THE FAIRYTALE WATCH COLLECTION HIDDEN IN A BANK VAULT FOR OVER 60 YEARS CHRISTIE'S JUNE 15 SALE OF IMPORTANT WATCHES TO FEATURE EXCEEDINGLY RARE TIMEPIECES FROM THE COLLECTION OF AMERICAN AUTO PIONEER JAMES WARD PACKARD
News-Antique.com - May 25,2011 - New York - Among serious watch collectors and horological aficionados, perhaps no name inspires as much reverence and admiration as that of James Ward Packard (1863-1928), the American auto manufacturer and inventor whose passion for watch collecting is the stuff of legend. Packard 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, in his quest to build an exquisite personal collection of highly complicated, custom-designed timepieces.
This June, Christie’s is honored to announce the descendants of James Ward Packard have entrusted the auction house with the sale of exceptional timepieces from this legendary collection. These extraordinary watches remain in pristine condition, having been stored away in a bank vault for the last 60 years. They will be unveiled for the first time to the public this June, and offered as a key highlight of Christie’s sale of Important Watches on June 15 in New York.
“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,” said 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 stylized 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.”
The James Ward Packard Vacheron Constantin No. 375551
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 20k gold openface chronograph clockwatch for Packard according to his specific instructions, incorporating a customized combination of complications, including trip minute-repeating, grande and petite sonnerie, chronograph, and half-quarter repeating functions (front and back views pictured left).
Beautifully detailed and stamped with Packard’s signature Art Nouveau monogram in blue enamel (detail, page one), this elegant timepiece has survived in impeccable condition and accompanied by a neatly drawn and labeled diagram – likely in Packard's own hand – that reminds the owner how to operate each of the watch’s settings.
Research of Vacheron Constantin’s records show that Packard paid 3,320 Swiss Francs for the piece in 1919, the year of its delivery. With its unparalleled technical innovations, undiminished elegance, and exceptional provenance, this magnificent timepiece is without question