A unique Omega Speedmaster for sale at Omega Speedmaster 50 auction – Christie’s New York 15 December 2015

Flown to the moon: A unique Omega Speedmaster

A watch that accompanied Captain Ron Evans, one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon, aboard Apollo 17 — a unique opportunity for collectors to own a flown Speedmaster from the Apollo missions

Omega. An exceptional, highly attractive and historically important Apollo 17 privately flown stainless steel chronograph wristwatch and flown metal attachment from the personal collection of astronaut Ron Evans. Certified and signed. Manufactured in 1970. Estimate on request. This lot is offered in the Omega Speedmaster 50 sale on 15 December at Christie’s New York

Captain Ron Evans was one of 19 astronauts specially selected by NASA in April 1966 as part of ‘Astronaut Group 5’. Evans was serving in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific at the time, flying fighter aircraft in Vietnam combat operations from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ticonderoga.

Born in Kansas in 1933, Ronald E. Evans received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Kansas before joining the U.S. Navy. Between 1961 and 1962 he served as a combat flight instructor, and went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1964.Ronald_Evans-2

After being selected as member of the astronaut support crews for the Apollo 7 and Apollo 11 missions, and as backup command module pilot for Apollo 14, Evans made his first journey into space during Apollo 17, which launched on 7 December 1972. He was chosen as command module pilot, alongside crewmates Commander Eugene Cernan, who was making his third and final spaceflight, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison H Schmitt, who became the first scientist to fly in space.

As the last scheduled manned mission to the Moon, Apollo 17 broke several records set by previous fights, including longest manned lunar landing flight, largest lunar sample return, and longest time in lunar orbit. In addition, important tests were undertaken for the continued development of space processing, which exploits the unique environment of a space laboratory to research, develop, and manufacture products.

Among these tests was one named ‘Apollo 17 Heat Flow and Convection Experiments’, which was carried out by Evans while on his way to the Moon, using the watch offered here, along with the metal part it was attached to. Given that all other known Speedmaster watches flown in space during the Apollo missions are property of NASA, this watch offers collectors the only opportunity to own a flown Speedmaster from the Apollo missions.

The historically important Apollo 17 privately flown stainless steel Omega Speedmaster chronograph wristwatch from the personal collection of astronaut Ron Evans, alongside other elements included in this lot, such as the strap, the flown metal attachment used during the experiments, Apollo 17-flown Fisher AG 7 space pen, photographs and letters of verification. This lot is offered in the Omega Speedmaster 50 sale on 15 December at Christie’s New York

Cernan and Schmitt landed on the Moon in the Taurus-Littrow Valley shortly before 3pm EST on 11 December, before spending just over three days on the lunar surface. Above them in the Command/Service module, Evans would set a record for the time he spent alone in lunar orbit.

One of the most exciting discoveries of Cernan and Schmitt’s time on the Moon’s surface took place on day two of exploration. Nearly 9 km away from the Lunar Module, they came towards a crater that they named Shorty, in which they found an unusual and surprising orange soil literally underneath their feet.

Noticeable against the grey debris from the surface that surrounded it, it was later discovered that the orange soil was titanium-rich pyroclastic glass believed to have been deposited billions of years ago. This ultimately proved that the valley had previously witnessed a large eruptive fire.

On December 14, the spacecraft began its descent back home to Earth. Before the astronauts began their return, however, Cernan and Schmitt left behind a plaque engraved with the signatures of the three astronauts and President Richard Nixon. It read: ‘Here man completed his first explorations of the Moon December 1972, AD. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind.’

A detail of the photograph of Ronald Evans during his spacewalk on the way home from the Moon — and wearing the watch and strap shown above — which is offered as part of this lot in the Omega Speedmaster 50sale on 15 December at Christie’s New York
During the trip home, Evans had to retrieve film canisters from cameras mounted in the equipment bay at the rear of the spacecraft. To do this he was required to perform a spacewalk that lasted for one hour and six minutes, the last ever conducted in deep space. An original black and white photo released by NASA on 27 December 1972 shows Ron Evans wearing the watch strap offered with this lot on his left arm while working outside the spacecraft. This is also a unique opportunity to own one of the NASA-issued velcro straps used during the Apollo missions, as others were returned to NASA.

After 301 hours and 51 minutes in space, Evans and his crewmates returned to Earth on 19 December 1972. The Command Module landed in the Pacific Ocean, some four miles from the designated the recovery ship — the U.S.S. Ticonderoga, the aircraft carrier on which Evans had served four tours of duty. Fifty-two minutes after landing, Evans, Cernan and Schmitt were safely on board, having been retrieved by a recovery helicopter.

