Press Release of the 94th Auction on November 12, 2016
After shipping our catalogue, it did not take us long to realise that the 94th auction would not be like any other auction. The number of advance bids as well as the internet bids grew with unprecedented speed - not unexpectedly perhaps, after all it is not every day that a complete museum is put to auction!
The world famous watch and clock museum in Wuppertal had closed its doors in September and the owners had entrusted auctioneers Dr. Crott with the task of auctioning its content. The museum inventory formed the second half of the auction and as soon as the preview opened on Friday, it was obvious that the event had created an enormous interest. Likewise, there were no seats left in the Skyloft at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel when Stefan Muser kicked off the first half of the auction on Saturday - which, with as many as 429 lots, came close to the range of a complete auction in itself, so everyone settled in for a long day.
75 successive Glashütte lots included the first of many auction highlights: lot no. 30, a one-of-a-kind Glashütte hunting case watch with „Grande Sonnerie" and gold lever, movement number 43214 and produced in 1895 by Union Glashütte only two years after the factory was established; at the time the watch was created to demonstrate the skills and competence of the company and it now found its collector for a price of 80,000 euros.
In addition to the pocket watches from Glashütte which were received with the same great interest as usual, it was mostly a number of wristwatches by Lange & Söhne that achieved outstanding selling prices. A red gold Lange & Söhne „1815 Mondphase"  from a limited series went for 21,500 euros, the special edition „Huber" model of an „1815 Kalenderwoche"  in a platinum case sold for 27,800 euros. The next two timepieces also came in platinum cases: The „Große Langematik Gangreserve, Sondermodell Wempe"  was knocked down for nearly 30,000 euros to an overseas buyer, the limited edition „Richard Lange Referenzuhr"  stays in the country for 41,000 euros.
107,000 euros were paid for a white gold Lange & Söhne „Zeitwerk Striking Time"  – the world's first mechanical wristwatch with a jumping numerals display and visible striking mechanism – however, that figure was not even the upper limit but was outdone by the striking „Lange 1 Tourbillon Ewiger Kalender Handwerkskunst" , the ninth of only 15 pieces created in platinum. It was the first time ever that the watch - with a solid hand-engraved white gold dial and hand-painted date numerals - was presented at an auction; the model is undoubtedly a unique homage to traditional craftsmanship and skill and the price for this masterpiece was 298,000 euros.
Take a deep breath and follow us into another era: then came five high price sales of Geneva enamel boxes: „The Flute Playing Shepherd"  and „The Ancient Sacrifice" , both created by Rémond, Lamy & Cie. were purchased for 50,400 and 111,000 euros respectively. „Venus Presenting the Arms of Vulcain to Aeneas" by Jean-Georges Rémon & Compagnie  was knocked down for 86,400 euros, a powder box by Jean-Abraham Lissignol  for a sum of 71,500 euros; „The Moated Castle" by Louis Galpin  changed owners for 61,500 euros.
Valuable boxes were not only produced in Geneva though; skilled craftsmen in Paris and Hanau also knew how to work gold and enamel. Mathieu Coiny‘s box „La Muse Clio"  and the „Bouquet of Summer Flowers" by Charles Colins /Johann Daniel Berneaud  both achieved 55,800 euros each.
Two gold and enamel pocket watches thrilled the audience: Chevalier & Comp. à Gèneve  and William Anthony, London  were knocked down for 54,600 and 93,000 euros respectively.
Before the first half of the auction was drawing to a close with wristwatches by Omega, Patek Philippe and Rolex, there are two more lots that should be mentioned: a rare Vienna coach clock by Mathias Wibral  for 34,100 euros and the sidereal time ship's chronometer created by Paul Ditisheim , which was knocked down for 44,700 euros - a price which tripled the original estimate.
An Omega „Speedmaster Broad Arrow"  dating from 1958 - the first Speedmaster model Omega ever produced - features on the cover of our catalogue; consequently a particularly great deal of attention was paid to this fine timekeeper which was purchased for a price of nearly 40,000 euros, a remarkable result for an Omega watch.
After a gold Patek Philippe timepiece with perpetual calendar and moon phase, reference 3970E  that sold for 72,000 euros, two wristwatches by Rolex were to find new owners just before the break: a steel „Oyster Cosmograph", reference 6263  finally went to a collector in the room for 52,100 euros, despite a large number of advance bids and several interested parties on the telephones. Even higher in price went an early „Cosmograph Daytona", the so-called „Paul Newman Panda Dial", reference 6239 , also in a steel case. The watch achieved nearly 140,000 euros - it seems that steel prices are remaining stable!
Now, on to the watch and clock museum of the Abeler family in Wuppertal. More than 1,000 pieces were presented in 248 lots, which obviously contained a large number of bundles. The range on offer was wide and diversified: pocket watches and wristwatches, wall clocks and grandfather clocks, crucifix and plate clocks and the occasional turret clock were to be expected. However, there were also wooden lathes, cuckoo clocks, oversized movement models in heavy boxes, stacks of metal signs, a two metre long tube of an atomic clock, orchestrions the size of wardrobes, player pianos and the life-size figure of a Black Forest clock salesman - all in all not an easy exercise for the auction team! While some of the most bulky objects remained in Wuppertal, enough pieces had been brought to Frankfurt to let the visitors get a good feel for the museum; as the closing of the museum had caused quite a stir in the region, even a television crew was present in Frankfurt.
Unusually, all lot numbers were to be auctioned without limit and none of the pieces remained unsold - collectors intent on acquiring their very own museum piece and heavy bidding contests ensured that every single lot found its new home.
Concerns that the lots might leisurely move in 10 euro bidding steps were quickly dispelled - there was a massive interest in the collection and the number of advance bids was enormous. Thus it was that even the auctioneer was (pleasantly) surprised when a written bid of several hundred euros was surpassed by an online bid of nearly 10,000 euros - obviously a fierce bidding war had already taken place behind his back on the internet.
Besides, the collectors in the room showed little inclination to waste any time getting their hands on the striking pieces and the bidding moved remarkably fast.
Very early on a plate clock by David Buschmann in Augsburg dating from 1680  and an extravagant baroque-style alarm clock  sold for as much as 45,000 euros each, a Japanese verge pocket watch in a wooden case dating from 1800  achieved a knock-down price of 15,000 euros - five times the original estimate. A bundle consisting of a Black Forest varnished plate clock and two figure automatons  went to a collector for 14,900 euros.
A particularly fine piece was without doubt the „mysterieuse" table clock with a double-walled glass column by Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin  dating from the mid-19th century. It was finally knocked down to a telephone bidder at 34,000 euros.
Excellent prices were reached by the numerous marble and brass pendulum clocks such as the splendid tall and heavy French brass pendulum clock  that sold for 22,400 euros and fortunately travels not too far abroad.
Going to the Far East is a Swiss automaton that plays various Verdi arias: „The Tightrope Dancer"  dating from 1870: 21,000 euros for the dancer with musicians and a waterfall.
The last lot to be mentioned is the marine chronometer  by Hans Abeler, the museum founder's brother, made as a master piece at the German Watchmaking School in Glashuette in 1935 – it sold for 12,400 euros.
A truly memorable „day at the auction" finally came to its end around 8 p.m.