Christie’s CHF 5.7 Million 101 Cartier Mystery Clock Collection Sale

Christie’s Geneva will be presenting a unique private collection of 101 Cartier Mystery Clocks spanning more than 80 years of clockmaking at Cartier. This collection was created over a period of 30 years, with every clock receiving their rightful place in this once in a lifetime collection.

The pre-sale estimate for the entire collection is CHF 3.9 million to CHF 5.7 million, with individual estimates starting at CHF 8,000. The auction will take place on 1 July at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the relationship between Louis Cartier and master clockmaker Maurice Coüet helped to cement Cartier’s reputation as the leading manufacturer of jewelled objects.

Coüet was inspired by the magician Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin — considered by many as the father of modern conjuring — and incorporated the most technologically advanced mechanisms into his designs, creating works that continue to fascinate and entertain today.

Best known for his pendules mystérieuses, or ‘Mystery’ clocks, with their mechanisms hidden in the frame, Coüet astonished the industry with his use of illusion. In 1973 the Maison acquired one of these marvellous clocks from the art market, a pioneering move which gave birth to what would become known as the Cartier Collection.

Today the Collection is comprised of more than 1,600 pieces of jewellery, watches, clocks and precious objects, and gives the world’s most renowned museums the opportunity to celebrate Cartier creations by featuring them in major exhibitions.

The first planet clocks were made in 1912, constituting round or angular cases with two superimposed dials. The lower dials would usually be crafted from light or dark blue enamel and constantly rotate to represent a day or night sky.

Sometimes, a crescent moon in diamonds served as an indicator to the hours at night. The other model that year featured a central disc with a comet that rotated within the dial, while the minutes were read off a pointer that circled along a concentric ring.

The auction will offer two such examples lot 11 a semi-mystery clock, circa 1920 (estimate CHF70,000-100,000/US$75,000-110,000) and lot 42 a planet semi-mystery clock, circa 1918, maker Maurice Coüet (estimate: CHF120,000-180,000 US$130,000-190,000).

Another very nice example states the obvious: “I do not count the hours if they are not brilliant”, made in 1913 (estimate: 140,000-200,000).


Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had auction sales in the first half of 2019 that totalled £2.2 billion / $2.8 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectables, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.