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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sotheby’s to Auction Watches from Legendary Collections

Sotheby’s to Auction Watches from the Legendary Personal 
Collections of Reginald H. Fullerton, Jr. & Grandfather, Henry Graves, Jr.


17 April 2012 – Sotheby’s is honored to announce that it will offer watches from the celebrated collections of Henry Graves, Jr. and his grandson Reginald ‘Pete’ H. Fullerton, Jr. in a single owner sale on 14 June 2012 in New York. Representing two of the finest private collections of watches ever assembled, Watches from the Collection of the late Reginald H. Fullerton, Jr. and his Grandfather Henry Graves, Jr. will comprise a group of 13 pieces collected by Mr. Graves that have never before been published or appeared on the market, as well as a group of 42 wristwatches and an important Knibb Grande Sonnerie Long Case Clock assembled with incredible attention to condition and documentation by Mr. Fullerton, who followed in his grandfather’s footsteps as a passionate and private connoisseur. 

Highlights from the collections will travel to Sotheby’s Geneva from 10-14 May and to Hong Kong for the opening of Sotheby’s new gallery space from 18-22 May, before returning for exhibition in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning 9 June alongside the various-owner auction of Important Watches & Clocks.

In December 1999, Sotheby’s New York offered The Henry Graves Supercomplication as part of its famed auction of Masterpieces from The Time Museum. The pocket watch, which was commissioned from Patek Philippe by Mr. Graves and features 24 complications, had descended to Mr. Fullerton, who later sold it to the owner Seth Atwood at the Time Museum. In Sotheby’s 1999 auction, the watch sold for a remarkable $11,002,500 – a price that remains the worldwide record for any timepiece at auction.

“We are humbled to have been entrusted with a very personal group of pieces from a family of watch-collecting royalty,” commented Daryn Schnipper, Chairman of Sotheby’s Watches & Clocks department. “Our June auction will offer some of the best examples of the finest references constructed by Patek Philippe, assembled by two members of the most famous patron family in the watch community. The sale includes what is known to-date of the last Graves watches to have descended through this family, each of which has gone unrecorded
in literature and has remained unknown to the public, as well as the entirety of Mr. Fullerton’s impressive assemblage of iconic vintage and modern pieces. Together, this represents what is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for collectors in today’s market. The auction record price for the Patek Supercomplication serves as a testament to this family’s renown, and the lasting importance of their name among connoisseurs worldwide.”

Henry Graves, Jr. & Reginald H. Fullerton, Jr. 
Henry Graves, Jr. (1868-1953) was born into a banking family who lived in Orange, New Jersey. Eventually he joined his father in the financial industry and moved to New York City, where they became one of the country’s most prominent families by the turn of the century. Among his collecting interests, which included paperweights, coinage and Old Master prints, Mr. Graves was most passionate about watches, and over the course of four decades beginning shortly before the start of World War I, he assembled the world’s most important collections of Patek Philippe in private hands.  

Mr. Graves left the majority of his spectacular watch collection to his daughter, who in turn passed the pieces to her son Pete Fullerton (1933-2012). Mr. Fullerton picked up his grandfather’s passion and connoisseur-ship, and assembled a collection of his own that is distinguished for the exceptional condition of each piece. In addition to his thorough record-keeping and personal daily maintenance, Mr. Fullerton presciently insisted that cases and dials not be touched during cleaning and servicing, and that almost all of his watches retain their original accompaniments. The result is a collection that acts as a time capsule, with each timepiece seemingly untouched since its construction – an exceptional opportunity for collectors.

Watches from the Collections

Among the highlights of the timepieces on offer in the June auction is The Henry Graves Jr. Yellow Gold Tonneau Minute Repeating Wristwatch, Patek Philippe, Mvt 97589, Case 605789 (first photo, top of page, est. $600/800,000*). This watch is unique for being the only example made in yellow gold – its mate, made in platinum, is currently housed in the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva – and it bears the iconic Graves Family arms, with the Latin motto Esse quam videri: “To be, rather than to seem”. 

Another highlight of the watches commissioned by Mr. Graves is A Fine and Rare 18K Yellow Gold Split-Second Chronograph Wristwatch with Breguet Numerals, Patek Philippe, Ref. 1436 (pictured left, est. $200/300,000).

Bridging the generations between the two men is A Rare and Important 18K Yellow Gold Trip Minute Repeating Open-Faced Watch, Patek Philippe, which Mr. Graves presented to his son-in-law (Mr. Fullerton’s father) on the occasion of his wedding (pictured right, est. $40/60,000). The piece bears the Fullerton family crest.

The timepieces from Mr. Fullerton’s collection will be led by 11 examples of the most iconic perpetual calendar watches by Patek Philippe from the 1950s to the 1990s, including A Superb 18K Yellow Gold Perpetual Calendar Center Seconds Wristwatch, Patek Philippe, Ref. 2497 that is distinguished by its unusual case design, dial and early number indicating it is possibly the first such example of this well-known reference (see photo above, est. $200/300,000).  In addition, A Fine and Rare 18K Yellow Gold Automatic Perpetual Calendar Wristwatch with Leap Year Indication, Patek Philippe, Ref. 3450 featuring a rare white enamel dial was purchased by Mr. Fullerton at Sotheby’s New York in 1990 (pictured left, est. $200/300,000).

Mr. Fullerton was also a keen collector of modern pieces, which will be highlighted in the sale by a group of seven complicated Breguet wristwatches, complete with their original boxes and papers – a signature of Mr. Fullerton’s attention to detail.

1 comment:

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