Sunday, April 4, 2010

Vacheron Constantin- King Fouad I pocket-watch

The King Fouad I pocket-watch sold for a record SFr 3,306,250, making it the most sought-after pocket-watch in this sale and the 5th most sought-after pocket-watch in the world.
This superb piece was presented as a gift in July 1929 by the colony of Swiss people living in Egypt to mark the visit to Switzerland of King Fouad I. This remarkable 18K gold timepiece features a silver dial graced with 12 complications: a split-seconds chronograph with 30-minute register, a perpetual calendar, displays of the date, day, month, leap-year and moon phase, as well as a minute repeater striking three gongs on demand, grande sonnerie striking the hours and quarters on three gongs, and petite sonnerie striking the quarter hours on three gongs. The striking mechanism possesses its own winding train distinct from that of the 46-jewel movement.

Sidetrack history regarding King Fouad I,

Born in 1920, Egypt’s last monarch, King Farouk I was a notorious glutton, kleptomaniac, skirt chaser and, to top it all off, he was extremely whimsical too. He ascended the throne at the age 18 as a wide-eyed idealist all set to always be good only to discard these ideals as time wore on. Psychologically unhinged, he could shed tears seeing a dead bird during a promenade and the very next moment he could grab a cat and smash it smack against the wall. Becoming king, Farouk immediately issued a decree outlawing red cars in his country. Simply because all of his 100-plus cars were of exactly that color… Soon after he had so much antagonized all of his onetime allies and the army that the revolutionaries did not find it at all difficult to overthrow him…

After the 32-year-old Farouk left the country never to get back again, the new regime quickly moved to auction off the king 's vast collection of trinkets and stolen treasures, including a huge collection of pornographic magazines and the world’s largest collection of post stamps. Searching the royal palaces, they found whole rooms laden with things at various times and places pilfered by the kleptomaniac monarch — empty bottles, coins, watches and untouched toothpaste tubes. And pricier things like, for example, a ceremonial sword Farouk had picked up right from the coffin of the Shah of Iran and a priceless pocket watch stolen from Winston Churchill.

At the age of 18 Farouk fell in love with the 17-year-old beauty Safinez Zulfikar and shortly after married her but not before he made her change her name. From then on Safinez was supposed to go under the official name Farida which in Arabic means “the only one”. It wasn’t long before the young king started having flings with other women though. Farouk was spending much time and effort to make his subjects believe he was an insatiable lover and convince them he certainly did! Always a glutton, the king would devour huge amounts of meat, fish, and eggs and was a real sucker for carbonated soft drinks. His gluttony for fine cuisine soon made the six-foot-tall former king dangerously obese, weighing nearly 300 pounds (136 kilos).

A great fan of night clubs and gambling, Farouk would often sit in casinos entertaining himself by spitting on passing waiters and guests and flirting with women. Those of the latter who ignored his attentions could easily wind up in one of his five palaces without their consent. Farouk was particularly partial to married women often blackmailing them to divorce their husbands. And it seems he just couldn’t care less about the feelings of his wife Farida who bore him three children during their 11 years together only to see her husband divorce her in the end. Shortly after the breakup the king, eager to win back his people’s love and respect, tied the knot with Nariman Sadeq, a 16-year-old commoner who looked so much like the woman he once craved for… After the 1952 coup Nariman followed her husband into exile in Italy but two years later she returned home and obtained a Moslem divorce.

Farouk continued to live a lavish life even in exile, and continued his obsessive accumulation of material goods squandering what had remained of his once vast fortune. In Rome he made the acquaintance of the 18-year-old aspiring actress Irma Minutolo. The two met during a beauty pageant Irma was taking part in. She never won any awards but managed to win the heart of the playboy ex-king who bought her a plush apartment and was paying for her music and singing lesions. Until Farouk’s last day Irma Minutolo remained his lover which did not prevent him looking for and finding ever new bedfellows…

Farouk died in Rome, on March 18, 1965. On the night he died, he was again eating in his favorite restaurant in the company of a new and his last girlfriend. He was only 45…

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