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  • Harry Fane

Not 101 Dalmatians

Christies Geneva staged their well published, single owner sale of 101 vintage Cartier clocks last week. The sale did not do well. Let’s try and view the reality of the situation.

First, this was not the most remarkable group of clocks. Most, if not all, had been purchased at auction in recent years, some for very high prices. Second, the collection had, perhaps, been put together more with an eye for quantity rather than quality and hence, overall, the selection was mediocre barring a few exceptions.

I am not sure how one can form such a large group of vintage Cartier clocks and not have a single mystery clock. This surely is a cake without any icing. As the well regarded vintage Cartier market observer and expert Alain Cartier said ‘you cannot have such a sale without a locomotive to pull the whole train along...a mystery clock would have been the locomotive’. This is absolutely true. But is also true, if one is setting out to build an important collection, it is imperative to seek out good advisors who really know their subject. This collection lacked expertise. Whilst there were some exquisite and important clocks, there was much which was much more functional than artistic.

Whilst these were the faults with the collection itself, the auction was held without any viewings, on-line, in the midst of the Corona virus panic and vast economic fears and frights. This was simply nothing short of horrendous bad luck for the poor owner. Maybe, in normal times, the sale would have done better.

Regardless, there were some surprising prices...lot 101, a beautiful, round, agate clock with pink dial and hands which are a sun by day and a crescent moon by night fetched CHF 300,000. But it was some very ordinary enamel clocks which normally sell for around the $ 10-12,000 mark and which were making around the $ 50 and $ 60,000 mark which created the most surprises. What I found a little inexplicable was the two most important clocks which were photograph frames and clocks combined, failed to sell at all.

Sadly I cannot illustrate too much here but look on line for further enlightenment.

An odd collection, an odd result, at a very odd time.















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