By Brecken Branstrator
A 1926 Art Deco Cartier desk clock featuring a circular burgauté lacquer dial inset with cabochon moonstones, mother-of-pearl, enamel, cabochon turquoises and rose-cut diamonds (estimated to sell for between approximately $130,000 and $190,000)
Geneva—Christie’s Geneva will present what it calls the largest collection of Cartier clocks to ever go up for auction at its Magnificent Jewels sale in July.

The private collection of 101 Cartier clocks was amassed over three decades but represents more than 80 years of clockmaking at the storied maison, featuring examples from the late 19th century until the 1980s with enamel, gemstones and carved hardstones.

It has a pre-sale estimate of between approximately $4 million and $5.9 million, at current exchange rates, with individual estimates for lots starting at about $8,200.

Highlights of the collection include works by master horologist Maurice Coüet. His relationship with Cartier, which started in the early 20th century, helped establish the maison as a leading manufacturer of jeweled objects.

Coüet drew inspiration from magician Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, whom many considered to be the father of modern conjuring, and used the most technologically advanced mechanisms in his designs.

He was best known for his pendules mystérieuses, or mystery clocks, which created the illusion the hands were floating by attaching them to two transparent discs and hiding the mechanisms within the frame.

SEE: More Cartier Clocks Up for Auction in July

Meanwhile, at the same time Coüet was producing his first mystery clocks in early 20th century, Cartier’s first planet clocks were also being created, featuring round or angular cases with two superimposed dials.

The lower dials would usually feature light or dark blue enamel and rotate constantly to represent a day or night sky, and sometimes a crescent moon in diamonds would indicate the hours at night.

The other similar model created at the time featured a central disc with a comet rotating within the dial, while the minutes were read off a pointer that circled along a concentric ring.

Christie’s auction will feature two such clocks, semi-mystery clocks, at the July auction, among many other styles.

The collection will be featured as part of the Magnificent Jewels auction July 1 at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva.

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