Introducing the Phillips’ New Head of Watches, Asia: A Q&A With Thomas Perazzi

Asian growth for the world's most successful watch auction house.

Now in his eleventh year in the watch auction business, Italian native Thomas Perazzi was most recently the head of Christie’s watch department in Geneva, previously having served at both Antiquorum and Sotheby’s. Having left Christie’s in a surprise move, Mr Perazzi is now the Head of Watches, Asia, at the auction house that recently sold the most expensive watch ever, New York-based Phillips.

Taking up residence in Hong Kong for his new role, Mr Perazzi will be especially focused on watch auctions in the territory, which are typically a diverse mix of vintage and modern timepieces. Joining him in Hong Kong is Ho Zi Yong, a watch specialist who was formerly with Christie’s in the territory.

In Singapore two weeks ago for the first leg of the Hong Kong watch auction preview, Mr Perazzi sat down for a chat to explain what’s in store for collectors in Asia.


What are your plans in Asia for the watch department?

First of all, I would like to maintain the Phillips watch department’s leadership in Asia. And secondly, I would like to expand the market; there are so many areas where collectors aren’t covered by auction houses.

And thirdly, I would like to increase collectors’ knowledge of vintage timepieces. There are extremely knowledgeable vintage collectors but only in certain areas. We especially want to share our passion for vintage watches with beginners or modern watch collectors and make them understand the importance of collecting vintage Patek Philippe or Rolex.

But the message I would really like to share with Asian collectors is to look for high quality. That is for me the key to success in the future.

Can you elaborate on the segments of collecting that you would like to develop?

We just had our Heuer sale in Geneva. It’s a brand that is known but not so well-known. People know about the iconic models like the Monaco, Carrera and Autavia but there are so many other references that are extremely collectible but not known to the majority of collectors.

There are also Eberhard and Longines. People are aware of their importance but their knowledge of these brands isn’t as deep compared to American or European collectors.

Another one is Movado, the chronographs from the 40s and 50s. They made beautiful chronographs in stainless steel. Right now they’re a little bit undervalued.

Vintage watches from the likes of Eberhard and Longines are primarily sold in Geneva auctions. How would you aim to develop these brands in Asia?

Simply by meeting watch collectors during the previews, showing them good examples, spending time with them and showing them the importance of these watches. Again, it’s about sharing the passion that we have for these kinds of brands.

Can you name any other such brands that you think are flying under the radar right now?

One of my favourites is Breitling. It’s slightly undervalued right now. The Top Time, for example, or even nice Chronomats or Navitimers from the 1960s and 1970s.

Contemporary independent watchmaking is a big thing in Asia. Do you still intend to keep that as a major part of your business?

Absolutely. The success we had today [at the Singapore preview] is just amazing. We have the examples of Laurent Ferrier and especially Phillip Dufour [in the upcoming Hong Kong auction]. Collectors are aware of the importance of those watchmakers.

I want to have a balance of vintage and modern watches for our Hong Kong sales, and also not forgetting the importance of highly complicated pocket watches, which are part of the history of the industry.

Dufour Simplicity Phillips HKWA5

Pocket watches are not particularly popular nowadays. Do you think it’s worthwhile for collectors to pursue them?

Absolutely. Again, the key is quality. They must be well-preserved, perhaps pocket watches from an important brand. And if a collector wants to be wiser or have a collection that covers the history of watchmaking, they need a pocket watch in their collection.

Can you tell us what are the highlights from the upcoming Hong Kong auction?

For sure the Patek Philippe ref. 2523 world time with double crowns and the gilt guilloche dial. It’s only the second example known. There are two things I love about this watch. First is the condition; it has been extremely well-preserved over the decades. Next is the little things that make this watch unique: it was sold by an important French Patek Philippe retailer, Jean Guillermin and still has the beautiful French import hallmarks on the back. When you have it in your hand, that watch blows your mind.

Patek 2523 guilloche world time

The other watch is the Phillip Dufour Simplicity. It is always an honour to have such a watch in our auction.

Patek 2523 guilloche world time

And speaking of pocket watches, we have an important quarter-repeating pocket watch by Abraham-Louis Breguet. The no. 9 perpetuelle was one of Breguet’s very first self-winding watches and I highly recommend collectors to have a look at it.


Mr Perazzi’s inaugural sale, The Hong Kong Watch Auction: Five, takes place on November 28, 2017 at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. The full catalogue is available here.


Thomas Perazzi portrait credit Luxglove

This was brought to you by Phillips.

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The Watch That Toppled Robert Mugabe?

Zimbabwe's President is ousted after a pricey watch is doused in champagne.

After having ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, Robert Mugabe was unceremoniously placed by house arrest by the army yesterday morning. There are many obvious reasons for his ousting: the basket case that is the Zimbabwean economy, Mugabe’s recent firing of his powerful vice president, the lavish spending of the First Lady, but perhaps one of the straws that broke the camel’s back was a diamond-set wristwatch drowned in bubbly.