Once back on terra firma, Ron Evans took a portable hand engraving tool and inscribed the Speedmaster watch shown here, and the black metal attachment used in the experiment. On the reverse of the watch, he etched ‘FLOWN IN C.S.M. TO THE MOON’ and ‘APOLLO 17’ and his signature. On the edge of the watch he engraved ‘HEAT FLOW EXPR’ and ‘6-19 DEC 1972’. In addition, he etched directly on the metal piece that it was ‘glued to OMEGA watch’ for the experiment.

Left: Detail of the case back. Right: Detail of the side case engraving
Left: Detail of the case back. Right: Detail of the side case engraving

Evans went on to serve as backup command module pilot for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, which joined the United States and Soviet Union in an orbital mission, before retiring from the United States Navy on in 1976 after 21 years of service. He remained active for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program and as a NASA astronaut, and was a member of the operations and training group within the astronaut office that was responsible for launch and ascent phases.

He eventually retired from NASA in March 1977 and became a coal industry executive. As a distinguished astronaut and aviator, he was presented with a number of awards including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1973, the Johnson Space Center Superior Achievement Award in 1970, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal in 1973, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the Navy Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing service in 1966. In 1983, Evans was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame. He passed away in April 1990 at 56 years of age. Seven years later, Ronald Evans was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

The watch offered in the sale is accompanied with signed letters from Jan Evans (Ron’s wife) certifying that the stainless steel OMEGA Speedmaster, the watch strap and the small black metal piece were flown to the Moon and used by her husband on Apollo 17 in December 1972; a colour photograph of the OMEGA Speedmaster fixed on the heat experimental equipment; an original black and white photo signed on the back by Ron Evans of his EVA on December 17 1972; and a colour version of the same image.

Additionally, the watch is accompanied by the Apollo 17-flown Fisher AG 7 space pen from the personal collection of astronaut Ron Evans. It is marked with the NASA numbers SEB 12100051-204 and SN 1131. This pen was specially designed by Paul C. Fisher (Fisher Pen Company) for NASA and could be used in any position, on any surface, underwater or in conditions of weightlessness thanks to its pressurised ink. It, too, is accompanied with a letter from Jan Evans.

The Ron Evans Gold Conquest

Omega. An exceptionally important and unique 18k gold chronograph wristwatch with bracelet, certification letter and box, made for astronaut Ronald E. Evans. Signed Omega, Speedmaster, Professional, no. 1007, Movement no. 27’769’532, case ref. 145022 69, manufactured in 1970. Estimate: $40,000-80,000. This lot is offered in the Omega Speedmaster 50 sale on 15 December at Christie’s New York
Omega. An exceptionally important and unique 18k gold chronograph wristwatch with bracelet, certification letter and box, made for astronaut Ronald E. Evans. Signed Omega, Speedmaster, Professional, no. 1007, Movement no. 27’769’532, case ref. 145022 69, manufactured in 1970. Estimate: $40,000-80,000. This lot is offered in the Omega Speedmaster 50 sale on 15 December at Christie’s New York
As a commemorative gesture to a number of NASA astronauts following the successful Apollo 11 mission, OMEGA produced a special limited edition wristwatch with a solid 18k gold dial, case, and bracelet. The watches are only produced in 1,014 examples, where 26, numbered 3 to 28, were offered at an astronaut banquet in Houston on November 25, 1969.

The appreciation dinner was attended by astronauts that were on duty at the time, and three watches were awarded posthumously to the crew of Apollo 1. Solely for the astronauts’ special timepieces, the case backs were engraved: ‘to mark man’s conquest of space and time, through time, on time’, with the name of the astronaut and his mission.

The watch above is engraved number 1007 and features this important case back, made especially for Ron Evans to commemorate his efforts on the Apollo 13 mission. Watches such as this and numbered 1001 to 1008 were presented in 1972 and 1973 to those astronauts who had not yet accomplished a space conquest in 1969, namely missions 14 to 17.

Christie’s New York: Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu couché sold for $170 mln

Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu couché

The defining masterpiece of Modigliani’s art, this life-affirming work is a lesson in erotic education — offered as part of the curated sale The Artist’s Muse on Monday 9 November at Christie’s New York

Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu couché is one of the great, undisputed facts of his extraordinary life and tragically brief, but brilliant, artistic career. It is one of the defining masterpieces of his work: a seamless fusion of classical idealism, sensual realism and modernist invention. It is a work that reaches the lofty heights of Modigliani’s long-held ambition to create a sublime sculptural icon in the form of a woman ­– what he called a ‘column of tenderness’ – while acknowledging the gritty reality of his bohemian life as an impoverished émigré eking out an existence in a poor district of Paris.

