As the cacophony of SIHH becomes a distant memory and we all wait patiently for Baselworld in March and the start of the year’s vintage watch auction circuit in spring, it is the perfect time to turn our attention back to the ever-changing supply of collectible vintage timepieces circulating through digital retailers around the globe. It is always interesting to see what rare and sometimes obscure pieces hit the market on any given day, and as luck would have it, this past week was no exception. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we should point out that two of our selections would make wonderful gifts for that special watch collector in your life, whereas the other would be a great pick to entice your loving partner or other special lady into a greater appreciation of your collecting habit.
Patek Philippe Yellow Gold, Lapis, and Diamond Watch; Earrings; and Ring Set
While we could have tracked down the obligatory vintage Patek Philippe perpetual calendar or something else from the company’s extensive archives, this matching lapis, diamond, and yellow-gold jewelry set from 1977 is too unique to ignore. Offered for sale with an extract from the Patek Philippe archives noting both its production and sale dates (1977 and March 1978, respectively), the set even comes with its original box. Even though the specific caliber used by the piece is not noted—nor is the estimated carat weight of the multitude of diamonds fitted to the piece—the watch carries enough documentation to still pique our interest, even with its $85,000 asking price. Retro-themed accessories continue to be on trend as of late, and we firmly believe this set will make the right statement. (1stdibs.com)
Zenith El Primero 18-Karat Yellow Gold
If we lost any serious watch enthusiasts with our first pick, hopefully the shot of this 18-karat yellow-gold Zenith El Primero is enough to rekindle their interest. Any all-original El Primero from the 1970s in decent condition is a pretty smart buy, but an ultra-rare solid-gold example with its original bracelet (despite a couple nicks and bumps) is definitely worth a second look. Though we have not been able to confirm directly with Zenith, the team at Matthew Bain states that only 100 examples of this El Primero were ever produced. If this is the case (or even close to it), its sticker price of $15,000 isn’t far off the mark. We are also starting to see more and more new yellow-gold pieces being released, so if your intent is to wear it, this is a vintage pick that won’t look out of place given current industry trends. (matthewbaininc.com)
Bovet Mono-Rattrapante Chronograph
Following Phillips’ successful auction of steel chronographs last year, the market for uncommon steel gems like this Bovet Mono-Rattrapante Chronograph continues to flourish. Even previously less-desirable chronographs from Omega, Movado, and more obscure brands like Gallet and Grana are receiving increased attention nowadays due to their rarity. This Bovet, for instance, is a curiosity of note because it is something you simply don’t see every day. Just ask Eric Wind, vice president and senior specialist of watches at Christie’s, who has been keeping an eye on vintage Bovet pieces of late. “Vintage Bovet chronographs are starting to get noticed among collectors of chronographs. They have great movements and amazing aesthetics.” Speaking of movements, this particular example is powered by the Valjoux 84, whose chronograph complication includes the ability for split timing through the operation of its bottom pusher. Though not as high tech as a full rattrapante (or split-seconds) chronograph, this functionality gives the Bovet a leg up over other conventional mechanical chronographs out there. Listed for $5,900, there are certainly more affordable vintage chronographs out there, but we still don’t expect this one to stay listed for too long. (mentawatches.com)