Fellows Timed Auction: Accessible Watches And Perhaps The First Omega x Swatch Moonswatch To Appear At Traditional Auction
Fellows auction house is still something of a hidden gem, so if you look hard you might find some excellent bargains. I’ve personally gotten very lucky here, once even managing to find a timepiece that I had long been searching for at an unpredictably good price.
And with the British pound now at an advantageous exchange rate for much of the rest of the world, the offerings at Fellows could be a veritable treasure trove for the beginning watch collector.
The current Fellows auction has one not-so-hidden gem awaiting the highest bidder: if you are looking for a Mission to Mars version of this year’s runaway smash Swatch x Omega Moonwatch (lot 235) you might want to join the online bidding, which started at £100. The fight for lot 235 is already well underway.
For those looking for a more genuine Omega sports watch, Fellows complies by providing lots that include a quartz Omega Seamaster Professional 300 M (lot 58) and an example of the rather underrated 35 mm vintage Omega Chronostop with manual-wind Caliber 920 (lot 66) among others. The Chronostop is much different from other chronographs in that it acts like a stopwatch for short-term timings of less than a minute. Also like a stopwatch, the Chronostop features only one button for timing, which the wearer pushes to start and stop. Back in its heyday, it was marketed toward younger consumers, which makes it a perfect starter watch for someone just looking to get into watch collecting with a sporty looker.
Continuing the sporty theme, Fellows is also offering a Certina DS-2 Super PH1000 from around the 1970s in this auction, one of four different Certina diver’s watches from this era (lots 136-139). I’m thinking these may have all come from the same collection.
From the photos – and I have to commend Fellows on this as the auction house’s photos are always unretouched, which means you can relatively easily see the true condition of the watches – they appear to be in excellent condition.
There are more than a few TAG Heuer models in this auction, too, most of which are neo-vintage in age and sport chic in style. Lot 83, for example, is a quartz S/el. Those of us who were around then might remember this model with its ultra-funky, super-smooth bracelet and interesting clasp. And this 38 mm stainless steel watch looks practically unworn. At a starting bid of £180, it’s a steal.
Another fun TAG Heuer in great shape in this auction is a neo-vintage stainless steel Link model with an interesting bracelet. Its pink dial and 34 mm sizing might suggest it’s for women, but I would say this quartz watch is really for anyone who cares to wear it.
And Fellows also has a classic yellow gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust in this auction, which at 28 mm and in the most classic of all metals is right in the “now” – which is reflected in its low estimate of £2,500, possibly the highest low estimate in the auction. From about 1980, this watch is powered by automatic Rolex Caliber 2030 and comes on a Jubilee bracelet, but does not have box and papers.
Off the beaten path
This is a great auction for people who want to start or build a collection at a very accessible level.
And there is a lot more than sports and sport chic watches to be had. The Fellows auction is a good place to find British specialties like Garrard and Smiths (lots 231 through 234), for example.
There are design watches here, too, like a series of Rado models (lots 201 through 207), perhaps all from the same seller. These Swiss classics like the DiaStar have incredible starting bids. Rado was perhaps the first Swiss brand to use ceramic in a pioneering way, and because the models have often remained true to form, it is hard to discern the ages of these watches without handling them. But that is a good thing: it is always classic.
I usually look to Fellows for watches that are truly off the beaten path and find that there is almost always a good selection of vintage “ladies watches” with particularly good estimates. These are great for women looking to start a new hobby by easing into the collecting with older ladies watches, which generally don’t trade for much money due to their sizes and feminine visuals. However, in my view these are some of the most fun watches to be had anymore.
Omega made a lot of this type of watch back in the day, though the age of the delicate nine-karat yellow gold example in the auction as lot 57 might be hard to discern from its light-and-airy bracelet design. However, the fact that it is nine-karat gold (as opposed to the 18-karat variety that has been in use since the mechanical renaissance) along with its 17 mm size do indicate to me that it is probably from the 1970s. The bracelet of lot 57 is simply divine as is the petite folding clasp, and the condition of the whole thing appears wonderful. Powered by manual-wind Caliber 485, which was manufactured in the 1970s (yet another clue), and even coming with box and papers, the starting estimate of £360 is rather interesting.
Here’s a watch you don’t see every day: a 25 mm Blancpain Villeret calendar watch with moon phase and age of moon. The two-tone combination of stainless steel case with yellow gold bezel and crown lead me to believe this watch is from the early 1990s. Additionally, the bezel is set with diamonds. Considering its age, I would say that its manual-wind movement is with all likelihood a Frédéric Piguet base. From the photos it looks relatively unworn or extremely well cared for, a theory the original brown alligator skin strap would definitely support. It’s not every day a watch like this turns up at auction.
I was super excited to find this Oris Artelier Lady Date Diamonds in this auction. Like a lot of people my age who are interested in watches, my first good watch purchase was an Oris. So I have a really high regard for the quality of these pieces, which were (and still are) very well priced.
Oris was the originator of the “high-mech” campaign, which was powered by fairly priced mechanical ETA-equipped watches. This sporty and likely modern 30 mm Artelier model comes on a stainless steel bracelet and even wears genuine diamonds on its black dial. Its ETA 2671 movement even still touts the “high-mech” red coloring to this day. A great collection starter – like my Oris was.
If your collection is in need of a fancy evening watch, you might be in the market for the quartz Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex Coeur model that is lot 16.
This Franck Muller Cintrée Curvex Coeur is a real looker with its electric blue guilloche-stamped dial, Arabic numerals, and blued steel hands. It is housed in an unusual 22 x 36 mm tonneau-shaped case – though not an unusual case shape for Franck Muller, who built the brand with this look. It is crafted in 18-karat white gold and features two diamond-studded hearts that almost look as if they were the lugs holding the integrated strap.
The Cintrée Curvex Coeur positively glows with sparkly diamonds, including the buckle, that come to a total of an estimated 1.75 carats. The crown is set with an inverted diamond.
What I like a lot about Fellows is the unpretentious way that it goes about its auctions, the untouched photos showing the true condition of these watches, and the great estimates. You can also find that hidden gem every once in a while, so perusing the catalogue is always worthwhile.
This timed auction is already online and ends on Monday, October 24, 2022 at 9:00 am UK time.
For more information, please visit www.fellows.co.uk/Watches-Watch-Accessories/2022-10-24.
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Mrs Banter bought me a Moonswatch as a surprise. Sort of the WIS version of a bunch of flowers!
It’s incredibly light and comfortable. I have written this before on Q&P, but I think the right Swatch is a wonderful way to remind oneself of the simple joy of a wristwatch. I also believe it’s a great test of character for at least a couple of reasons; it is almost impossible to put up a front while wearing a timepiece everyone can afford & the particular model you choose from the hundreds of options is almost like an ink-blot test.
Given Gary G’s exquisite taste and enviable collection, I would be fascinated to see which Swatch he would be comfortable wearing. 😁