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Realistic enough to seduce, yet stylized to the point that it stands as an idealized vision, Nu couché is no portrait, but rather a great artist’s paean to idea of the beauty of life itself. It is one of the finest and most admired of an extraordinary series of joyous, sensual, erotic and life-affirming nudes. Modigliani painted Nu Couché in an intense spate of creativity from the winter of 1917 onwards. It was, by all accounts, the product of several hours of intense, feverish work painting ‘orgasmically’, according to the painter Tsuguharu Foujita, in a small, poorly furnished room, alone with his model, two chairs, a couch and a bottle of brandy during what was probably the worst year of the Great War. It is a defiant life-affirming ‘yes-saying’ to life made directly in the face of great personal adversity during one of the darkest and most traumatic periods of the 20th century.


 The Artist’s Muse: A Curated Evening Sale 

New York, 9 November 2015, Sale #3789

[All sold prices include buyer’s premium]

24 lots sold

Total: $491,352,000/ £325,830,239/ €455,184,844

71% sold by lot 

34 lots offered

£0.66= $1 / €0.93=$1

87% sold by value



Estimate ($)

Price Realized



Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), Nu couché, oil on canvas, Painted in 1917-1918


Estimate on request






Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Nurse, oil and Magna on canvas, Painted in 1964


Estimate on request






Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Thérèse, carved miro wood, gold gilding and copper nails, Executed circa 1902-1903; unique


$18,000,000 – $25,000,000






Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Homme à l’épée, oil on panel

Painted on 25 July 1969

Estimate on request






Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), L’homme à la pipe(Étude pour un joueur de cartes) (recto); Père…, watercolor on paper (recto); pencil on paper (verso), Painted in 1892-1896 (recto); Drawn in 1890-1892 (verso)


$18,000,000 – $25,000,000






Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), James Lord, oil on canvas, Painted in 1964

$22,000,000 – $30,000,000






Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), Femme nue couchée, oil on canvas, Painted in 1862


$15,000,000 – $25,000,000






Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), Im See badende Mädchen, Moritzburg, oil on canvas, Painted in Moritzburg, 1909


$10,000,000 – $15,000,000






Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Jeune homme à la fleur, oil on canvas, Painted in Tahiti, 1891


$12,000,000 – $18,000,000






Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Crying Girl, porcelain enamel on steel, Executed in 1964

$7,000,000 – $9,000,000





Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. 

Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits.


Related Sale Sale 3789
The Artist’s Muse
November 9, 2015
New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Christie’s: Why Collectors Love Chronographs

Why Collectors Love Chronographs

Why do both experienced and new watch collectors love chronographs? Here, we examine the appeal of this most sought-after complication.

If you take a look into the collections of both seasoned collectors, and that of those just getting started with watches, you’re bound to find at least one chronograph. It’s just one of those complications that has a truly universal appeal, and with good reason. When one wears such a piece, they know that what’s upon their wrist has style, boasts a significant amount of mechanical complexity, and is greatly useful in a multitude of applications. Just in time for Christie’s Watch Shop Chronographs Sale, we reflect on five of the reasons why collectors love chronographs.

Aesthetic Appeal

Some like to joke that they find themselves glancing down at their watch several times each hour, but not once is it to actually check the time. This comes back to the initial reason why most get into watches in the first place today — the pure aesthetic appeal. Through the use of two or three subdials, chronographs possess a certain balanced, symmetrical look that those conscious of thoughtful and purposeful design certainly appreciate. Additionally, since chronographs have seen a number of applications in professional racing over the years, many will associate the look of a watch like the Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue with the gauges within an instrument cluster that you might see on a classic car.



One thing that horologically-inclined individuals of the modern era celebrate is that many of the older watches that we so passionately covet were originally designed to be practical, and effectively used as tools. Chronographs are a perfect example of this, and their rich history certainly supports this notion.

For example, take how Louis Moinet produced the first chronograph back in 1816 to track and time the movement of celestial objects, and how Nicolas Rieussec developed the first marketed chronograph so that King Louis XVII could time his beloved horse races. This is similar to how some collectors enjoy timing laps on the race track with a watch of automotive importance, like the venerable ‘Nina Rindt’ Compax from Universal Genève.

Mechanical Complexity

While integrating a stopwatch into a wristwatch might sound like a simple task, this is by no means the case. Assembling and finishing a chronograph is a far more complex process than that of a basic, time-only piece. Collectors are aware of the time and effort that goes into making beautifully complicated watches, which is why chronographs can almost be worn as a badge of honour and an indication of an appreciation for fine watchmaking.

Furthermore, the inner workings of a chronograph can be executed in different ways, namely through the use of column wheels and cams. Although both interpretations ultimately get the job done, a column wheel — which can be seen in the Patek Philippe 3970’s CH-27-70 — is far more demanding to produce, due to the fragility of the teeth. This is reflected in the price, and causes some to choose cam-actuated chronographs, which may not be as smooth to engage, but tend to be more affordable.

