Phillips Stages Thematic Auction Of Stainless Steel Chronographs: A Reaction To Market Conditions?
There is no doubt that Phillips is the shooting star among watch auction houses right now. This is certainly no accident as the expertise of Aurel Bacs is in my opinion the best in the business. His uncanny ability to read what the market wants and needs has served him and the auction houses he has worked for exceptionally well.
This is expertly reflected in Phillips’ next thematic sale of wristwatches, which is scheduled to take place on May 14, 2016 in Geneva. The auction called Start-Stop-Reset: 88 Epic Stainless Steel Chronographs is unusual in that it only includes chronographs, and even more unusually, exclusively stainless steel chronographs.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Start-Stop-Reset: 88 Epic Stainless Steel Chronographs.”[/pullquote]
The idea behind this auction is to highlight the fact that all chronographs are worthy of interest, whether they sell for 10,000 or one million francs. Supported by the uncompromising approach to quality (condition, provenance) of Bacs and his team – a team that now includes Italian watch scholar and author Pucci Papaleo, who wrote the action catalogue – the aim is to open the world of watch collecting to a wider audience.
This could indeed be a fresh and engaging approach to the world of high-class watch auctions – in particular when you consider that recent auction results have no longer broken world records as often as we have become accustomed to of late (see GaryG’s assessment in Keep Calm And Continue Collecting: Advice For An Up And Down Watch Market).
Perhaps, just perhaps, the time has come where the world of watches will finally level out at some sort of a sustainable pricing norm. Coupled with the more competitive pricing of many watches seen at Baselworld 2016, we may be entering a more interesting period of somewhat more reasonable pricing altogether.
Despite that, the top lot for the Start-Stop-Reset auction is Lot 56, a Rolex Reference 4113 split-seconds chronograph, of which only 12 were ever manufactured according to the auction house. Never before seen for public sale, the model was originally only offered to Rolex-sponsored racing teams and drivers. This Reference 4113 is estimated to sell for between an astounding 800,000 and 1,600,000 Swiss francs.
Let’s take a look at a few of the other highlights from the 88 “epic” stainless steel timepieces on the block.
The Rolex Reference 6239 at Lot 88 (the last in this auction) is one of the rare stainless steel chronographs that the Geneva-based brand designed to accommodate a “doctor’s” pulsation scale. It is estimated to sell for between 350,000 and 700,000 Swiss francs.
Tudor is the flavor of the watch world at the moment, known as it is for good value for money. This Tudor Reference 7031/0 at Lot 47, though rare, is also a vintage stainless steel chronograph wristwatch that can most likely be termed a good deal with an estimate between 15,000 and 25,000 Swiss francs. Though if the Only Watch auction in 2015 is any indication, maybe not (see You Are There: Attending The Only Watch Auction 2015 With Patek Philippe).
This Omega Reference 2393/3 at Lot 85 is a very beautiful stainless steel chronograph with a dial comprising not only three colors and large art-deco style hour markers, but also tachometer, telemeter, and pulsation scales. Its estimate falls between 20,000 and 40,000 Swiss francs.
The quite large Rolex Reference 3330 at Lot 74 is an antimagnetic chronograph with a salmon-colored dial displaying tachometer and telemeter scales. Its estimate comes in between a whopping 200,000 and 400,000 Swiss francs.
Bound to do well in the auction among the high-end collectors is Lot 17, the Patek Philippe Reference 1463 “Tasti Tondi,” which is rare with its double signature co-featuring Montevideo-based retailer Freccero. It could be yours if you are willing to spend between 350,000 and 550,000 (or more) on it.
Other noteworthy chronographs in the sale include the Hermès Tropical Bamboo Hat (Lot 12), the Zenith CP-2 Cairelli (Lot 13), a few Tiffany Rolex double signature models, Breguet Type XXs from the 1950s and 1960s, a black Heuer Monaco from 1975 (Lot 42), and a Ulysse Nardin Black Tropical Dial chronograph at Lot 8.
You can find the full catalogue online at www.phillipswatches.com/start-stop-reset-88-epic-stainless-steel-chronographs.
Start-Stop-Reset takes place on Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 18:00, while Phillips’ Geneva Watch Auction Three will take place on May 15. Both are located at La Reserve in Geneva.
Viewing takes place in New York City (April 15 to 18 at Park Avenue Gallery) and London (April 23 to 26 at Phillips Berkeley Square) as well as the pre-sale exhibitions in Geneva on Thursday May 12.
For more information, please visit www.phillips.com/auctions.