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Make time to bid on Vintage to Modern Designer Watches Sept. 21

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak jumbo extra-thin men’s watch, est. $97,000-$116,000

What time is it? Time to expand your watch wardrobe via some smart, strategic bids. On Tuesday, September 21, starting at 9 pm Eastern time, Jasper52 will host a sale of Vintage to Modern Designer Watches – 162 lots of wristwatches and other timepieces by venerated names such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Audemars Piguet, Rolex, Tag Heuer, Baume & Mercier, Ulysse Nardin, Patek Philippe, Bulova, Jaeger LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, and more.

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Rolex: How a revered luxury brand evolved

This 1969 18K gold Rolex Cosmograph Daytona sold for $450,000 plus buyer’s premium in 2018. It is similar to the watch worn by actor Paul Newman that sold for $15.5 million plus buyer’s premium in 2017. Image courtesy: Dan Morphy Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

For more than a century, Rolex has been a pioneer of excellence, distinction, elegance and accuracy in timepieces. Its products are worthy of being worn in any setting, even the most extreme. A Rolex has been carried to the top of Mount Everest, traveled to the depths of the Marianas Trench while strapped to the outside of a submarine, and flew to the International Space Station – all without losing even a second of time. Such heroic accomplishments spring from humble origins.

According to the accepted lore, in 1905, two brothers-in-law opened a shop in London called Wilsdorf & Davis, which specialized in accurate and affordable timepieces. Hans Wilsdorf had some experience with timepieces, particularly watches, thanks to his previous work in 1900 as a stem-winder with the Cuno Korten watchmaking company. Alfred Davis was the London company’s main investor and handled the business side of the new partnership.

One of the earliest wristwatches from Wilsdorf & Davis still without the Rolex brand name, but with the initials W&D etched inside the sterling silver case cover that sold for $1,500 plus buyer’s premium in 2015. Image courtesy: Auctionata U.S. and LiveAuctioneers

In the late 19th century, pocket watches were the dominant style of timepiece. They were usually worn in a vest and attached to a chain. Smaller so-called “wristlets,” worn on the arm, were the province of women. It was said that gentlemen “…would sooner wear a skirt as wear a wristwatch.” But war changed everything.

More precisely, the Boer War started the cultural shift that made wrist-worn watches acceptable to men. The local Boers, or farmers, fought the controlling British for independence in what is now South Africa from 1899 to 1902. Wilsdorf learned that soldiers had found themselves fumbling for pocket watches during battle and, faced with the grim risk of losing precious seconds while under fire, began strapping watches to their wrists. This practice inspired Wilsdorf to create a wristwatch for men. He chose the name “Rolex,” a word that had no particular meaning. It is believed to have popped into Wilsdorf’s head during a bus ride in London.

A simple Rolex original watch from 1908 using Jean Aegler watch movements in an exterior case possibly by Denninger, the main supplier of early Wilsdorf & Davis watches, sold for $800 plus buyer’s premium in 2013. Image courtesy: Don Presley Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Initially, Wilsdorf worried that his Rolex wristwatch would not achieve the same level of accuracy asa pocket watch. To his delight, his invention was recognized by the Society of Horology in 1910 for its highly accurate chronometer. In 1914, it received a coveted “Class A Certificate of Precision” from the King’s Observatory, becoming the first wristwatch ever to earn this honor from the prestigious Royal Astronomical Society. After these triumphs, Wilsdorf was quoted as saying that “…pocket watches will almost completely disappear and wrist watches will replace them definitively!” In 1915, the London company officially changed its name to Rolex Watch Co. Ltd. It switched to “Rolex SA” about five years after that.

Improvements in precision were the hallmark of Rolex throughout the early period, yet Wilsdorf was never satisfied. He strived to make Rolex watches more useful, accurate and stylish, for every setting.

By 1908 the new name of Rolex started to appear on watches such as this ladies 9K gold trench-style bracelet watch that sold for about $417 plus buyer’s premium in 2012. Image courtesy: Fellows and LiveAuctioneers

In 1926, Rolex introduced the Oyster, the first watch that was completely waterproof. The Oyster Perpetual, introduced in 1931, was not only waterproof but also the first self-winding watch. The Tudor, a more affordable watch, debuted in 1952. The Submariner, a watch certified to be waterproof to 200 meters, arrived in 1959.

While a new authentic Rolex starts at about $6,500, Hans Wilsdorf insisted on a more affordable, but no less accurate watch, in his Tudor line introduced in 1952 such as this 1960s era military grade men’s watch that recently sold for $750 (without buyer’s premium). Image courtesy: Rare Treasures and LiveAuctioneers

Along the way, Rolex unveiled vast improvements such as the “Just in Time” automatic date/time movement in 1945, and the Cyclops view window over the date function in 1954, created in part to accommodate Wilsdorf’s nearsighted wife.

Since the beginning, Hans Wilsdorf was obsessed with attention to detail, and his wristwatches reaped the benefits of his toil. He insisted that the name Rolex be the definition of perfection itself. Because he aimed high and hit his target, Rolex resultedly became a target for counterfeiters.

