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Bidding for Time
Judd Tully
From the Print Edition:
J.P. Morgan, Mar/Apr 00

(continued from page 2)

For the tradition-minded, a signed photograph of smoky screen legend Humphrey Bogart, elegantly suited and clutching a cigarette (est. $1,500-$2,500), competes alongside a sepia-toned, signed photo of silent screen heartthrob Rudolph Valentino, outfitted in a striped turban for his title role as a desert chieftain in the 1921 film, The Sheik (est. $2,000-$3,000). Despite the period look of the pose, Valentino is sporting a circa 1920 wristwatch.  

On the edgy side, a decidedly amateurish group of unpublished photographs by the late rock icon Jim Morrison, taken during his student days at UCLA, will tempt die-hard fans (est. $1,500-$2,500).  

The sales preview at Butterfield's Sunset Boulevard showroom from March 10 to 12 and the partially illustrated catalogueis available for viewing on-line at Or contact Michael Schwartz, Butterfield's entertainment memorabilia specialist, at (323) 850-7500.   --JT    


AT ANTIQUORUM, DECEMBER 1, 1999 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona (the so-called Paul Newman model), 18K yellow gold with round-button chronograph, registers and tachometer, circa 1970s, $29,900 (est. $25,000-$30,000)   Cartier Santos Chronoreflex with 18K pink gold Cartier deployant clasp, $2,300 (est. $2,000-$2,500)   International Watch Co. Schaffhausen Grande Complication, minute repeating, platinum case with 44 hours autonomy, perpetual calendar and moon phases, 1990, $57,500 (est. $38,000-$42,000)        

AT SOTHEBY'S NEW YORK, OCTOBER 26, 1999 Rolex Oyster Perpetual, 18K gold case, self-winding, calendar wristwatch with moon phases, circa 1945, $82,250 (est. $40,000-$50,000)   Patek Philippe pink-gold perpetual calendar chronograph with date, moon phases and register, circa 1997, $41,400 (est. $30,000-$35,000)   Audemars Piguet platinum rectangular minute repeating, jump hour, circa 1992, $37,950 (est. $35,000-$40,000)    

AT CHRISTIE'S NEW YORK, OCTOBER 26, 1999 Patek Philippe 18K pink-gold perpetual calendar, split-second chronograph with moon phases, 28 jewels, recent, $74,000 (est. $80,000-$100,000)   Audemars Piguet limited-edition (10 pieces), platinum cushion-shaped minute repeating wristwatch with black dial, circa 1998, $40,250 (est. $35,000-$40,000)   Rolex 18K two-color gold rectangular wristwatch with a stainless steel and pink-gold Rolex bracelet and clasp, circa 1938 $16,100 (est. $13,500-$14,500)

Prospective buyers, of course, should not only physically examine and try on the watch they're interested in during the critical pre-sale auction previews, but also request a condition report from the auction house specialist before contemplating bidding on it. The report, more technical than the descriptive auction catalogue entry, will minutely detail the condition of the watch's case, dial and movement. They're the key elements of a watch and largely determine its value. Keep in mind that each lot is sold "as is." "If you're not a seasoned collector," Friedman says, "request a condition report--it's the specialist's best and most honest attempt to describe the watch's condition."  

Next Friedman fishes out a handsome circa 1950 Patek Philippe rectangular-shaped wristwatch. With its applied diamond numerals, platinum case, heavy lugs, and crystal covering the dial, the specimen exudes a masculine elegance. Other attributes, including the triple-signed case, dial and movement, make the watch a hallmark for many collectors and increase the likelihood that it will fetch more at the April sale than the estimated $8,000 to $10,000. The same watch model, cased in more common yellow gold, would not be as sought after, according to Friedman. "Case material has a strong effect on the auction estimate of the piece," he says.  

Rarity is another hot-button factor for determining value in the collecting world, as was evident last June at Antiquorum Auctioneers in New York. A 1965 yellow-gold Patek Philippe watch sporting a perpetual calendar and moon phases--one of only three such watches made--sold for $1.1 million, considerably higher than its $600,000 to $700,000 estimate. The astute seller acquired the timepiece from a Patek Philippe retailer in 1981 for $9,000.  

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