Christie’s “Sale of Important Watches” on June 15 in New York will include several exceptional timepieces from the legendary collection of James Ward Packard.The extraordinary watches remain in pristine condition–having been stored away in a bank vault for the past 60 years–and will be unveiled for the first time to the public in the sale.
Packard, the American auto manufacturer and inventor whose passion for watch collecting is the stuff of legend, was among the first of the great watch collectors to work directly with Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin, the world’s most exclusive watch manufacturers.
They helped him in his quest to build an exquisite personal collection of highly complicated, custom-designed timepieces.
One of the great revelations of Packard’s rediscovered collection is documented proof of his design partnership with Vacheron Constantin, the oldest watch manufacturer in Geneva. In 1918, the firm created a completely unique 20-karat gold openface chronograph pocketwatch for Packard.
It was designed according to his specific instructions: incorporating a customised combination of complications, including trip minute-repeating, grande and petite sonnerie, chronograph, and half-quarter repeating functions (above). Its estimated price is up to $500,000.
“In watch collecting circles, this is a true fairytale collection. James Ward Packard is the original icon who inspired generations of serious watch collectors that followed him,” notes Sam Hines, Head of Watches for Christie’s Americas and Asia.
“As a mechanical engineer by training, he had a deep knowledge and passion for the craft of watchmaking that made him uniquely qualified to work directly with the best Swiss watch manufacturers and create completely unique, one-of-a-kind watches that do not exist anywhere else in the world.”
Beyond this, he had a refined sense of style that was heavily influenced by the design motifs of his day, and it is a true delight to see Packard’s personal taste reflected in the elegant, Art Nouveau styling of these timepieces, even down to the stylised monograms stamped on the case backs. These rediscovered watches are likely the last of the great Packard watches to come to market directly from his descendants, and we anticipate intense interest from collectors in the U.S., Europe, Asia and beyond,” Hines said.
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