Record breaking sale at Bonhams Bond Street

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A steel Amagnetique Patek Philippe, complete with box and papers from the original owner’s family set a new record for a watch of its type at Bonhams Fine Watch and Wristwatch sale at New Bond Street London on 4 December. It was sold for £28,750 against an estimate of £10,000-15,000.

This Reference 3417 watch was launched in 1958 with calibre 12-400 AM movement. In 1960 the model was then fitted with a calibre 27-AM 400, right until its discontinuation in the late 1960s.

These types of ‘tool watches’ appeared at a time when radiology was introduced to the medical profession and were popular with doctors in the field because they were said to be impervious to magnetism and, therefore, avoided timekeeping problems. There were so few people in this profession, however, that demand was limited and the watches were discontinued. As a consequence, they are now very rare.

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A stainless steel cushion shaped military divers’ Panerai wristwatch made by Rolex for the German Navy in 1940, with a fascinating story attached, sold for £56,250 having been estimated at £18,000-22,000. This very rare survivor had been in the same family since World War II when it was exchanged by the owner for two packets of cigarettes while he was crossing the Kiel Canal at the end of the conflict.

Panerai watches, originally made in the 1930s for the Italian Navy, had to be resilient under extreme conditions; they also had to be unfalteringly accurate. The watch has an unusual type of lattice engraving, and bears the word “Kampfschwimmer” ("combat swimmers", aka Germany’s commando frogmen).

Finally, a beautiful early Patek Philippe 18ct gold wristwatch from 1940 was sold for £22,500. This was a good example of a watch in exceptional condition-a rare model only in production between 1937 and 1956 – and is distinguished by the elegant look of its Calatrava case with the typical flat bezel.

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