The recently announced Sotheby’s Masterworks of Time auction is an astounding collection of clocks, pocket watches, and watches. The catalog contains masterpieces once in a while, if ever, found in the public eye, including George Daniels’ first Space Traveler and A. Lange & Söhne’s celebrated “tourbillon of the century” pocket watch no. 41000 with chain and fusée and chronometer escapement, which Emil Lange appeared at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900 (and which I highlighted in Why The A. Lange & Söhne Tourbillon Pour le Mérite Is One Of The Most Historically Important Wristwatches) .
While Sotheby’s just at any point alludes to the late proprietor of this collection as “the collector” because of client confidentiality, SJX recently uncovered him to have been German billionaire Erivan Haub , heir and managing director of the Tengelmann Group , one of the widest retail entities in German-speaking Europe with close to 4,000 entryways in grocery, clothing, DIY, miscellaneous retail, and more.
Haub died in March 2018 at 85 years old, yet it is his most seasoned child Karl-Erivan Haub who is currently making headlines as just a month after the passing of his dad the University of St. Gallen-educated CEO of Tengelmann Group disappeared during a ski visit in Zermatt and is assumed dead. One year on the family’s succession hardships are being publicly bantered in Germany’s biggest papers and financial magazines.
Papa Haub was indeed a collector in the most genuine feeling of the word: his stamp collection worth millions is simply going under the mallet in a series of 30 different auctions more than five years in cities as diverse as Wiesbaden, New York, Zurich, Stockholm, London, and Essen. Haub likewise collected workmanship , which he kept in a dedicated historical center in Washington state. In any case, it is the magnificent horological collection that concerns us.
Sotheby’s Masterworks of Time: maybe the most comprehensive collection of timepieces ever assembled
Haub went through 50 years amassing this collection of timepieces, which in its entirety artistically recounts the narrative of timekeeping from the Renaissance period until today.
“Assembled with a sharp eye and enormous information, this is a genuinely unique collection, formed by long periods of searching for the best instances of their kind,” said Daryn Schnipper, chairperson of Sotheby’s international watch division. “It is a collection assembled by somebody who needed to recount the narrative of time through watches; somebody who realized his subject, confided in his eye, and had a genuine feeling of what was groundbreaking, both as far as technology and of artistry. If you take the scope, the variety, the profundity, the innovation, the early watches, the polishes, he covered all the bases, he investigated every possibility. It’s a collection that is unrivaled in its scope and expansiveness. As far as I might be concerned, Masterworks of Time, as we’ve called it, is totally outstanding amongst other private collections formed.”
The collection contains instances of historically and technically significant pieces spanning 500 years of horology, ranging from early watches with German stackfreeds (spring-stacked cam mechanisms) to twofold dialed astronomical timepieces, great polishes, formed watches, musical and automata pieces, tourbillons, and complicated timepieces.
The watchmakers addressed read like a Who’s Who of international horological giants: A. Lange & Söhne, Abraham-Louis Breguet, Dent, Ferdinand Berthoud, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Frères Rochat, and of course the amazing Dr. George Daniels.
Sotheby’s London uncovered a few highlights of the deal in April 2019, simultaneously announcing that the extraordinary collection of in excess of 800 long-inconspicuous pieces are set to be offered in four dedicated deals at four locations – London, Geneva, New York, and Hong Kong – between July 2019 and October 2020.
Sotheby’s estimates that the collection in its entirety will realize $15-27 million.
Sotheby’s Masterworks of Time: the first George Daniels Space Traveller
The first of the four dedicated auctions happens in London on July 2, 2019. What’s more, it will include 143 of Haub’s fortunes, including the first George Daniels Space Traveler (and a couple of pocket watches by A. Lange & Söhne among others, however not the “tourbillon of the century,” which is scheduled to go under the sledge in Geneva in November 2019).
And to minimize confusion, realize that Daniels – hailed as the first independent watchmaker and maybe the main horologist of the twentieth century – made two pocket watches called the Space Traveller.
The first Space Traveler disappeared from public subsequent to being sold in 1988; the catalog accompanying Sotheby’s George Daniels Retrospective Exhibition on July 18-23, 2006 listed it as offered to antiquarian watch vendor Bobinet in 1982 and afterward in a private collection in Germany (presently we know which one).
Bobinet (or whoever Bobinet immediately offered the first Space Traveler to) sold the watch at Sotheby’s Geneva on November 17, 1988 for 220,000 Swiss francs, a princely total in anybody’s book today, yet considerably more so in the 1980s. A world record for a watch at that time, the purchaser was of course Haub.
Daniels made 23 unique pocket watches during his lifetime, each of which is stand-out because they were manufactured by his own two hands and because each one addressed another technical experiment.
The first Space Traveler was completed in 1982 with the assistance of calculations by Professor Henry Daniels, a mathematician and novice watchmaker. George Daniels named this creation the Space Traveler’s Watch in reference to the 1969 moon landing.
Michael Clerizo writes in George Daniels: A Master Watchmaker and His Art , “Other than the Second World War, the wider world had infrequently impinged on Daniels’ existence, so consumed was he by watches and vintage cars. In any case, one series of occasions he did notice: NASA’s Apollo flights to the moon.”
Daniels crafted two watches to pay tribute to the space explorers, including complications they might have discovered helpful in his estimation – two because he was stricken with dealer’s regret after rather impulsively parting with the first.
Space Traveler II, which Daniels kept in his possession until he died in 2011, is in all probability the most well known Daniels pocket watch. It was sold at the 2012 Sotheby’s auction of Daniels’ possessions , becoming the top parcel when it pounded for £1.33 million/$2.13 million, making it the most expensive George Daniels timepiece ever sold.
It re-set the precedent for a Daniels piece when it sold for £3,196,250 (including commission) in 2017 at another Sotheby’s auction .
The most significant differences between the first and second Space Travelers is that the last includes Daniels’ compact chronograph, which the first one does not.
The George Daniels Space Traveler could well be the biggest highlight of the entire auction series, however I think the A. Lange & Söhne pocket watch tourbillon might give it a run for its cash (I’ll come back to it in a future post). Both will certainly be enjoyable to keep an eye on!
For more information, if it’s not too much trouble, visit www.sothebys.com/en/articles/show stoppers of-time-an-incomparable-watch-collection .
Quick Facts George Daniels Space Traveler I
Case: 63 mm, yellow gold, high quality by Daniels with Daniels pendant and bow, short twofold link chain with gold and blued-steel twofold finished key, straightforward case back
Dial: silver, guilloche, high quality by Daniels
Development: key-injury Lépine caliber, gilt metal, 32-hour power hold, twin spring barrels, twin going trains (one each for mean and sidereal time) driving two Daniels independent twofold escape wheels, locking detent with 3 beds, stainless steel four-arm balance wheel with gold adjusting weights, free-sprung overcoil balance spring
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; yearly calendar, sidereal time, time of moon, moon stage, equation of time
Year of manufacture: 1982
Auction estimate: $900,000-$1.2 million/£700,000-1 million
Auction result: $4,561,407/£3,615,000 (including buyer’s premium)
* This article heralding the deal was first published on June 20, 2019 at Sotheby’s Masterworks Of Time Auction: George Daniels Space Traveler I Among Magnificent, Significant Collection Pieces ; it has been refreshed here to include the sledge price.
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