Breaking News: Michael Schumacher’s AP Royal Oak, F.P. Journe Vagabondage at Christie’s

Unique watches made for the Formula 1 champion.

The spring sale season that kicks off in Geneva come mid May will no doubt include many top lots across the three major auction houses, but Christie’s will claim two of the most compelling watches to go on the block: an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph and F.P. Journe Vagabondage, both unique pieces made for Michael Schumacher.

Gifts from longtime Scuderia Ferrari manager Jean Todt, each watch features a custom dial commemorating Mr Schumacher’s unprecedented streak of Formula 1 world championships, as well as commemorative engraving on the back.

The pair come straight from the Schumacher collection, consigned by his family along with a handful of other watches. Mr Schumacher’s watches will be offered at Christie’s Rare Watches auction taking place on May 13, 2024 in Geneva.

Initial thoughts

I follow F1 casually and I usually don’t like watches with emblems on the dial – the Vagabondage has 11 logos on the hour scale – but these two watches are exceptionally desirable in my eyes, particularly the Vagabondage, which is incredible for its rarity and provenance.

The watches capture Mr Schumacher’s remarkable racing career – his seven world championships tie him with Lewis Hamilton as the all-time record holders – evoking the glamour and prestige of Formula 1 but also the longstanding association between watchmakers and auto racing that arguably started with sports chronographs like the Daytona and Carrera in the 1960s.

At the same time, the watches illustrate the relationship between Jean Todt and Michael Schumacher, a partnership that produced an unbroken, five-year winning streak that is perhaps the greatest of all time.

Christie’s sold much of Mr Todt’s watch collection in 2022, and within the collection were many watches that were gifts from Mr Schumacher, reflecting their shared hobby. I appreciate the significance and story of these watches; I bid on several of the watches in the Jean Todt sale (though not this Centigraphe).

The F.P. Journe Centigraphe with a Ferrari red dial made for Jean Todt that sold for over US$2 million including fees

While the two Schumacher watches will definitely appeal to F1 fans, they are also interesting for watch enthusiasts. Notably, Mr Schumacher is a genuine watch aficionado himself, not merely a celebrity with expensive watches. This is also reflected in the condition of the two watches in the sale. Both show wear enough wear to indicate they were worn fairly often.

I remember about 18 years ago, during a meeting with Rolf Schnyder, the late owner of Ulysse Nardin, he pulled out a photograph – yes, an actual printed photo as things were back then – of himself skydiving with Mr Schumacher. Schnyder explained he got to know the F1 champion as a client and watch collector, and subsequently they often hung out as friends. Knowing Schnyder’s personality, that meant Mr Schumacher actually liked watches.

Commemorative the wins

According to Remi Guillemin, Christie’s head of watches for Europe, the genesis of the Michael Schumacher auction occurred some time in 2022 when Corinna Schumacher, Michael’s wife, got in touch with him. She, along with their two children, Mick and Gina, had decided to part with some of Mr Schumacher’s collection since the rest of the family are not watch enthusiasts as he is.

The watches that will be offered in May 2024 represent only part of the collection, although they are important watches. The first was a Christmas gift in 2003 from Jean Todt, a Audemars Piguet (AP) Royal Oak Chronograph ref. 25960BC in 18k white gold with a white dial featuring the square hour markers typical of the model for that period.

The chronograph registers, however, are each printed with F1 symbols: the Schumacher helmet at nine, Ferrari’s prancing horse at six, and six stars along with “1” at three o’clock. The stars represent the six world championships won by Mr Schumacher up till 2003. The case back is similarly engraved with the years of each of his wins, along with a Christmas dedication from Mr Todt.

Both men have a longstanding relationship with AP. Mr Schumacher participated in the development of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept Laptimer bearing his name, while several of the AP watches in the 2022 Jean Todt auction were ordered by Mr Schumacher as gifts for the Mr Todt.

The Royal Oak Chronograph has an estimate of CHF150,000-250,000.

More unique is the F.P. Journe Vagabondage I in platinum. Like the Royal Oak, this was a Christmas gift from Jean Todt, but in 2004, after Mr Schumacher claimed his seventh world championship, enshrining him as the all-time record holder in F1, a feat equalled but not surpassed by Lewis Hamilton.

This was delivered after the three unique pieces in gold debuted in 2003, but before the serially produced limited edition of 2006, making it a true one-off. Mr Schumacher received this after the original trio of Vagabondage I watches – one in each colour of gold – had been sold at Antiquorum in April 2004.

The proceeds of the sale went to Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière (ICM), a medical research facility in Paris dedicated to nervous system and spinal cord disorders and injuries. Both Messrs Schumacher and Todt were cofounders of ICM, explaining the historical relationship between them, F.P. Journe, and the Vagabondage watch.

Besides the platinum case – instead of the gold cases used for the examples sold at auction – this watch is evidently unique because of the dial. The “wandering” hours scale is in Ferrari red, as opposed to the dark grey used for the auction trio and the limited edition that followed.

The scale bears seven “V” emblems for each of Mr Schumacher’s world championships, along with his helmet and the Scuderia Ferrari Logo. Equally important is the dedication engraved on the 18k red gold going train bridge of the movement that reads “X-Mas 2004 – Jean Todt for my friend Michael Schumacher”.

The Vagabondage I is estimated at CHF1.0-2.0 million.

The AP Royal Oak Chronograph and Vagabondage I, along with other watches from the collection of Michael Schumacher, will be sold on May 13 at Christie’s Rare Watches sale in Geneva. For more, visit


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