Specialist watch auctioneers were fast to adopt the internet format when Covid-19 set paid to the type of”mass parties” which are an intrinsic aspect of almost any live sale full of excitement, suspense and competition.
However, now there’s good news for anyone missing the buzz of this saleroom, because live watch auctions return, albeit reluctantly.
Antiquorum and Phillips will be the first to ship actual, live auctioneers on the rostrum to confront a (probably restricted ) audience of actual, live bidders at the end of the month in order to run the flagship sales originally scheduled to occur in May.
With Europe steadily returning to”business as usual”, it is likely that buyers may cross boundaries to attend the sales, although social distancing restrictions mean neither will be allowed to develop into”standing room only” affairs, and it is going to still be possible to set commission bids or take part online or by phone.
Phillips kicks off event on 27 June with a two-day, 214-lot sale, replete with Rolex and Patek Philippe bits — such as several examples of the latter’s most Aquanaut sports watch which has profited from the slipstream of towering otherworldly worth.
2 from 2005, using unique vivid blue and”prune” dials, are on offer at estimates of Sfr 30,000-60,000, although a very early (1998) navy-blue variant made for the Japanese market is up for Sfr 20,000-40,000.
Among more recent offers is a pink-gold, blue-dial IWC Portugieser flyback chronograph made as a special variant for its brand’s Milan boutique (Sfr 15,000-25,000) and also an as-new 2020 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona using a distinctive dark-green dial that is tipped to realise around Sfr 40,000.
Collectable plenty by modern, independent manufacturers include an”Anniversary” bit from Vianney Halter that was produced in 2018 to mark ten years since he produced a watch under his own name. It is estimated at Sfr 15,000-25,000, while number one of those 25 platinum-cased Harry Winston Opus Threes (also made by Halter ) could draw around Sfr 120,000.
Other independents represented comprise Kari Voutilainen, MB&F, Laurent Ferrier, Ludovic Ballouard, Thomas Prescher and Habring, the eponymous manufacturer set up by Austria’s award-winning husband and wife team Richard and Maria. An illustration of their”Habring2″ model, created in a run of ten to get a watch and wine collecting group, is estimated at just Sfr 3,000-5,000.
Antiquorum’s sale on 28 June will include five watches consigned with a UK collector, one of which are three quintessential 1960s versions. A 1969 Rolex watches Submariner with”tropical” faded dial along with”meters ” markings will be offered complete with its original box, accessories and papers (Sfr 40,000-60,000) along with a 1968 Heuer Skipper sailing watch — again with its box (Sfr 25,000-35,000) — and a 1961 Vulcain Cricket Nautical that is still teamed with its own factory-supplied diving booklet (Sfr 15,000-20,000).
One of the most historically interesting watches, however, is a Vacheron Constantin Reference 4195 that was awarded by Argentine heroine Eva Perón into daredevil Spanish pilot Fernando Rein Loring, who, in 1933, became the first individual to make the 16,000km flight from Madrid to Manila. Determined by back the case, it is going to be sold with a enamel and gold trophy commemorating the trip and may realise up to Sfr 15,000.
But Geneva is not the only place where you are going to find a live watch market this month, because specialist house Dr Crott will hold its postponed May sale in Mannheim on 29 June.
Normally, the hefty 568-lot catalogue covers the entire range of horological tastes from an early 17th-century tabernacle clock into one of those 150 Hublot”Big Bang Zermatt” unique variations made in 2017 and comprising a 3cm section from a rope discovered frozen in the snow 4,320 metres up the Matterhorn ($15,000-22,000).
Among numerous other contemporary watches around for grabs is a mint state Zenith El Primero flyback chronograph in white gold that’s one of 50 made ($25,000-30,000), a steel Cartier Pasha from 1994 ($1,600-2,500) and an example of Vacheron Constantin’s Historiques American 1921 diver watches ($20,000-28,000).
Groovy 1970s layouts, meanwhile, include a gilt Heuer Carrera with a rare gold-striped dial ($2,000-3,000), a golden Breitling Chrono-Matic within an of-the-era tonneau-shaped case and an unusual Grand Seiko using hi-beat movement along with a Toyota-branded dial ($1,600-3,000).
The star of the series, however, appears set for a 2017 example of A Lange & Sohne’s mind-boggling 684-part Tourbograph Perpetual Pour Le Mérite. The platinum-cased marvel, one of 50 made, is called being at”near mint” condition and could be in your wrist to get somewhere between $180,000 and $400,000.