Posted on: 15 June 2022
Diamonds are Forever: May 2022
In a day full of surprises, the May Auction proved that even in uncertain times, buyers are prepared to bid strongly for lots offering quality and uniqueness.
The top price in the auction came from a rare Rolex ‘Pepsi’ GMT Master wristwatch, discovered amongst an unassuming box of costume jewellery. “Rolex is the most prolific name in the world of luxury watches, and GMT Masters are amongst the most popular Rolex models, so of course we were excited to uncover this watch,” says jewellery and watch specialist Helena Waudby. “However, on further inspection, we realised just how special and rare this model was. When we looked at the serial number, we realised that this watch was made in 1958, just a few years after Rolex launched the GMT Master. GMTs are always popular, but models of this age are very rare, so naturally it drew the attention of watch collectors from across the globe!” On auction day, the bidding was a tough fight between a slew of collectors online and a collector on the phone from the West Midlands, eventually selling to the latter for £9,200 + Buyer’s Premium.
The Rolex GMT-Master was launched in 1955, a time when the commercial air travel industry was flourishing. In response to this, the biggest commercial airline of the 20th century, Pan American World Airways, approached Rolex and asked them to develop a navigation instrument for professionals criss-crossing the globe. Rolex created a timepiece with an innovative fourth hand, which allowed the display of an additional time, with the corresponding number markings on the outer bezel. Pilots used the second time to display Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which led to the name Rolex GMT Master. These watches have distinctive two-tone dials, which divide daylight hours (06:00 – 18:00) and night-time hours (18:00 – 06:00). The bezels were made in a select range of colour combinations, the two most popular being the ‘Coca-Cola’ (which was black and red), and the blue and red ‘Pepsi’ model offered in this month’s auction.
There were further successes in the jewellery section, which boasted some of the top hammer prices of the year so far. Highlights included an Art Deco ruby and diamond ring, which hammered at £7000, an Art Deco diamond brooch which sold for £6000, and a Victorian metamorphic diamond pendant brooch which made £2800.
“This month’s auction has included some of the highest quality jewellery – and some of my personal favourite consignments – of the year so far” says jewellery valuer Helena Waudby. “We had pieces from the most renowned industry names such as Cartier, top quality gemstones such as the luminous pink-red ruby ring, and pieces of exceptional craftsmanship, like the metamorphic diamond pendant. When our clients are considering selling their jewellery, many of them are concerned with whether their pieces are in fashion at the moment, or the time of year in which they are selling, and how this will affect the prices they achieve at auction. But with jewellery, pieces of classic design and good quality never go out of style – our bidders recognise quality when they see it and will dig a little deeper for a piece that they believe is unique and timeless, whether it is ‘in vogue’ or not! This, combined with the precious metal prices which have held steady in the post-pandemic world, make for an explosive combination on the market right now. My advice to those with pieces or collections that they have been on the fence about selling is to capitalise on the market now!”
Works of Art also proved popular, with oil paintings in particular drawing a lot of interest. Top prices went to a beautiful depiction of the River Dee at Llangollen attributed to British landscape painter John Frederick Tennant (1796-1872), which made £2800, and to two studies of greyhounds by an unknown artist which took £1600 and £1500 respectively. “The Dee at Llangollen was a wonderfully evocative picture in great condition by a well-known artist, so it’s no surprise to find it in such high demand” says picture valuer Simon Grover. “The greyhounds on the other hand were by an unknown artist and not it the best of condition, but they exuded fantastic charm and character making them highly desirable. Characterful pictures like these attract a lot of attention in the current market – despite their apparent faults – as buyers search for unique pieces to enhance their surroundings”.