Paul Ditisheim - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XVIII Hong Kong Friday, May 24, 2024 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Paul Ditisheim
    Year: Circa 1897
    Movement No: 10’257
    Case No: 10’257
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Dimensions: 59mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Neuchâtel Observatory Bulletin des Marches “premiere classe” dated 1916 with envelope, Class A Kew certificate “especially good” awarding 94.2 points dated 1917 and fitted presentation box.
    Literature: The present exampled prominently illustrated in the Reinhard Meis, Das Tourbillon, p. 146-147
    A. G. Randall, Time Museum Catalogue of Chronometers
    F. J. Britten, Old Clocks and Watches, p. 234, pl. 147

  • Catalogue Essay

    Renowned Swiss watchmaker Paul Ditisheim (1868-1945) revolutionized precision timekeeping through his chronometer research and innovations like the affix balance. By 1903, his watches were honored by the Observatories of Kew and Neuchâtel. In 1912, he achieved the world chronometric record at the Royal Kew Observatory. Ditisheim's contributions to horology were immense. In 1892, he established his own manufactory in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Ditisheim tirelessly researched and published works on the effects of atmospheric pressure, temperature, and magnetism on chronometric performance. His pioneering improvements in chronometer design included overcoil springs, Guillaume balances, and pivoted detents. Ditisheim's meticulous refinements propelled timekeeping to new heights, as proven by his record-setting accuracy prizes.

    Ditisheim produced very few tourbillons, with noted horology historian Reinhard Meis documenting merely 8 examples. This incredible rarity, along with its Grether carriage, chronometer escapement, and Guillaume balance, suggest potential Girard-Perregaux origins. Girard-Perregaux pioneered the three gold bridge movement in 1867, a layout exposing the bridges in a mesmerizing display of horological artistry. The innovation won a gold medal at the 1889 Paris Exposition. Ditisheim adopted this architecture for the present tourbillon pocket watch.

    Tested at the Kew Observatory in 1916 and 1917, it received Class A certificates with exceptional scores as shown on the accompanying certifications, affirming its superlative timekeeping. The movement dazzles with arrow-headed bridges over machined plates and steel carriage. A bi-metallic Guillaume balance, pivoted detent, and blued overcoil optimize precision for this exceptionally accurate 1-minute tourbillon.

    The yellow gold hunter case exquisitely captures the spirit of the Belle Epoque with masterful hand chasing imparting artistic beauty. On the front, a central panel depicts winged putti joyfully playing with a bird amidst butterflies dancing over flowers. Garlands of blossoms and verdant foliage frame the idyllic scene. A ribbon bow and vase provide finishing accents, with delicacy and vitality animating the composition. On the reverse, music trophies wreathed in flowers and leaves evoke the sounds that might accompany such an enchanting moment. The floral chasing extends fluidly from the case onto the band, enveloping the entirety with vivacious neoclassical ornamentation. The present example is possibly part of the collection from the Time Museum, Rockford U.S.A as prominently illustrated in the Das Tourbillon book by Reinhard Meis in pages 146-147.

    Further accompanied by the Observartoire Astronomique Bulletin des Marches Neuchatel, Bulletin des Marches from The National Physical Laboratory Teddington, Middlesex UK and its original red leather box. Together, the sublime horology and craftsmanship transcend function, elevating the timepiece into a breathtaking objet d'art that evokes the soaring creativity of the era. The Belle Epoque springs to life in this exceptionally well-preserved 19th century Paul Ditisheim pocket watch, transformed through beauty and visionary artisanship into a captivating ornate treasure.

Property from a Prestigious Family Collection


An exceptionally rare, elaborate and impressive yellow gold detent chronometer three gold bridge tourbillon keyless pocket watch with engraved hunter case, 1-minute tourbillon, small seconds, bulletins des marches and presentation box

Circa 1897
59mm diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

HK$480,000 - 960,000 

Sold for HK$889,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Deputy Chairman, Watches, Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2031

Gertrude Wong
Head of Sale, Hong Kong
+ 852 2318 2045

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XVIII

Hong Kong Auction 24 - 25 May 2024