Auction Watch: The First Philippe Dufour Simplicity 20th Anniversary

"00/20" at Phillips.

Phillip’s upcoming Geneva auction on November 8 encompasses Retrospective: 2000-2020, a sale centred on important watches of the last 20 years. The Retrospective catalogue was curated by Blackbird, best known as the sole agent for Ferrari in Hong Kong, but also the publisher of a watch magazine.

Naturally, independent watchmaking looms large in the selection, and a Philippe Dufour Simplicity was almost expected. Phillips and Blackbird have gone one further: going under the hammer will be the very first Philippe Dufour Simplicity 20th Anniversary, numbered “00/20”.

Conceived to mark the two decades since Mr Dufour unveiled his signature wristwatch, the anniversary Simplicity is very much like the classic version of the watch, but enhanced with various extras.

The 37 mm now includes a hinged, hunter case back, while the crown is topped with the “PD” logo. More obvious are the changes to the dial. While it retains the traditional guilloche and dauphine hands, the hour markers are now applied Breguet numerals and at 12 o’clock sits an extra-large “PD” emblem.

The Simplicity 20th Anniversary is a limited edition of 21 watches, or more specifically, an edition of 20 plus this watch that is numbered “00/20”. There will be seven each in platinum, rose as well as white gold.

The estimate on Simplicity “00/20” is 200,000-400,000 Swiss francs – reasonable relative to the record price recently set by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong – and it will be sold on November 8, 2020.

As for the other 20 examples of the edition, they will be delivered over the next two years, with the retail price yet to be determined.


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Auction Watch: Philippe Dufour Simplicity Sells for Record US$662,000

At Sotheby's Hong Kong auction.

Sotheby’s fall watch auction in Hong Kong included a diverse selection of independent watchmaking, including two examples of the Philippe Dufour Simplicity, both with silver guilloche dials.

The first to go on the block was a 37 mm specimen in white gold with a movement number of 68. It sold to a client represented by Joey Luk of Sotheby’s watch department for HK$3.528m including fees, which is a little over US$455,000. That was substantially above the US$250,000-300,000 range that the Simplicity had generally sold for, setting a new record for the model.

The next lot was a 34 mm Simplicity in platinum, numbered “100”. And then the record was broken.

After a few minutes of back and forth between an online bidder, as well as phone bidders represented by Ms Luk and John Chan, also of Sotheby’s watch department, Mr Chan’s bidder triumphed with a bid of HK$4.1m. Inclusive of fees, the total was HK$5.136m, or about US$662,000, well over double the most recent high for the Simplicity.

Part of the reason behind the price is rarity, not only absolute but also relative to other Simplicities. Platinum is unquestionably the rarest metal version for the watch, and 34 mm examples is are regarded to be fewer than 37 mm. The record price for both watches bode well for the Simplicity 20th Anniversary “00/20” – fresh from maker and offered by Mr Dufour himself – that will be sold at Phillips’ November auction in Geneva.


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Aquastar Introduces the Deepstar Chronograph

A vintage dive chronograph remade.

Originally founded in 1962 to capitalise on the popularity of leisure diving at the time, Aquastar specialised in making diving instruments and notched up several patents, such as a “no-decompression” bezel. But like the rest of the Swiss watch industry in the 1970s, the Aquastar suffered during the Quartz Crisis and faded away, although it never really died. Now it’s been resurrected and makes it debut with, unsurprisingly, a vintage remake with the Deepstar Chronograph.

Initial thoughts

The Deepstar is obviously a watch of the 1960s, with the angular, tonneau-shaped case and dial design giving away its origins. The retro-diver look is now back in vogue, which was no doubt a reason behind the revival of the brand.

And the popularity of the design is for good reason. It is clean and attractive, and unusual compared to today’s dive watches (although vintage remakes are increasingly common).

The vintage Deepstar

All of the best elements of the vintage original are found on the remake, including the oversized, “big eye” minute register. And though it’s larger than the 37 mm original – a necessity due to the La Joux-Perret movement inside – the remake is 40.5 mm, smallish by today’s standards, which means it still retains the vintage feel.

Aside from the true-to-original grey dial, the Deepstar is also offered in black and blue, with an “early-bird” price of US$2,790 (which rises to US$3,590 after the initial run of 300 pieces in each colour). The pre-order price is reasonable, especially given the movement.

It’s worth noting that the return of Aquastar is being shepherded by someone who has a track record with exactly this. Behind it is Rick Marei, who is best known as having led the revival of Doxa as a maker of vintage-style dive watches, but also responsible for the modern-day remakes of the Tropic and Isofrance diver’s watch straps.

Vintage look, modern mechanics

With an uptick in recreational diving during the postwar era, Aquastar was just one of many companies that capitalised on the trend. Founded by Frédéric Robert, a diving enthusiast himself, Aquastar also instruments such as depth gauges and watches to professionals like Jacques Cousteau and freediver Jacques Mayol.

The original Deepstar was a product of the era, when dive instruments were analogue and manually operated, explaining the chronograph and rotating, decompression bezel. Like the original, the remake has only a single defined register at three o’clock – for the all-important measurement of dive time – along with a discreet running seconds at nine o’clock. Another unusual detail are the oversized markers at the quarters for easy reading.

While modelled on the design of the original, the case appears modern and solid. Notably, the pushers can be activated underwater with no effect on the water tightness of the case. But like the original, the case has a thin middle with a domed back, helping it appear thinner on the wrist.

The components that make up the watch are made by suppliers in Switzerland and Germany. Most prominently, the movement is a LJP82010 from La Joux-Perret, the complications specialist best known for its chronograph calibres based on the Valjoux 7750. The LJP82010 is indeed based on the 7750, but upgraded to operate with a column wheel.

Key facts and price

Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph

Diameter: 40.5 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 200 m

Movement: La Joux-Perret LJP82010 (based on Valjoux 7750)
Functions: Time and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 55 hours

Strap: Rubber “Tropic” strap, additional Horween leather strap

Availability: Director from Aquastar starting October 2020
Price: US$3,590, with pre-order price of US$2,790

For more information, visit


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