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Highlights: Phillips Geneva Watch Auction X

From 1518 to Zeitwerk.

With the Double Signed theme auction out of the way, here are a few highlights from Phillips’ Geneva watch auction, including a Lange Zeitwerk that might be a value buy, and a steel Rolex Day-Date prototype.


Lot 145 – Lange Zeitwerk in rose gold

The Zeitwerk is unquestionably a modern classic – notably, it is probably the most reliable digital display watch on the market – and is relatively good value on the secondary market, selling for a chunk off retail.

lange zeitwerk rose gold phillips gwa 1

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This example is in rose gold, and is complete with all boxes and paperwork. It was first sold in 2011, and obviously wasn’t worn much sine then.

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The estimate is just 20,000-40,000 Swiss francs.


Lot 179 – Patek Philippe ref. 1463 in steel

One of the top lots in the sale, this is a ref. 1463 “Tasti Tondi”, an early water-resistant chronograph by Patek Philippe.

But this is in steel, of which only 67 are known, with a two-tone dial, furthering reducing the number known to just 17.

The watch is in excellent condition, with a sharply preserved case and original dial, although the dial might have been cleaned in the distant past.

The estimate is 300,000-600,000 francs.


Lot 209 – Patek Philippe ref. 1518 in yellow gold

The ref. 1518 is a landmark, being the first serially produced chronograph with perpetual calendar. This is a good example of the ref. 1518, almost the quintessential version of the model with a yellow gold case.

It is clean and in good condition, albeit showing a little bit of age on the dial, which has also been cleaned. And the case shows past polishing given its rounded edges. But everything that should be there still is, making this a good example overall for comparatively reasonable money as far as the ref. 1518 goes.

The estimate on the ref. 1518 is 250,000-500,000 francs.


Lot 247 – Rolex Day-Date prototype in steel

Though not visibly impressive – it looks like an ordinary Day-Date – this is a prototype Rolex in steel.

The Day-Date is the top of the line Rolex collection, and only offered in gold or platinum. According to Phillips, a few examples in steel were given as prizes to top students at Geneva’s watchmaking school, and a handful more steel prototypes exist. This is one of them.

Rolex Day-Date prototype steel phillips 1

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Being a prototype it has no serial number, but it was consigned by the heirs of the original owner, who worked at Rolex and received this as a gift when he retired.

The movement inside is a cal. 1555 prototype that features a new balance wheel beating at a higher frequency than the standard cal. 1555, a feature that became standard in the subsequent cal. 1556.

Rolex Day-Date prototype steel phillips 4

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The watch has an estimate of 60,000-120,000 francs. A similar example sold last year for 168,750 francs.


Lot 268 – Philippe Dufour Simplicity in white gold

Needing little introduction, this is a well preserved Simplicity with a 37mm, white gold case.

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It has an early serial number, 23, and is complete with all accessories.

The estimate is 150,000-300,000 francs, the range of recent transacted prices.


Lot 281 – Rolex Submariner ref. 116659SABR with blue sapphires

The next two lots are a pair of sorts, both being variants of the Rolex Submariner set with blue sapphires. Though they are current production watches, they are notably rare and difficult to obtain.

Rolex Submariner 116659SABR blue sapphires 1

Both examples are almost new, and complete with all paperwork and boxes.

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The first has is the more discreet of the two, with a metallic blue dial and an estimate of 50,000-100,000 francs.


Lot 283 – Rolex Submariner ref. 116659SABR with blue sapphires and diamond pave

The second has a diamond-set dial for a more dramatic look.

Rolex Submariner 116659SABR blue sapphires diamonds 1

Rolex Submariner 116659SABR blue sapphires diamonds 2

Rolex Submariner 116659SABR blue sapphires diamonds 3

The estimate is 80,000-120,000.


Preview and Auction

The Geneva Watch Auction: X takes place at La Reserve in Geneva on November 10 at 4pm.

The full catalogue and bidding information is available here.

