Demand for exceptional timepieces and jewellery remains strong, particularly for items which are rare, in excellent condition and reasonably estimated, according to Christie's. The auction house says that given the state of the global markets at the time of its December sale, which saw more than 80 per cent of watches offered sold, it is pleased to see continued liquidity and participation from collectors around the world, 'albeit at lower rates than a year ago'. Tim Bourne, Christie's international co-head of watches and wristwatches, says that while prices have dropped from the highs of 2007 and early last year, which is good news for consumers, this year will certainly be one for buyers, although pieces of great rarity and attractive estimates, 'will continue to command high prices and strong demand'. He says that while a brand such as Patek Philippe will always do well as the Rolls-Royce of watches, brands such as A. Lange & S?hne have stood up perhaps the best of all in value during the economic downturn. Vickie Sek, Christie's director of jewellery and jadeite department, says its December auction in Hong Kong had been the strongest of all jewellery auctions worldwide despite the challenging financial environment. Sotheby's in Hong Kong recently exhibited an important and rare fancy vivid blue diamond discovered last year at the Cullinan mine in South Africa. On the first leg of a worldwide tour, the cushion-shaped diamond, which weighs 7.03 carats, will be auctioned at a 'magnificent jewels' sale in Geneva next month. It has a pre-sale estimate of HK$45 million to HK$66 million.