HISTORIAN AND WATCHMAKER RELEASING PROTOTYPES, RARITIES AND PIECES UNIQUE
RENÉ RONDEAU IS considered the world’s top Hamilton Electric expert and historian. He’s the author of Hamilton Wristwatches: A Collector’s Guide and The Watch of the Future, which focus on Hamilton Electric watches of the 1950s and 1960s.
“Rondeau is the world’s leading authority on Hamilton wristwatches,” says Jim Wolf, Heritage Auctions director of watches and fine timepieces. “So it’s an important event when Mr. Rondeau opens his collection to the global community of watch aficionados.”
Sixty-four lots from the personal collection of Rondeau – including prototypes, rarities and pieces unique – are featured in Heritage’s timepieces auction scheduled for Oct. 29, 2015, in New York. “It’s the first time these treasures have been offered to collectors,” Wolf says.
The collection was meticulously curated with extensive research, and prototype lots are accompanied by important provenance, including original patent archives, factory inventory records, original photos and letters from the original owners. “Many of these owners were instrumental in the research and development of Hamilton’s ‘Watch of the Future,’” Wolf says, adding that nearly all lots in the auction are featured in Rondeau’s book.
The numerous examples of prototype watches are led by the ultra-rare EM-1. “This was the first electromagnetic prototype ever made in 1952,” Wolf says.
An 18k rose gold Ventura with black dial is the “Holy Grail” for Hamilton Electric collectors, Wolf adds. “This is one of only eight watches known to exist. The rose gold version was only made for the South American market.”
A Hamilton Pacer with a 1958 dedication engraving to future president Lyndon Baines Johnson is offered for the first time at auction. “It is expertly documented with pictures from the dedication event and a photo album showing pictures of Johnson wearing this watch during the 1960 campaign and numerous other events,” Wolf says.
Also being offered is an Altair, one of the most coveted asymmetrical models by modern collectors. The exceptional mint example comes with original band, inner and outer boxes and guarantee form.
A true “piece unique” is a transparent Hamilton 992 pocket watch that Rondeau acquired in the 1980s from the president of Hamilton, John Gelson. It is featured in the opening sequences of the Hamilton films What Makes a Fine Watch Fine (1947) and How a Watch Works (1950).