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Rare Richard Mille watch could set a record at Christie’s New York auction

Auction house Christie’s in New York is set to offer up its most expensive watch ever – a limited-edition Richard Mille – alongside rare timepieces, such as ones that once belonged to a former US president and an Apollo 7 astronaut.

The transparent Richard Mille wristwatch, with a complex sapphire case design and sapphire crystal skeletonized tourbillon, is expected to sell for up to $4 million at auction at Christie’s Rockefeller Center on June 10.

One of only 10 editions, the timepiece will be auctioned as part of the “Important Watches” sale that offers high-quality wristwatches “encapsulating the rich heritage of the history of watchmaking,” Christie’s said in a press release.

“We are particularly enthusiastic about offering the Limited-Edition Richard Mille RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire, a remarkable achievement in both pioneering materials and micro-engineering,” Rebecca Ross, head of sale at Christie’s in New York, said in the release.

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Another limited-edition Richard Mille watch, with a diamond-set skull, will be the first of its kind to be brought to auction and is expected to fetch up to $1 million, according to Christie’s.

Also on offer is a rare stainless steel Rolex Daytona wristwatch with a “Paul Newman” dial and bracelet that was owned by late NASA astronaut Walter Cunningham, according to the auction house. It is expected to sell for up to $450,000.

The Rolex Daytona watch was owned by late NASA astronaut Walter Cunningham. - Christie’s Images Ltd 2024
The Rolex Daytona watch was owned by late NASA astronaut Walter Cunningham. - Christie’s Images Ltd 2024

Cunningham, who died last year, was selected to pilot Apollo 7, the first crewed mission of the NASA program launched in 1968 that went on to land humans on the moon for the first time.

An 18-carat gold automatic Patek Philippe, customized by Tiffany & Co. for 36th US President Lyndon B. Johnson when he was a senator is expected to sell for up to $45,000.

Johnson gifted it to Senator Robert Kerr, who then gave it to the grandfather of the current owner – a pilot who had skillfully and safely flown him through a turbulent storm, according to Christie’s.

Former US President Lyndon B. Johnson wore this Patek Philippe wristwatch. - Christie’s Images Ltd 2024
Former US President Lyndon B. Johnson wore this Patek Philippe wristwatch. - Christie’s Images Ltd 2024

“The timepieces offered in this sale transcend mere beauty; they symbolize significant moments in history, from groundbreaking explorations to technical advancements that redefine possibilities,” Ross added.

“Collectors have the opportunity to acquire not just watches, but also pieces of horological innovation that remain sources of inspiration today.”

Selected watches will be on display in Hong Kong from May 24 to 26 before returning to New York, where all the auction items will be on display between June 6 to 10.

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