Christie’s, Geneva, May 14
Sold for CHF 52,500
With the Wimbledon tournament fast approaching, tennis fever is running high – not least at Christie’s where this delightful and historically interesting watch demonstrated that there’s more to the Reverso than just polo.
Fans of Patek Philippe’s celebrated (and valuable) cloisonee enamel dial watches might recognise the work of Stern Freres at the heart of this particular Reverso, which features a unique tennis player design in light of the fact that it was created as a prize for the French Open tennis tournament – otherwise known as Roland-Garros after the stadium in which it is held (and where the French aviation pioneer regularly played while a student in Paris).
According to Christie’s, the watch may well have been personally presented by one-time world number one tennis star Rene Lacoste to the Czech player Jaroslav Drobny, the multiple Grand Slam winner who took the laurels at the 1952 French Open. Operating the Reverso’s famous flip-over case certainly reveals a facsimile of Lacoste’s signature beneath the name, along with the date of the tournament and a neat engraving of Lacoste’s crocodile emblem which is still used on tennis shirts produced by the firm he founded 75 years ago.
Drobny, who was also an Olympic medal-winning ice hockey player, defected from Czechoslovakia in 1949 while playing in a tournament in Gstaad and subsequently gained Egyptian and then British citizenship.
The watch appeared to be in superb, lightly used condition and represented an exceptional – and highly collectable – example of the enamel dials for which Stern Frères is renowned.