One of Andy Warhol’s prized Patek Philippes and a pair of rare watches made by Cartier’s London workshops during the 1960s and ’70s will headline an upcoming live auction at Christie’s New York on Tuesday.
Few figures in watch-collecting history grab headlines like Warhol, the American Pop artist and pop-culture icon, who amassed an enormous cache of more than 300 watches. They ranged from cheap plastic quartz pieces to the one headed to auction next week, a yellow-gold Patek Philippe Ref. 3448—his most valuable timepiece, according to Christie’s.
Highly coveted by collectors, the Ref. 3448 debuted in 1962 as the first self-winding perpetual calendar wristwatch. Warhol’s was produced in 1977, and he acquired it in New York the following year.
After his death in 1987, the piece was among the 273 lots sold by Sotheby’s New York in the December 1988 sale titled the Andy Warhol Collection Jewelry and Watches, Part II, with proceeds benefiting the artist’s foundation. It realized a price of US$22,000. The piece resurfaced in a 2014 Sotheby’s Geneva event, where it sold to the current owner for CHF293,000. Today, Christie’s estimates it will go for between US$350,000 to US$600,000.
Other highlights at the sale next week include an exceedingly rare platinum Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon, estimated to sell between US$1.2 million and US$2.2 million. It’s among the 107 lots currently on exhibit through Monday during Christie’s Luxury Marquee Week at Rockefeller Center. The sale will feature more than 60 watches from Patek Philippe, dozens of Rolexes, several Audemars Piguet Royal Oaks and pieces by highly sought-after independent watchmakers, including F. P. Journe, MB&F, De Bethune, and Grönefeld.
When it comes to Cartier, the highest price ever achieved for a watch was US$1.5 million for a vintage 1967 Crash sold in an online auction in May 2022. The warped, Salvador Dalí-esque Crash emerged from Cartier’s London workshops, under the direction of Jean-Jacques Cartier, who sought to express the groovy creative zeitgeist of the 1960s in unconventional, avant-garde timepieces.
It was during that same era that Cartier London also created the striking Baignoire Allongée, one of which is going on the block at Christie’s next week with a US$100,000 to US$200,000 estimate. The exaggeratedly elongated yellow-gold Baignoire (which means bathtub in French) dates to 1968 and is signed “Cartier, London.” The signed Jaeger-LeCoultre manual-winding movement is housed in a case measuring 22.5mm wide and 52mm long, making it the largest Baignoire model, earning the moniker “Maxi Oval.” Its crisp white painted dial features the large cursive script signature Cartier London with stylized “explosion” Roman numerals.