Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- A Breguet pocket watch owned by a general who helped Napoleon Bonaparte to power was sold for more than $3 million in a $19 million Christie’s sale of rare timepieces as the Geneva spring auction season revved up.  

The Breguet No. 217, a self-winding timepiece that features a day and month calendar, was first sold in 1800 to Jean Victor Marie Moreau, a general for Napoleon who eventually became his rival, was exiled to the U.S. and returned to Europe to help fight against the French leader. The watch has spent decades in a private collection and was estimated to sell for as much as $1.2 million.

A Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon in pink gold went under the hammer for about $940,000 at the same auction. The timepiece was the brand’s most complicated and most expensive wristwatch ever when it went on sale in 2001.

While Christie’s sold 93 percent of the lots in its auction, rival Sotheby’s only managed to sell 53 percent of the lots in a Geneva watch sale that raised $4 million on May 14. The auction market has been choppy, as last week’s bellwether Impressionist, modern, postwar and contemporary art auctions at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips in New York raised 50 percent less than last year.

A rare 1973 Patek Philippe pocket watch, featuring a repeating perpetual calendar and moon phases, sold for $475,000 at the Sotheby’s watch auction. A Carrera Heuer watch made for Formula One driver Ronnie Peterson went under the hammer for $227,000, more than 20 times the estimate of about $10,000 to $20,000, setting a record for that brand.

Phillips, another auction house, had a sale of watches on May 15 that raised $16 million. Antiquorum, which held an auction of timepieces on May 16, sold a total of $5.8 million.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Matthew Boyle at mboyle20@bloomberg.net, Thomas Mulier, Paul Jarvis

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