The following timepiece auction analysis post is by Chris Meisenzahl. He is a long-time watch enthusiast and daily Speedmaster Pro wearer. He blogs at The Pretense of Knowledge and can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/speedmaster.
Coming up on November 13th the good folks at Antiquorum will host the latest “Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces” auction. This one is to be held at The Mandarin Oriental in Geneva. The highlight and star of the event is clearly the “Patek Philippe full 24-hour repeating, quarter and special-type five-minute repeating 24-hours in one revolution” pocket watch, circa 1894. This will be no small event, the catalog lists over 600 items.
I know that most Pateks are too tame by Paneristi standards, and I guess the standards of many sports-watch fans, but I can’t get enough of Patek. 😉
This Patek described above is one of those over-the-top vintage pieces that we see as the cornerstone of every large auction.
“… the recently discovered Patek Philippe full 24-hour repeating, quarter and special-type five-minute repeating 24-hours in one revolution pocket watch. This exceptional watch was originally sold to Monsieur E. Hoesch, Villa Barbaia, Mergellina, Naples, on November 27, 1894 for 3750 Swiss Francs. It is a highly important 18K pink gold, keyless pocket watch with perpetual calendar, chronograph, moon phases, and lunar calendar accompanied by the original certificate of origin and Patek Philippe sales receipt.”
It kind of reminds me a of a poor-man’s “Henry Graves” Patek. The estimate for this watch is Sfr 200’000- 300’000, roughly USD $228,000 – $343,000. My guess is that it will fall neatly in the middle of that range.
Item #30, is an Omega Blue Seamaster chronograph from 1972 (Ref. ST 176.004). This piece is from the heart of the funky era of cushion shaped cases and funky 60s and 70s diver’s watches. The estimate is USD $1,300 – $2,700. This is a relatively rare model and collectible, more than just a nice vintage piece. Recent examples have gone for more than the high-end of this range elsewhere. I expect this watch to easily hit $2,500+, maybe a lot more. My only concern is that with 600+ items in the auction, some things might get lost in the shuffle as bidders get weary.
[See items #227 & #228 for Rolex/Comex Sea Dwellers, in fact this auction has a good number of vintage Rolex to check out]
Item #43 is a Jaeger LeCoultre Master Compressor GMT Diver, Ref. 160.T.05. It’s a beautiful modern JLC diver’s watch with GMT functionality. And what else? The case is titanium, and … it was produced in a limited edition of only 1500 pieces in 2010. The estimate for this diver is USD $4,500 – $4,800. Two things strike me about this estimate, the range is oddly narrow, and I think it’s low. If it holds, it’s a steal at that price. Check out a similar model, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Diving Automatic Navy SEALs Watch.
[For fans of the JLC Atmos, as I am, there are several flavors of this iconic clock available, see page 41 of the auction catalog for a few.]
Item #238 is the Patek Philippe Ref. 5980/1A. It was sold new in December of 2008. It’s “very fine and rare,” (this seems to be a common theme). The bottom line is that we’re looking at a very modern automatic Patek flyback chronograph w/ a 12-hour register. Expect to pay dearly, and if you can swing it, you will be rewarded. This is the top of the heap when it comes to chronograph movements. The estimate is USD $$30,000 – $40,000. I think this is dead-on, to maybe slightly low. These can be hard to find and this could be an opportunity if you’re on the hunt. And unlike the Speedmaster Professional (a measly 30m, at best) this Patek is water-resistant to 120m. So you can wear it to Disney World with the family, and in the pool at the Ritz-Carlton as you make your way home from the auction. This is pure class.
[The Occupy Wall Street theme is strangely absent from this auction, not a Mao or Che dial to be found]
The recent 2011 Only Watch auction was a bit of a disappointment and perhaps an indicator of the economics woes we see lately. This latest November auction is huge and the selection of watches is about as broad as it gets with respect to prices, brands, and styles. There’s really no way to succinctly summarize the pieces. And as mentioned above, I see a large number of vintage Rolex watches in this auction, so that crowd is likely to be closely watching this one.If you have even a little cash to spend there’s something in this auction to interest you: modern dress watches, vintage sports pieces, Atmos clocks, pocket watches, etc. But even if you don’t have the money to part with at the moment, take a look through the catalog to see what whets your appetite, and follow the results. You may see a collecting theme or specific model to chase in future auctions. Oh, and the vintage military piece pictured at the top of this post? It’s item #436, “IWC Ref. 431, B UHR, WWII Luftwaffe.” Translation? A rare over-sized (55mm) pilot’s watch made by IWC for the German air forces in WWII.