by Alex Ballmer
When I think about an object showing time without conventional hands, my first thought will rapidly derive to any digital device like my smartphone or computer. In the realm of mechanical watches my perception leans more on beautiful Cathedral, Breguet or Dauphine hands. My narrowed vision should be broadened to the niche group of very unconventional timepieces showing time with original time displays hands. The past Geneva Watch Auction XIII had great examples of these types of watches such as the Audemars Piguet Star Wheel and the Cartier Tank à Guichet. The independent watchmakers are also creating atypical mechanical prowess. I have selected three of those indie gems that tell time differently and that will be offered at the upcoming Hong Kong Watch Auction XII.
Lot 1057 - Harry Winston in collaboration with Felix Baumgartner Opus V
The cradle of the independent boom is often pointed at the Opus epic saga. Before founding his own company (MB&F), Maximilian Busser was the CEO of Harry Winston watches. During his creative outburst at the company, he launched the Opus collection. His goal was to shine a spotlight on creative independent watchmakers by making bold collaboration and stamping these timepieces with the name of the creator. It was a first in the industry and the public was amazed by these unusual watches.
Launched in 2005, the Opus V is one of the most sought-after examples of the Opus series. In collaboration with Félix Baumgartner (co-founder and master watchmaker of Urwerk) the timepiece was a milestone in unconventional satellite concept hour display. The back features a world-first service indicator, reminding the wearer to send their timepiece for service after 5 years of use. Only made in 45 examples, it is a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire such a rare creation from the early years of Félix Baumgartner’s work.
Lot 961 - Urwerk UR–100 V
Fast forward 15 years, Urwerk is now a well-established brand in the watch industry and known for their bold “space travel” design with their special take on time indication. The founders of the company Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei are always pushing boundaries to conceive futuristic timepieces rooted in high-end traditional watchmaking. One of their contemporary creations, the UR-100 V Iron is no exception to the quality and creativity of the Swiss brand. Launched in 2020 the present model was well acclaimed by collectors for its more compact and simplified design while keeping the DNA of Urwerk. The present fresh-to-the-market example is also the first UR100V Iron that is offered at a PHILLIPS auction.
Lot 867 - F.P. Journe Vagabondage II
During the outburst of new talents in the 20th century, F.P. Journe work stood out for his talent and keen eye for innovative input in his movements. Even years after the launch of his brand in 1999, his timepieces have intrigued the public and stood the test of time as collectibles. The vagabondage is a very particular collection that almost never saw the light of day. The story started with a loyal client asking the watchmaker to create a timepiece involving a very specific way of displaying time called “wandering hours”, which would require the watchmaker to build a new calibre from scratch. Afraid of not having the resources to build this unique piece, he asked the client if the watch could be made as a regular series. The client was of course open to this suggestion and even help F.P. Journe in this process by contacting a well-established watch brand to back his project. Unfortunately, this brand pulled back once the watchmaker showed the first prototype. Luckily, the story does not end here, a few years later, an auction house asked him to make a special watch for charity, he reopened his special drawer and made three versions of the Vagabondage I. Of course, collectors were mesmerized by the timepiece and ask the F.P Journe for more.
In 2010 the Vagabondage II was released in a limited edition of 68 pieces in pink gold and 69 in platinum. The present example in platinum numbered 40 is offered in excellent overall condition and is further complete with its full set of accessories.
Browse all the lots of the Hong Kong Watch Auction: XII here.