We really like the chaps who work in the watch department of Bonhams. No secret or shame there. But the person we would crawl over glass for at Bonhams is the incredibly forgiving and diplomatic gent who had to sit through Straight-Six’s slurred, sob story about how a well-drenched lunch at Scott’s caused him to “accidentally” bid on a tasty IWC Pilots Watch Doppelchronograph. Yes, we can admit to love, gratitude and utter stupidity all in the same sentence. Cause that’s how we roll.
Anyways, following a solid auction in London in June, when we highlighted our and their top picks, Bonhams is back at it once again. A planned auction in London on 11 September meant we heard the delicious dull thud of their sale catalogue hitting our mat.
So, what follows is the usual Prodigal blend of advice, opinion and downright lust: it’s what we have our eye on. And so should you…
Lot 38 – Swiss World Time pocket watch: I travel. You travel. We all frigging travel. So, what could be more useful, and genuinely unexpected, than this circa 1890, white enamel-dialed Swiss world timer? Better yet, it has a central dial for London surround by subsidiary dials at 12, 2, 4, 8 and 10 for time in Hong Kong, Bombay, Sydney, Shanghai and Calcutta. If this were made today, you’d find Shanghai in the central dial and London on the back…It measures in at a cool 51mm and is a no-brainer at an estimate of €770 – €1,000.
Lot 109 – Rolex Oyster Unicorn: Ever since we started looking into Rolex bubblebacks, we’ve found our aesthetic sensibilities increasingly tweaked by the early 20th century Rolex offerings, as opposed to what we actually have in our collections. Sure, this one is small at 32mm, but it’s a hitherto unknown to us Oyster Unicorn, ref. 2081. Circa 1920, the dial is actually signed signed Oyster Unicorn, with blued steel skeletonised pointed baton hands, a subsidiary dial at 6 for running seconds and a polished cushion shaped case with signed screw down Oyster back and crown. Estimate: €900 – €1,200.
Lot 124 – Rolex 2764 w/California dial: Another miniscule offering (32mm) from Rolex (yeah, we’re predictable!) has the ever-popular California dial, in this case from a ref. 2764 from 1953. The silvered dial has the expected Arabic and Roman numeral California hour markers and a subsidiary dial at 6 for running seconds. Of note is the fitted stainless steel expanding link bracelet. Let your wife wear it. Let your kids wear it. Spread the SoCal sun, pretty please? Estimate: €900 – €1,200.
Lot 162 – Omega Seamaster Chronostop: There’s a reason this graces the cover of the sale catalogue: it’s perfectly balanced, funky and fun. This circa 1967 Seamaster Chronostop has a manual wind movement and black dial with outer racing minute divisions and white printed 500 to 60 tachymeter scale, white baton hands with luminous inserts and the glorious orange centre chronograph hand. The perfectly sized brushed and polished tonneau shaped case seals the deal with its graceful 39mm diameter. Estimate: €900 – €1,200.
Lot 202 – Breitling Datora: The Fool once had a Breitling Datora from the 2000s. It sported a white dial and so many functions you couldn’t tell the time with it. Or use it for anything else except to serve as a teacup saucer. It was one of the very few watches he eventually let go in favour of something less, ahem, culinary. And to prove Breitling can do a Datora right, we give you this blue-eyed number, the ref. 2018 from 1970. It has an alluring sunburst dark blue dial with paired painted luminous baton hour markers, outer 1000 to 60 tachymeter scale and a brushed and polished tonneau shaped case. It’s topped off perfectly with a fitted blue Breitling textile and leather strap. And it measures 37mm in diameter. No reason to fight it, right? Estimate: €900 – €1,200.
For further details of all the lots up for sale on 11 September, please visit the Bonhams website.
Bonhams watches and wristwatches sale, London, 11 September
Next week our favourite auction house is putting on another of its legendary watch sales and the catalogue just landed on our mat. So, we asked picky Straight-Six to have a flick through the book and tell us what he thought. And then try very hard not to remind him of how he “accidentally” bid on that IWC Pilot’s Doppelchrono the last time he staggered into Bonhams…
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Bonham's, Breitling Datora, california dial, iwc pilot's doppelchronograph, omega seamaster chronostop, rolex 2764 California dial, rolex california dial, rolex oyster unicorn, swiss world time pocket watch
Eric (AKA Straight-Six) had a proper job as a journalist for Dow Jones before lowering himself gently into the warm, forgiving waters of The Guide. He’s our resident fanatic: he relished detailing his BMW M3 for two full days at a time before crashing it at Eau Rouge in the wet; he spends insane amounts on his home-cinema system and has thrown tens of thousands of euros at vintage Rolex sports watches. The little fool simply does not understand the concept of restraint or the meaning of excess. He also – following a legendary "heavy" lunch – once nibbled (yes, like little dogs do) a dear lady friend of ours.
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