The first clue to authenticity, according to Rolex experts, is the weight of the watch itself. Rolex watches are forged from 904L stainless steel, which has a higher concentration of nickel, copper and chromium to provide higher resistance to corrosion and wear. Most Rolex watches that are not factory-made will use a lower-grade 316L steel and will feel much lighter, like the Tudor model that was intended as a more affordable option.

Factory-made Rolex watches have markedly smooth sweep motions of the second-hand dial; they don’t stutter or shake with each movement (the Oyster quartz watch is an exception). The crystal lens of the Cyclops will be magnified no less than 2.5 times, completely filling the lens itself, and it is made as one piece, not two. Genuine Rolex products should have no imperfections of any kind, in any detail. The etchings, stems, fasteners, lettering, watchbands, caseback, crystal bezel and even the raised edgings around the watch face should be flawless. The manufacture of every component should be crisp, clear and precise.

Rolex watches also have a model number, which is placed behind the 12 o’clock clasp, as well as a serial number, typically located behind the 6 o’clock clasp. The engraving “Original Rolex Design” should appear above the model number. Watches dating from 2002 or later feature a small coronet, hardly visible, that is laser-etched under the “6” on the dial.

If you aren’t sure whether a Rolex watch is factory-made, and it isn’t possible to place it next to a confirmed authentic example prior to completing a purchase, the next best thing is to heed the expert advice to “buy the seller first and then the watch.”

Hans Wilsdorf died in 1960 at the age of 79 and gave 100% ownership of Rolex to the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. This nonprofit operates the company, using all proceeds strictly for humanitarian, philanthropic and educational purposes in and around Geneva to include “…food banks, elderly charities, scholarships, [and] school prizes with a special emphasis on the reduction of individual excessive debt,” according to its website.

Bulgari and Cartier shine in May 26 designer jewelry sale

Don’t ask if you deserve it. Of course you do. You are worthy and yes, you can and should have nice things. On May 26, starting at 9 pm Eastern time, Jasper52 will present 362 ways to reward yourself through its Designer Jewelry & Watches sale, featuring pieces from storied brand names such as Piaget, Bulgari, Van Cleef & Arpels, Cartier, Tiffany & Co., David Yurman, Chanel, and many more.

Limited edition Roberto Coin Nemo cuff bracelet, estimated at $23,000-$28,000

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

LEGENDARY WATCHMAKER AUDEMARS PIGUET

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak automatic quantieme perpetual calendar octagonal wristwatch with moon phases in solid platinum, which sold for $256,000 at Morphy Auctions in December 2020.

Many people have probably never heard of the luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet, let alone own one of its products – but make no mistake: the venerable Swiss-based firm has been wowing users and collectors for nearly 150 years, from its launch in 1875 until the present day.

The company was founded by Jules Louis Audemars and Edward Auguste Piguet, childhood friends who reconnected when they were in their twenties, as both had entered the business of watchmaking. Early on, Audemars was creating complex watch movements for other manufacturers, such as Tiffany & Co., and Piguet was specializing in the regulation of watch movements.

The two men partnered in 1875, with Audemars in charge of production and technical tasks and Piguet in charge of sales and management. In 1881, Audemars Piguet et Cie was officially founded, with operations based in the Swiss village of Le Brassus. From that point forward, Audemars Piguet was an industry innovator, introducing the world’s first minute repeating movement for wristwatches (1892), the first skeleton watch (1934), and some of the thinnest watches in the world, such as the 1986 automatic tourbillon wristwatch, the Calibre 2870. But in the 1970s the firm developed what would become its signature line of wristwatches for decades to come: the Royal Oak.

Audemars Piguet 18K rose gold perpetual calendar chronograph watch, one of 100 made to benefit a charity. It sold for $28,290 at GWS Auctions in October 2019.

“Watch collectors in the know will tell you when they think of Audemars Piguet, the words Royal Oak come straight to mind,” said Tyler St. Gelais of Jones & Horan, the New Hampshire-based auction house specializing in antique and vintage watches, clocks, jewelry, and coins. “The Royal Oak was designed by Gerald Genta, the famed designer for Audemars in the 1970s. It is considered by most to be the first luxury sports watch. Genta designed the Royal Oak to look like an antique diving helmet, with its visible screws and octagonal faceted bezel.”

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak offshore men’s watch, which sold for $25,000 at Laguna Beach Auction House in January 2019.

Today the Royal Oak is considered a classic, but it wasn’t the instant success many believe it was. “Its launch coincided with the start of the age of quartz watches, which saw the dominance of Swiss watchmaking brought to its knees,” St. Gelais said. “Over an 18-year period, from 1970 to 1988, 1,600 watchmaking firms collapsed, to just over 600 total. During that time, many makers banded together to create quartz movements to compete with the Japanese, but the effort was futile and many longstanding companies either closed their doors or merged to create more stable conglomerates. This gave rise to the Swatch group, among others.”

