Hands-On with Highlights from Phillips’ Geneva Watch Auction

Ten of the best from the sale.
Phillips GWA6 collage

Phillip’s upcoming The Geneva Watch Auction: Six is a relatively compact 157 lots – supplemented by 50 watches in the Heuer thematic auction – that is typically diverse. While the headline lots are inevitably million-dollar Patek Philippes, the catalogue includes several extremely interesting watches – including the landmark Omega tourbillon wristwatch from 1947.

Here are ten picks from the sale, with something for everyone, from an Urwerk in black platinum to a Meylan air force chronograph.


Lot 114 – Patek Philippe ref. 1463 signed “Beyer”

The Patek Philippe ref. 1463 was the gentleman’s sports chronograph of the 1940s and 1950s, larger than average and equipped with a water-resistant, screw-down back. In fact, when Roger Dubuis first started making watches under his own name, the inspiration for his Hommage watch was the ref. 1463.

Several things make this particular ref. 1463 special. First is the fact that it’s the earliest known, dating to 1942, having been bought by a Swede who wanted a watch to wear while sailing (he must have been a gentleman).

Patek Philippe 1463 Beyer Phillips 1

The dial is also signed “Beyer”, the Zurich watch retailer that was decades ago perhaps the biggest Patek Philippe retailer in the world and still run by a Beyer today. No other ref. 1463 signed “Beyer” is known.

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Another detail is the profile of the lugs, which are identical to the straight lugs of the steel 1463s, making this unlike any other gold 1463.

Patek Philippe 1463 Beyer Phillips 4

And then there is the dial, which was originally silver and has now aged to a dark shade, perhaps from all that time spent on the deck of a sailboat. The patina is extreme and not for everyone, but intriguing enough that someone will pony up the relatively modest estimate for this.

Patek Philippe 1463 Beyer Phillips 3

The last unusual element is the bracelet, which came 26 years after the watch was originally purchased yet is entirely original. Made by Gay Freres and signed by Patek Philippe, the intricate woven gold bracelet was a gift to the owner from the daughter in 1968. And now the watch and bracelet are being offered for sale by the owner’s heirs. The estimate is SFr80,000 to SFr140,000.


Lot 120 – Patek Philippe ref. 1526 pink gold

A relatively rare watch, yet not outrageously expensive because of its smallish size, the Patek Philippe ref. 1526 can be had for relatively little money or a lot more. This example falls squarely into the latter category.

Patek Philippe 1526 pink gold Phillips 1

For one it’s pink gold, being one of just four in the metal made by Patek Philippe. But more importantly it is in strikingly crisp condition, both the case and dial.

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The case retains its original shape and textures, along with both hallmarks prominently visible. Similarly the dial is clean and unmarred.

Patek Philippe 1526 pink gold Phillips 4

Patek Philippe 1526 pink gold Phillips

Phillips has sold four ref. 1526s in pink gold in the last two years, with the lowest priced one being relatively worn and going for just SFr150,000. In contrast, the upcoming example is estimated at SFr200,000 to SFr400,000.


Lot 149 – Rolex Daytona ref. 16528 “The Big Blue” or “Chairman”

This 1995 Rolex Daytona ref. 16528 is a Zenith El Primero-powered model in 18k yellow gold, distinguished only by the metallic blue dial, an outstandingly serene and handsome finish. Thought to have been made as a trial product that was then canned, the handful of watches made were reputedly given to key people in Rolex and its business partners.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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That rarity gives this an estimate of SFr100,000 to SFr200,000, though the last time one came up for sale it went for almost US$300,000.

Lot 160 – Urwerk UR-202S Black Platinum

Perhaps the only big ticket watch from an independent watchmaker in the sale, this Urwerk UR-202S is a one of a kind creation in thoroughly unusual colours.

The hefty case is platinum but coated black, while the hour numerals on the orbiting cubes are bright red. And the minute track is in green Super-Luminova, a combination not seen on any other Urwerk.

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Now synonymous with Urwerk, the satellite cube time display is of course descended from the Harry Winston Opus V, and still one of the most remarkable inventions in contemporary watchmaking. Made in 2014, this was one of the last UR-202s made, the model having been succeeded by the UR-210.

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The estimate is SFr50,000 to SFr70,000.


Lot 186 – Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 570 two-tone “Eberhard Milan”

This watch last sold at auction for just over US$500,000, having been put up for sale in 2012 by Gordon Bethune, the former chief executive of Continental Airlines and once a prominent watch collector who sold the bulk of his collection in the same auction.

Patek Philippe 570 two-tone Eberhard 1

Several features set this 1943 Calatrava apart from the rest. The first is the two-tone case, a combination of steel and pink gold that’s a largish 36.5mm in diameter. While two-tone cases are sometimes déclassé, this is a formally handsome watch, thanks in part to the glossy black gilt dial, another distinguishing quality of the watch.