La Réserve Geneva Hotel and Spa
301 Route de Lausanne
1293 Geneva
Switzerland


 

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Business News: Citizen Sticks with Baselworld for 2020

One Japanese giant will be staying out.

Shortly after Seiko announced it was pulling out of Baselworld 2020, fellow Japanese watchmaker Citizen announced it was staying put, along with all of its subsidiary brands, save for Arnold & Son.

According to a report in Chronos Japan, the decision was made in the summer, after some internal debate as to whether or not to remain in Baselworld, where Citizen has long boasted one of the most avant-garde booths, year after year.

The Citizen booth at Baselworld 2019

Citizen – which launched a record-setting quartz watch at Baselworld 2019 – might have moved to the recently announced Watches & Wonders in Geneva, but that did not happen.

So the brand, along with its subsidiaries Bulova, Frederique Constant, Alpina, and Miyota, will continue to exhibit at Baselworld. Only Arnold & Son, a relatively high-end Swiss brand also owned by Citizen, will exhibit at Watches & Wonders.

According to an industry source, the remaining major Japanese watchmaker, G-Shock maker Casio, will also continue to show at Baselworld.

Source: Chronos Japan


 

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The Most Expensive Watch Ever – Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime in Steel for CHF31m

At Only Watch in Geneva.

The Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime ref. 6300A made for Only Watch 2019 has just made history by selling for 31m Swiss francs – selling to a new face at watch auctions – topping the 23m francs achieved by the Henry Graves Supercomplication and the 17m francs of Paul Newman’s “Paul Newman” Daytona.

Before the Grandmaster Chime sold for the record-setting sum, I wrote:

A major, outsized finish of 12m or 15m francs, or even more, is possible but only likely if an unexpected, deep-pocketed bidder buys the watch, or manages to push the winner further than expected.

I was way off the mark value-wise, but at least half right.

The bidding opened with room bids, first a 5m franc bid from gem dealer and auction veteran Claude Sfeir, followed by 10m francs from a prominent SE Asian collector.

But the action swiftly moved to phone bidders, all bidding via Christie’s representatives, including Stéphane Von Bueren of the watch department in Geneva.

It was a prolonged tussle – with bidding rising in 500,000 franc increments – between Mr Von Bueren’s client and another represented by Wei-Ting Jud of Christie’s London. Once bidding hit 17m francs, there was brief applause as the watch topped the record of Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona.

At 22.5m francs, a new bidder jumped in, represented by Max Fawcett of Christie’s Geneva. From there it was Mr Fawcett against Ms Jud – and another round of applause when the watch surpassed the record set by the Graves Supercomplication – who was bidding with a reassuring conviction and powered to victory at 31m francs for paddle 9198.

Scenes from the sale. Photo – Alex Teuscher Photography

The winner was indeed unexpected, being an important Asian collector who is not a regular face in salerooms, although the underbidder is an auction regular.

In fact, the winner and his party were not even sitting in the VIP area at the front of the room, which might imply they were not expected to triumph. The VIP area, made up of the first few rows of seats, was indeed filled with auction regulars, as well as Thierry Stern and several Patek Philippe executives, who all looked pleased with the result.

The 31m Swiss francs raised by the Patek Philippe brought the total of Only Watch 2019 to 38.593m francs, making it the biggest watch auction ever.

A new chapter?

The result returns the crown of most expensive wristwatch ever sold to Patek Philippe, and will no doubt elevate the brand’s standing amongst collectors and enthusiasts, while also boosting desire for its complicated, as opposed to sports, watches.

Does it mark a paradigm shift in the auction market? Probably not, since the winner came, saw and conquered with quiet determination, but is not likely to return to set records for other Patek Philippe watches, particularly for the sort of watches that have traditionally set records at auctions, like the refs. 1518 or 2499, so the steel Grandmaster Chime will probably be “The Only One”.


Update November 10, 2019: Added names of the Christie’s representatives and bids prior to the winning bid.

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