« Passion for Time »

Christie’s Geneva: Watches representing their time and forming a legendary collection

October 2023

Passion for Time, a historically important and valuable private collection

Christie’s is delighted to announce “Passion for Time”, An Important Private Collection of Watches and Timepieces, the greatest Private Single Owner Collection to appear to market in recent history, assembled over a forty year period. The auction will take place in Geneva on 6 November, including:

The iconic Rolex Ref. 1675 GMT Master that played a defining role alongside silver screen legend Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.

The Grande & Petite Sonnerie No. 1, a stunning creation by a legend in the realm of horology: independent watchmaker Philippe Dufour.

The ultimate George Daniels Anniversary “No. 00”, the first of the four examples made in platinum, unquestionably one of the finest historically important wristwatches ever made.

The 18k rose gold Rolex ‘Gordon Bethune’ Stelline Ref. 6062, one of the very finest surviving examples of this landmark model.

Mohammed Zaman’s passion for watches began over forty years ago when he received two watches, one from his father and another from his uncle. Thereafter in 1978, in celebration of a successful business transaction, Mohammed Zaman purchased his very first Rolex Day-Date in Dubai. The two events sparked a fire in him, who then commenced a relentless quest traveling across the world to attend watch shows and auctions, in pursuit of the world’s rarest watches.

To him, wearing vintage and highly complex watches is akin to having a history book on the wrist, reflecting that these watches took years of research and development to complete, and involved some of history’s most celebrated watchmakers.

Reflecting upon the momentous moments in his watch-collecting journey, Mohammed Zaman concluded: “When I first started my collecting journey over 40 years ago, I had no inclination on where this path would take me. Today I am proud to own such an enviable and unparalleled collection of timepieces, to which I must thank my friends from the watch collecting and auction worlds.”

This Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675 was worn by Marlon Brando when playing Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 classic “Apocalypse Now”. Marlon Brando ‘customised’ this piece by hand-engraving his name on the caseback. In addition, and even more notable, as Petra Brando Fischer recalls: “....he wore the watch on the set of Apocalypse Now in the Philippines, being asked to take it off during filming as it would stand out too much.” She said her father argued that ‘If they’re looking at my watch, then I’m not doing my job as an actor,’ and the powers that be on set eventually relented. Brando went a step further, by removing the bezel as well as the steel bracelet, which he replaced with a sober black strap, and pared down to essentials, allegorically mirrored the character of Kurtz. 

Over two-and-half years in the making, Philippe Dufour’s Grande et Petite Sonnerie No. 1 marked a major milestone in the history of watchmaking. Presented in Basel in 1992, it was the first time this spectacular minute repeater chiming complication had been incorporated into a wristwatch. The 39mm case, with a thickness of just 14mm is amplified by the sober and elegant aesthetic of the white enamel dial with sub-seconds. One of the world’s finest and historically most significant complicated timepieces, it is also the first watch by Philippe Dufour as an independent watchmaker, catapulting him to the status of living legend. This piece is also No. 1 of only four examples made – each unique in yellow, pink, white gold and platinum, all with white enamel dials.

The George Daniels Anniversary No. 00 is crafted by one of the greatest independent watchmakers and is a quintessential example of the finest tradition of handmade horology, the first of its kind and one of only four to have been made in platinum. The George Daniels Anniversary series commemorates the 35th anniversary of Daniels’s invention of the co-axial escapement. Profoundly influenced by 18th/19th century master watchmaker Abraham‐Louis Breguet, Daniels presented his ground-breaking co-axial escapement in 1975, redefining 21st-century horology. Following its launch in 2010, 47 George Daniels Anniversary watches were to be made: 35 in yellow gold; four in white gold; four in rose gold; and four examples in platinum, among which “No. 00”, the very first of the series, epitomises unparalleled legacy.

Introduced at the Basel fair in 1950, the Rolex 6062 introduced a complicated automatic movement, featuring both date and moon phases, fitted for the first time into the brand’s most vaunted design, the ‘screwback’ Oyster case. Available in stainless steel, yellow gold or rose gold case, it also came with a variety of dial designs. The variant offered as part of this Collection, in rose gold, features a dial with eight stars as intermediary hour markers, earning it the sobriquet title Stelline – "little stars" in Italian – among collectors. It is perhaps the scarcest and most sought-after model of all, because only two Rolex models, references 6062 and 8171, showcase a triple calendar alongside a moon phase complication. While the latter sports a snap-on caseback, the former is the screw-in (or ‘screwback’) type, ensuring its waterproofness. This piece, one of the most immaculate and best-preserved 6062s to come to the market, was also once owned by Gordon Bethune, a globally recognised watch collector and the legendary CEO of Continental Airlines.