An auction of vintage watches is scheduled for Jan.18 in the ballroom of the Monaco Yacth Club, an even that ordinarily would not be considered unusual. But this particular sale is set to make a small mark on horological history as the first dedicated to watches made for women, according to its organizers, the french auction house Artcurial.
The 92-lot catalog is to feature watches from 1900 to the present day with prices estimated from 1,000 euros to 80,000 euros ($1,200 to $95,830).
It is expected to realize a total of about €500,000 in sales. The vintage watch scene is traditionally a male domain, with most sale catalogs containing only a few offerings for women.
For example, only two women’s watches were among the 157 timepieces auctioned in November by Phillips at its Geneva Watch Auction Six — although there were about a dozen gem-set models that could be considered unisex. And in July 2016, Artcurial’s own Fine Watches sale had fewer than 40 women’s styles among the 271 lots.
As a result, the sight of female bidders also is relatively rare. But the tables will be turned this month at the Le Temps est Féminin sale which, according to Geoffroy Ader, the former head of Sotheby’s European watch department and now a consultant to Artcurial, will attract women eager for classic timepieces from top marques such as Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe.
“I have worked in the auction business for a long time,” Mr. Ader said, “and people have been discussing the idea of holding a thematic sale dedicated to women’s watches for years without actually making it happen.
“We have decided to finally do it because more and more brands are putting forward mechanical watches for women and, although I don’t believe women collect watches with the same degree of fervor that men do, they are becoming increasingly interested in good quality, mechanical pieces and are nowadays more likely to want to buy them for themselves.”
Among this sale highlights are 16 piaget models from 1960s and 70s, including two oval cocktail watches with jade dails and diamond and emerald set bezels that are similar to one worn by Jacqueline kennedy in the late 60s. The white gold one is estimated to sell at $4,000 to $6,000 and the yelow gold version at $2,000 to $3,000
The sale also has four examples of Piaget’s signature bangle watches from the period, each valued at €6,000 to €15,000. “Most Swiss watch manufacturers were struggling during that era, but Piaget was selling like crazy because of its combination of high quality and innovative design,” Mr. Ader said. “These are now regarded as classic models that are both collectible and very wearable today.”
Other notable pieces include a 1962 custom diamond- and sapphire-set Patek Philippe pendant watch (€30,000 to €50,000) and a rare 1930 Jaeger-LeCoultre Art Deco brooch watch (€6,000 to €10,000). More modern offerings include timepieces from Chanel, Bulgari, Audemars Piguet, Cartier and Rolex. The most valuable piece, estimated to sell at €60,000 to €80,000, is an example of the highly technical le Pont des Amoureux design by Van Cleef and Arpels, which has the figures of a man and woman on a bridge.
Twice a day, at the stroke of 12, they meet and exchange a fleeting kiss.
And the woman is never late.