Ineichen: Europe’s Oldest Watch Auctioneer Progresses Into The 21st Century
Ever since the soft-spoken Artemy Lechbinsky took over Ineichen with his partners in 2017 it has blossomed, firmly establishing itself on the European auction scene with forward-thinking actions and policies for a new generation of bidders.
It’s not common knowledge, but Ineichen is the oldest watch-specialized auction house in Switzerland, founded in 1973 by Peter Ineichen. His son Frank ran it until 2017, when Lechbinsky and his partners came in. Ineichen used 2018 as a transitional year for restructuring and brought in additional investment for IT infrastructure in 2019. This was good timing as the auction world experienced an extreme uptick during the pandemic. And it gave the reinvented company time to become the watch auction house of a new generation.
Ineichen: first timed auction and share capital at auction
One of the new elements is timed auctions online, with Ineichen holding its first timed auction at the end of April 2022. It bundled a rare Porsche, an NFT artwork, and a luxury wristwatch – all unique and created especially for the auction by Konstantin Chaykin (watch), Aleksandr Markovsky (car), and Olexander Nyezhnyk (NFT artwork).
The starting point for this bundle was a retro Skittle-colored 1986 Porsche 911 G Carrera (which they dubbed the Porsche 911 Joker) restored by renowned automobile influencer and tuner Aleksandr Markovsky. It was accompanied by a unique timepiece from Konstantin Chaykin’s Joker line called Joker XXX, which has the same color scheme as the original Joker from 2017 but with black pad-printed eyes and red hands to resemble Porsche gauges; a purple strap tied it to the Joker theme, while a medallion on the back replicated the NFT art depicting the Joker’s ride against a Gotham City night skyline by Ukrainian artist Olexander Nyezhnyk. Markovsky and Chaykin are Moscow based.
Five percent of the auction revenue was donated to UNICEF in support of the global initiative of peace establishment in Ukraine. “This auction is the result of united work of Russian and Ukrainian creators. Peace is what made this cooperation possible and is what we want to support with united efforts,” Lechbinsky stressed.
The starting price for the bundle was CHF 100,000 – cryptocurrency naturally accepted – and it sold after a short but exciting live auction during which Lechbinsky commanded attention both in the live sale room and online for CHF 300,000 / $324,000 / €292,000.
Ineichen’s unexpected announcements
This event was accompanied by two unexpected announcements: one, that Ineichen would be canceling its buyer’s premium and offering more transparent commission models for consignors; and two, that it would offer shares in the auction house through a bidding process executed on its own platform in May 2022. Both of these elements had as-yet been unheard of in the auction world.
These must have all been successful as the Zurich-based auction house will not only offer more timed auctions throughout the summer of 2022, it is also holding a closed July auction of 33 percent of shares in the company.
“We’ve decided to sell 33 percent of the company at auction,” confirms Lechbinsky. “In May we held a closed live sale auction of a single lot representing a 0.5 percent stake in the company. Based on the winning bid of CHF 210,000, we have allocated 66 lots for the July sale.”
As a result, the starting price per lot is CHF 210,000. Only 499 buyers will be preapproved to participate. The sale opened on July 20, 2022 and will continue until August 20, 2022, during which time offers will be collected and the final winner(s) selected. Buyers may bid on as many lots as they like.
“This is an exciting time in the company’s history, and we look forward to a groundbreaking event this July,” says the 33-year-old Lechbinsky.
Timed auctions in summer 2022
Ineichen will be running two more timed auctions this summer, both of which offer fewer than 50 pieces in line with the company’s “user friendly” policies. The July auction will contain a mixed collection of timepieces by some of the watch industry’s most illustrious names, while the August auction will be dedicated solely to timepieces by independent watchmaker Konstantin Chaykin.
“Ninety percent of our bidders are online,” Lechbinsky revealed to me as to why his company is putting so much emphasis on the online auctions. “We also needed to make an option for clients [who don’t want to wait to put their watches in auction]. People are not ready to wait anymore.”
Ineichen has also launched an app aimed at enabling bidders to manage their time more efficiently during auctions with instant push notifications. “We are hosting the timed auctions on our own platform, which we built in-house, a first for an auction house,” explains Lechbinsky.
Ineichen is definitely an auction house to keep an eye on – that is, if you haven’t already purchased your stake in it.
For more information, please visit ineichen.com.