Last week the younger of former president’s two sons, Bellarmine Chatunga Mugabe, shared a video on Instagram that has since gone viral on the continent. Apparently shot in a nightclub in South Africa, Chatunga cracks open a bottle of champagne – a gilded bottle of Armand de Brignac naturally – and pours it all over his diamond pavé wristwatch. (See the video below.)

In an earlier post he had helpfully explained the cost of the watch with the caption: “$60 000 on the wrist when your daddy run the whole country ya know!!!”

While the Instagram boast has proven to be a short-lived one, it illustrates a small problem for many high-end watchmakers. Many of their timepieces are being purchased by personalities they would rather not be associated with – and perhaps being paid for with taxpayer dollars.


Source: News24, Instagram

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ZRC Introduces Vintage-Inspired Polar Explorer’s Watch

Affordable and all-terrain.

French watch brand ZRC has taken to crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to launch its second model, the North Adventure. Modelled on a 1960s military issue dive watch, the North Adventure will accompany French explorer Alban Michon on a 1500km solo ski kite journey across the Northwest passage in March 2018.

The North Adventure is a burlier variant of the Grands Fonds 300M, a 2015 remake of a watch issued to mine clearance divers of the French navy in 1964. The original was conceived by Louis Brunet, grandfather of ZRC’s current chief executive, Georges Brunet, fourth generation to run the 113-year old company, formally known as Zuccolo Rochet & Cie.

ZRC North Adventure 2

The twin vintage-style dive watches are actually a return to form: ZRC turned to manufacturing leather straps in 1975 during the Quartz Crisis and only began producing watches again with a newly established Swiss entity of the same name.

Mr Michon’s upcoming expedition was first undertaken by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team back in 1906, a journey that took three years. Mr Michon aims to do the same in two months, braving the same subzero temperatures, which is why the North Adventure is conceived to operate in temperatures as low as -40°C.

ZRC North Aventure Alban Michon

The North Adventure is rated to 300m and features a monobloc sandblasted steel case measuring a comfortable 40.5mm in diameter. It’s equipped with a 4mm thick sapphire crystal, which is four times the thickness of a standard crystal, and coated with an anti-condensation treatment on the inside.

ZRC North Adventure 3

The signature crown located at six o’clock has also been enlarged for optimum grip with wet or gloved fingers.

More notable is the defining feature of the case, a patented crown protection system that’s simple but effective: a hinged lug above the crown ensures it has to be fully screwed down before the watch can be worn. ZRC invented this in response to French navy requirements demanding a crown that would neither impede the wrist nor be susceptible to accidental unscrewing.

ZRC GF300 North ADVENTURE 11

More significantly, it has a luminous unidirectional bezel with the patented ECS (Easy Clean System), a unique channel system that circulates water under the bezel to wash away accumulated sea salt, which would otherwise hinder its rotation.

ZRC North Adventure 6

Powering the watch is an ETA 2824-2, that has modified pivots and special lubrications to ensure it doesn’t freeze at sub-zero temperatures. The watch is available on a NATO-style strap or steel bracelet with a spring-loaded clasp that expands to allow wearing over thick clothing.

Price and Availability

The ZRC North Adventure is available for preorder on Kickstarter for SFr1390, with delivery slated for May 2018.


 

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Dubai Watch Week 2017 Has Begun – Come Visit

From November 16 to 20 at DIFC.

The biggest watch event in the Middle East has just opened its doors to the public. Comprising five days of nonstop horology, Dubai Watch Week (DWW) includes exhibitions, workshops and panel discussions.

Many of the industry’s movers and shakers landed in Emirate for the event. DWW literally encompasses the entire spectrum of the watch industry, from establishment brands to independent watchmaking, and from retailers to auction houses.

Amongst the boldface names spotted at the opening gala was Georges Kern, Maximilian Büsser, Michael Tay and John Reardon. Even the watch media was present in full force, with watch blogs Hodinkee as well as Quill & Pad amongst those in attendance.

Dubai Watch Week 2017 2

One of the highlights of the weeklong event are the exhibits put on by watchmakers ranging from A. Lange & Söhne to F.P. Journe. The displays includes some newly launched watches, with Urwerk and Ferdinand Berthoud having unveiled new models on the first day of the fair.

Beyond watch displays, DWW also encompasses several forums with some of the most prominent names in the industry. For example, a panel discussion on independent watchmaking takes place on November 18, with Francois-Paul Journe, Pascal Raffy of Bovet and Theo Staub of Moritz Grossmann amongst the panellists. The trio are just some of the 45 speakers participating in the event.

Dubai Watch Week 2017 3

And DWW also includes workshops conducted by some of the most eminent names in watchmaking. One of the highlights will undoubtedly be the masterclass conducted by the grand old man of IWC, Kurt Klaus, taking place on November 17 and 18.

DWW takes place at The Gate within the Dubai International Financial Centre. All of the happenings at DWW are open to the public, though registration is required. That can be done online at dubaiwatchweek.com.


 

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