Patek Philippe 570 two-tone Eberhard 3

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Furthermore the dial is signed “Eberhard-Milan”, a now defunct watch retailer that once sold many a high-end watch.

This has an estimate of SFr250,000 to SFr500,000.


Lot 187 – Patek Philippe ref. 2499 pink gold, third series

No self-respecting watch auction in Geneva is complete without a Patek Philippe ref. 2499, and so it is that the catalogue has one. But this is no budget ref. 2499.

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It is a third series example in pink gold, one of just six in the metal known. And its particular type of hour marker with lengthwise facets are only found on two of the six examples.

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Beyond its rarity the watch is also in exceptionally crisp condition, with the case having its original contours and details, and the dial being remarkably clean.

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Consequently, the estimate is SFr1.5m to SFr3.0m.


Lot 214 – IWC ref. 325 “Portugieser”

Getting its name from the fact that these oversized wristwatches were originally ordered by a Portuguese client in the 1930s, the Portugieser is now one of IWC’s hallmark timepieces. This lot is an original Portugieser watch dating from 1946, though not actually Portuguese, having been delivered to the brand’s distributor in Slovakia.

IWC Portugieser 325 Phillips 1

IWC Portugieser 325 Phillips 4

Like most other Portugieser watches, the 42mm case is steel, but the dial and hands are unusual in having radium markings.

IWC Portugieser 325 Phillips 2

IWC Portugieser 325 Phillips 3

Inside is the hand-wound cal. 98, the same calibre found in the IWC 125th anniversary Portugieser Jubilee limited edition of 1993, which used new old stock movements. Though the movement synonymous with the Portugieser, the cal. 98 was found in second generation Portugieser watches beginning in the 1940s, while those from the 1930s used the cal. 74.

With IWC not an obsessively collected as say, 10 years ago, this ref. 325 is not outrageously priced. The estimate is SFr30,000 to SFr60,000.


Lot 231 – Patek Philippe ref. 2497G

Another of the heavyweight Patek Philippe watches in the sale is the ref. 2497 perpetual calendar in white gold. First sold by the original owner, reputedly to be a member of South-East Asian royalty, sixteen years ago, the watch has only changed hands once since then.

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It is one of just three ref. 2497s in white gold known, and is made even more unusual by the original white gold bracelet with a Florentine finish.

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Notably, the end-links of the bracelet have tiny grooves to allow access to the recessed pushers on the band of the case, allowing the owner to set the calendar without having to remove the bracelet.

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While the watch does exhibit faint wear, it feels reassuringly original. It has an estimate of SFr1.5m to SFr3.0m.


Lot 242 – Meylan Type A-7 chronograph

Supplied by three watchmakers to the US Army Air Corps for about a decade starting in the late 1930s, the Type A-7 chronograph is a strikingly original timepiece conceived for aircraft navigators to operate with ease while flying.

Longines, Meylan and Gallet produced the Type A-7 for the US military, but because all three marques made the Type A-7 to the same military specifications, the watches are essentially identical.

Meylan Type A-7 Chronograph Phillips 2

Meylan Type A-7 Chronograph Phillips 1

Despite the Swiss name – Meylan is a common surname in the Vallee de Joux – this Meylan was actually an American watch importer based in New York that is still in operation as a stopwatch retailer. The Longines versions are by far the most valuable, typically selling for well over US$50,000, making this Meylan example comparatively good value.

Meylan Type A-7 Chronograph Phillips 3

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Meylan Type A-7 Chronograph Phillips 4

The 51mm case is chrome-plated and in fine condition, despite such cases when relatively prone to wear.

It has an estimate of SFr20,000 to SFr40,000.


Lot 255 – Patek Philippe ref. 2597

This three-hand ref. 2597 is a prime example of Patek Philippe’s “Travel Time” dual time zone watch. Designed by Geneva engineer Louis Cottier, also the inventor of the world time wristwatch, the dual time zone in its second generation featured an extra hour hand for the second time zone (in contrast, the earlier models had a single adjustable hour hand).

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Dating from 1961, the watch was only sold in 1980 and appears to have never been serviced, explaining its pristine condition. In fact, Phillips says the case is likely “unpolished”, a credible claim. And not only is the watch in an exemplary state of preservation, it is also in pink gold.

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The estimate is SFr300,000 to SFr500,000.


Preview and auction

The preview exhibition takes place daily from November 9 to 12 at La Reserve in Geneva. The auction is on November 11 for lots 101 to 150, and November 12 for the remaining lots, also at the same venue. For the full catalogue visit phillips.com.


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