Best of British!
George Daniels Millennium Wristwatch Sets New World Record at Bonhams


An exceptional and rare 1999 Millennium wristwatch by the celebrated independent watchmaker George Daniels topped yesterday's Bonhams Fine Watches Sale in New Bond Street selling for a landmark figure of £519,000, setting a new auction world record as the highest value British made-wristwatch sold. The Millennium also set two new auction world records for the make and the model.

Also the highest value watch to be ever sold by the Bonhams Watches team, the Millennium was in good company with other timepieces achieving impressive results. A Patek Philippe minute repeating perpetual calendar Ref 5074R – 001, one of the most luxurious complications produced by the house, made £375,000, and a Cartier Pebble 'Turtle' wristwatch, one of only two in existence, performed swimmingly, selling for £225,250. All three were offered for the first time at auction.

Meanwhile a perennially popular Rolex Daytona 'Paul Newman', a 1970 6263 reference, realised £269,000 in the first live sale of 2021 for the Bonhams UK team, which had a 95 per cent sell-through rate.

Recognised as one of the 20th century's greatest watchmakers, the late George Daniels was responsible for the revolutionary Co-Axial escapement. After two decades of persuasion, Omega adopted this design and introduced it into select models in 1999. As a celebration, Daniels and apprentice Roger Smith spent three years creating the Millennium wristwatch series of only 48 yellow gold pieces, which they hand-finished together in the 'English Style'. The example sold yesterday to British watch collector Nick Maughan was the ninth watch produced in 1999.

London made 1975 Cartier Pebble 'turtle', sold for £225,250

The 1975 Cartier Pebble 'turtle' was crafted by the firm's renowned London workshops and was the last 'oeuvre' to have been produced with the input of Jean-Jacques Cartier. Only six large Pebble timepieces were made, with just one other featuring the unusual 'turtle feet' lugs of the watch offered by Bonhams.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5074R-001, sold for £375,250

The second most valuable watch of the sale, the Patek Philippe Ref. 5074-001, was one of only 100 rose gold variants and was offered by its original owner. At the time of its production its celebrated calibre R 27Q was one of the most complicated of its day, featuring 467 parts, and noted for its minute repeater with high tone and low tone 'Cathedral' gongs.

Jonathan Darracott, Bonhams Global Head of Watches, said: 'We are thrilled with yesterday's results, especially, of course with the George Daniels. Personally, seeing the Millennium project from its inception to this result, with new auction world records being broken, is a great pleasure and an indication of the strength of interest in world-class craftsmanship creating unusual and exceptional items.

The breadth of the sale and the resulting sell-through rate also shows how strong the London watch market is."

This Fine Watches Sale at Bonhams New Bond Street was a boutique auction offering a curated selection of circa 50 timepieces, representing the finest horological marques. Other highlights included:

F.P. Journe. watch Centigraphe Souverain Sport, Ref: No.072-CTS, circa 2012, another offering from an independent watchmaker, this was a lightweight aluminium variant of the celebrated Centigraphe, which sold above its top estimate, selling for £72,750.

A second F.P. Journe also proved popular in the saleroom, doubling its pre-sale estimate. The Tantalum Chronomètre Bleu, Ref. No. 352-CB, purchased in November 2012, was the subject of much interest before and during the sale, finally achieving £44,000. The model is one of very few made from the rare metal tantalum.

The next Watches and Wristwatches sale for the Bonhams UK Watches team will take place in the Knightsbridge Saleroom on 7 September.

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