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From a record-breaking watch sold by renowned horologist George Daniels to a Panerai Radiomir used in World War II and an amazingly rare 13th century chess piece, it’s treasures abound at auction houses around the world. Here are some of the hottest lots sold recently.
1. George Daniels’ Space Traveller I
Auctioned by Sotheby’s in London for £3.6 million/RM18.4 million.
Setting a world auction record for a timepiece by an independent watchmaker, George Daniels’ legendary Space Traveller I also achieved the highest price for a watch at auction this year. This is the most revered of the 23 pocket watches made by the world-renowned horologist, and is often referred to as ‘the most important English watch of modern times’. Daniels completed the Space Traveller I in 1982 to commemorate the 1969 American moon landing, building it with both solar and sidereal time, equation of time, phases of the moon, and utilising his famous independent double wheel escapement.
2. Panerai’s The Rösel Radiomir
Auctioned by Artcurial in Monaco for €110,500/RM520,843.
This rare Radiomir dating from the 1940s is an exceptional Panerai diver’s watch that was formerly the property of Helmut Rösel, a frogman of the German navy during World War II. The 46mm timepiece, which features a mechanical 618 calibre with 17 jewels, a steel case, and a military strap, was accompanied by a commando compass, a military decoration, and Rösel’s combat swimmer badge. More personal effects included with this lot were a diver’s logbook of the period that documented the evolution of the young soldier’s military career and the various missions in which he participated, an original photograph, and two of his handwritten letters.
3. A Lewis Chessman
Auctioned by Sotheby’s in London for £735,000/RM3.8 million.
Carved from walrus ivory and measuring just 8.8 cm, it’s incredible to learn that this star lot of Sotheby’s Old Master Sculpture & Works of Art auction was purchased for £5 by an antiques dealer in Edinburgh in the 1960s. As one of the most famous chess pieces to have survived from the 13th-century medieval world, this is the first additional piece to have been found since the initial discovery of the Lewis Chessman hoard in northern Scotland around 1831. This piece – one of four Warders of the 93-piece hoard – is thought to have originated from Trondheim, in Norway. There are now only five pieces whose whereabouts remain unknown.