A Multitude of Variants

In that the chronograph is somewhat of a ‘family’ of complications, there are a variety of adaptations within the class. ‘Rattrapantes’ or split seconds chronographs allow the user to time multiple events in succession through the use of an additional seconds hand, whereas a ‘flyback’ chronograph, as seen in vintage pilot’s watches like the Breguet Type XX Aeronavale, features a quick reset and start function in order to begin measuring another occurrence of interest. While both are essentially doing the same thing, they do it in their own unique way that is drastically different from a mechanical standpoint. This gives one all the more reason to add more than a single piece to their collection.

Historical Significance

Throughout history, chronographs have graced the wrists of several important figures, and had a significant impact on countless notable events. Omega’s Speedmaster instantly comes to mind, as it was worn during the first Apollo moon mission and played a large role in many tasks and calculations over the course of the momentous feat. Moreover, watches like the Rolex Daytona are most commonly associated with the exhilarating sport of auto racing and the lifestyle that encompasses it. It’s stories like these that allow us to connect with a particular watch on a deeper level, and bring us back to an exciting time of exploration, pushing boundaries, and challenging horological conceptions.

Browse the fine collection of modern and vintage chronographs now available in Christie’s Watch Shop Chronographs Sale. Learn more about chronographs from Christie’s Senior Specialist Eric Wind and International Head of Watches John Reardon by viewing our in-depth video profiles of eight highlights from the sale.

Important watches at Christie’s New York on June 17

New York – Christie’s New York auction of Important Watches on June 17 will offer over 260 vintage and modern timepieces, pocket watches, and pens. Highlights include an exceptional 1903 Patek Philippe Two Train Trip Minute Repeating Split-Seconds Chronograph (Lot 118; estimate: $50,000 – $70,000; one of only three known and fresh to the market), and a unique Patek Philippe Hunter Case Pocket Watch with miniature enamel by famed artist Susan Rohr of Renoir’s Two Sisters (Lot 65; estimate: $120,000 – $180,000). This sale features a special selection of Vacheron Constantin watches, including an Important Single- Button Chronograph, formerly owned by King Alexander I of Yugoslavia (Lot 81; estimate: $40,000 – $60,000). Additional top lots include a rare Patek Philippe Reference 3424 designed by Gilbert Albert and one of only five known to come to market in white gold (Lot 57; estimate: $50,000 – $80,000), an attractive Patek Philippe Reference 2499 Third Series (Lot 185; estimate: $260,000 – 360,000), an extraordinary Rolex Submariner Reference 6538 (Lot 37; estimate $60,000 – $100,000) with a “big crown” in unpolished and original condition, and a group of special vintage Panerai watches (Lots 153, 154, and 155).

The important selection of Patek Philippe timepieces is highlighted by the Reference 2499. The reference 2499 was introduced to the market in 1950 and is acknowledged to be one of the most coveted wristwatches of all time. The Reference 2499 perfectly embodies Patek Philippe’s technological and artistic know-how, and has greatly inspired and influenced the configurations of many important wristwatches.

Moreover, this particular Reference 1518 (Lot 48; estimate: $200,000 – $400,000) was last seen at auction in 1987, marking its appearance at auction on June 17 the first time it will appear in public in nearly 30 years. The full crisp lugs and short signature on the beautiful dial make this an extremely desirable watch for the discerning collector.

In 1970, Rolex introduced two new Cosmograph Daytona models; the Reference 6262, which was manufactured for only one year in 1970, and the present example Reference 6264 (Lot 40; estimate: $80,000 – $120,000), manufactured for three years in 1970 – 1972. Both were produced in stainless steel, and only the Reference 6264 appeared on the international market also in 18k and 14k gold. Fresh to the market, the present watch is of great interest to collectors not only because of its rarity, but also because of the Tiffany & Co. signature on the dial. This remarkable example is made even special because of its original condition.

Purchased by the father of the current owners circa 1963 during a layover in Dubrovnik, the present Vacheron Constantin wristwatch (Lot 81; estimate: $40,000 –$60,000) has never before been offered at auction. In remarkable overall condition given its history, the watch is fascinating from both horological and historical perspectives. Single button chronograph wristwatches were first produced during the golden age of watchmaking in the 1920s and 30s. A true classic at the time and even today, their elegant lines and understated quality make them a trophy for any passionate collector. The original owner of the watch was King Alexander of Yugoslavia (December 16, 1888-October 9, 1934), who lived during one of the most turbulent times of the 20th Century. The provenance is confirmed in a letter from Vacheron Constantin. As a young man, Alexander spent time in Geneva schooling and one can only speculate that years later his early experiences in Switzerland could lead him to buy a Vacheron Constantin, which was known as the preferred timepiece of royalty. The present example presents a unique opportunity to collectors to own such a marvelous wristwatch with royal provenance.