May 27, 2016
Geneva's auction season is the pinnacle of watch collecting. They say that the true pulse of the vintage watch market is measured on weekends like this one. The stage was set for quite a show. Starting off with Sotheby's and Phillip's on Saturday, Antiquorum and Phillip's on Sunday, and finally Christie's on Monday. Follow us through a tour of the auction experience.
Friday morning, the buzz in the city was palpable. We started off at Sotheby's to see what we could find. Paddles were going up and traffic was heavy in the auction room. We went to catch some fresh air and ran into some friends and dealers outside. After a few casual greetings watches started coming out of bags and off wrists'. Right there in the streets everyone started making deals and doing business. The watch world can be like the wild wild west at times. Sometimes sales are made in the most prestigious auction settings, like at Sotheby's and other times they are done casually walking down the street.
Following Sotheby's we ran over to La Reserve for Phillips highlight auction "Start, Stop, Reset." The auction focused on 88 Epic Stainless Steel Chronographs and presented a valuable opportunity for the vintage watch world. The auction was staged to set a tone for the market, to show the top end values for timepieces that have previously been under appreciated. Brands like Cyma, Longines, Heuer, Universal Geneve, Eterna were on display to prove their market value, and boy did they put on a show. Many of the worlds strongest collectors and dealers were in attendance and the bidding was fierce. The final results for Phillips topped $16 million and certain timepieces solidified their place in collectors minds and hearts.
Quick, quick, quick…one stop to the next. Once the auctions start there are more things to do than you can fit in a day. After an Epic night at Phillips we were geared up for the main Phillips sale "Geneva Watch Auction: Three" and for Antiquorum's daytime auction. With such huge results the first night it was interesting to see the energy of the watch crowd change. Everyone started to loosen up a little. You could feel it walking through the streets and in the auction houses. The preview tables were more casual and the situation was ripe to do business. Having said that, many of the auction prices hammered closer to luxury retail prices than they did to auction bargains. Remember, good deals are made in the buy and not in the sell.
At the end of the day, Phillips brought in another impressive CHF 16.4 million, and Antiquorum exhibited some of the finest pocket watches being sold at auction today. One particular Jürgensen pocket watch went for 12 times the estimate, hammering at CHF 620,000. After the evening auction, a bunch of the watch crowd went out for a night of dancing. Great to see everyone out boogieing on down. The watch world definitely knows how to have a good time!
After a wonderful weekend we were excited for Christie's Rare and Important Watches sale. The selection at Christie's was on point and the collectors were extra seasoned after a full weekend of bidding. There was a causal air in the auction house and we decided to take our seats at the front of the room. The auction process can be therapeutic like watching waves crash on the beach. People are up and down from their chairs, socializing in side conversations, and everyone is hanging around for the lot with their name on it. There is a true finesse to knowing which watches have the right quality and are going at the right price. We were very happy with Christie's results and ended up winning some excellent lots. Keep checking back on the site to see some of the watches we won go up for sale!