two known to exist in white gold (most are yellow). It's in great condition. And it includes the original box and certificate. In other words, this could very well be a serious record-setter. Estimate: $1 million to $2 million

    Source: Phillips