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore 11.5-carat diamone men’s wristwatch, which sold for $26,432 at Estate Jewelry Auctioneers in December 2019.

Audemars, keeping true to form, saw quartz as a fad and kept working on incredibly intricate and complicated mechanical movements. They knew great watches weren’t just about timekeeping but the romanticism of a truly mechanical piece set to one purpose, versus the soulless tick of its battery counterpart. During the late 1970s, at the height of the quartz crisis, Audemars released the first automatic perpetual calendar, considered by most to be the epitome of complication. This watch was able to adjust from long months and short months, as well as adjust itself for leap years every four years. If the watch were able to run indefinitely without the need of repair or fresh oil, it could do so for 100 years.

Ladies’ Audemars Piguet Royal Oak stainless steel wristwatch, which sold for $7,475 at BK Auctions in March 2019.

In terms of market value, Audemars watches are “all over the place,” St. Gelais said. “The entire watch market has been in a free climb in price since the mid-2000s, which has seen early Royal Oak models from the ‘70s go from stainless models below $20,000 and some two-tone models from below $10,000, to stainless models regularly selling for prices in excess of $75,000 and two-tone models in excess of $50,000. On the flip side, a plain hour minute dress watch from the 1950s through ‘70s or ‘80s has plummeted in value, with prices in the $1,500-$3,000 price range, making them easily accessible to most collectors.”

Unauthenticated Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore men’s watch, which sold for $2,737 at Rare Treasures in April 2020.

These changes in value are not limited solely to Audemars Piguet. “Folks are looking more toward sports watches today in larger sizes, whereas dress models from years gone by are just not desirable in today’s market,” St. Gelais pointed out. “This is true for the other members of the ‘Holy Trinity’ – Vacheron & Constantin and Patek Philippe. For the future, I see no limit to the vintage original Royal Oak models, with collectors viewing these pieces as wearable art. The sky is the limit, with smaller dress models likely to stay affordable to the average collector for years to come.”

Luxury jewelry auction Aug. 11 features famous names

From iconic Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra and Cartier Panthere jewelry to fine Patek Philippe and Rolex watches, the Jasper52 auction titled Fine Jewelry Inspired by the Las Vegas Show features the best of the best in luxury jewelry, watches and fashion. All items in the Aug. 11 auction are sourced from dealers who exhibit at shows in Las Vegas.

Patek Philippe Nautilus 4700/4 men’s watch. 27mm 18K gold case and gold stationary bezel, quartz movement. Estimate: $151,000-$181,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Variety of luxury watches presented in Jasper52 auction July 10

NEW YORK – Forty-nine luxury wristwatches and a dozen assorted lots of gold jewelry by renowned designers comprise an online auction that will be conducted by Jasper52 on Wednesday, July, 10. From Jaeger-LeCoultre to Bulgari, Rolex, Omega and more, these creators continue to create watches with timeless styling and precision.

Omega Speedmaster chronograph automatic men’s watch, 2000-2010, with its original box and warranty, original steel bracelet. Estimate: $1,800-$2,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Fine jewelry, watches highlight Jasper52 auction May 29

More than 600 lots of fine jewelry, watches and decorative art are offered in an online auction taking place Wednesday, May 29, through Jasper52. Names synonymous with the highest quality design and craftsmanship are presented: Tiffany & Co., Buccellati, Rolex and Jaeger-Lecoultre, to name a few.

Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., 18K ring with 2.06 heart-shaped diamond and 14 round diamonds weighing approximately 0.28 carats, 1960s. Estimate: $34,000-$41,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Miami Beach Antique Show brings auction to Jasper52 March 30

On March 30, Jasper52 will present an auction loaded with choice items exclusively from the prestigious Miami Beach Antique Show. From iconic Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra jewelry to an exquisite museum-quality clock and garniture set, this special online auction features only the best in jewelry, watches, decorative art and fine art.

Patek Philippe women’s 18K rose gold and diamond Twenty~4 quartz wristwatch, ref. 4908/11R. Estimate $23,000-$28,000. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

63 Rolex models offered in luxury watch auction Oct. 24

Watch collectors and anyone desiring a luxury timepiece should peruse the Jasper52 auction catalog of premium designer wristwatches that will be sold Wednesday, Oct. 24. The online auction features the most sought-after names in watchmaking such as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, LeCoultre and Rolex, many in 18K gold.

Rare Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date in Florentine finish, 18K yellow gold with 18k tellow gold bracelet, ref.1502, made 1953-1963. Estimate: $18,000-$22,000. Jasper52 image

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Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Great times ahead for Jasper52 luxury watch buyers July 11

Nearly 200 authentic Swiss-made luxury watches are being offered in a Jasper52 online auction that will take place Wednesday, July 11. More than half of the auction catalog is devoted to Rolex watches, from vintage to contemporary models that are like new and in their original boxes.

Rolex Submariner, Oyster Perpetual date, stainless steel case, automatic movement, with original Rolex box, papers and cloth. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.