In The market's eye

This November annual session stirred up the world of the collectors. As I said it to you in my last article “The Expert’s Eye”, records could well be beaten and it was the case! You did not miss it certainly, once again Patek Philippe was awarded a golden palm at Phillips with the team Bacs & Russo for more than 11 million Swiss francs. A new world record for a wristwatch.

A large selection of pieces signed mostly by Rolex and Patek Philippe spotted by specialists and auctioneers in each auction house, these two star brands bringing more and more competition among an international community of collectors.

Phillips :

Phillips reaches a record auction result this year with only 177 pieces sold for a total of 27 395 479,44 USD, all was made possible by the record price of a Patek Philippe representing alone 40 % of the sale. Average lot value was consequently 154 776,72 USD, an incredible result beyond normal standards at auction.

The watch collector’s community was largely shaken over the week end 12/13th November with lot 38 in the first evening session of Phillips, the legendary 1518 in steel of which 4 examples are known, was back at auction where after 10 minutes of intense bidding, finally found a new owner.

Other lots which I had spotted such as a watch La Spirotechnique by Triton, a brand full of hope with its young new owner Jean Sébastien Coste, as well as a Rolex GMT Master “Pepsi”, a collector’s piece by all means, both stayed within the range of estimates at 8 665 USD and 34 662 USD for Triton and Rolex respectively.

Rolex evidently was also very prominent in this auction especially with two chronographs, both Oyster Cosmograph models, one so called « Panda » with retailer’s signature « Tiffany & Co. » and the other « Paul Newman » with « Linz », each reaching 874 000 USD. However Patek Philippe is definitely the winner way beyond its direct opponents during this exceptional auction.

It should be noted also that Phillips had a room packed with a large international community of collectors, a strong element in today’s world where auctions are largely dominated in some ways by digital transactions or live bidding online, presumably the evolution towards a show is very important, Aurel Bacs once again led the room with his legendary talent as an auctioneer.

Antiquorum :

In total 388 lots were sold in Geneva at Antiquorum with a total value of 5,288,579.33 USD, giving an average lot value of 13,630.35 USD. Compared to other auction houses, Antiquorum did not really do well in the battle Patek Philippe vs Rolex, while on the whole strong results were achieved on vintage watches from many different brands like Omega. As a consequence 30 lots sold for Patek Phillipe, totaling 956,100 USD and for Rolex 831,269 USD.

Lot 270, a Jumbo Audemars Piguet was sold for 31,000 USD thus remaining within the estimate range given by the auctioneer Julien Schaerer. On the other hand, lots 463 and 559 for Breguet and Rolex exceeded all expectations, especially for Rolex.

The Breguet chronograph was estimated between 18,000 and 28,000 USD and was finally sold for 37,200 USD. Marking the early age of wristwatches, this piece has been recognized at its true value by collectors.

The pre-Daytona Rolex, sold for 302,000 USD and one of the highlights of this last Geneva session, as I pointed out earlier this month, achieved a very strong result well above its pre sale estimate, it is exactly what the market is looking for today and all avid collectors and connoisseurs spotted this very rare example instantly.

Christie’s :

Christie’s also performed very well with 315 lots sold for 14,634,981.36 USD, bringing the average value for each lot up to 46,460.25 USD, making it the second best selling Geneva auction this season. If we take out the world record of 11 million USD at Phillips, both auction houses are now very close.

I selected for you these three lots which on the whole were pretty well sold :

Lot 33, for 37,500 USD with a low estimate of 10,000 USD. Very interesting result because this Vacheron Constantin is now becoming a must have for all collectors worldwide following all the trends launched by sports models like Nautilus.

Lot 39, a rare Audemars Piguet minute repeating wristwatch which sold for 383,788 USD and remaining within the range of the estimate made by the auctioneer (254,000-508,000 USD).

And lot 322, a rare and probably unique Nautilus surmounted by diamonds on the dial and bezel, sold for 638 636 USD, which also remained within the estimate range. Rolex and Patek Phillipe sales were successful with 64 and 95 lots sold respectively, totaling  3,206,526 USD sold for Rolex and 8,443,331 USD for Patek Phillipe. This amount reached for Patek Philippe shows once gain the interest of collectors and watch enthusiasts in a sale largely devoted to the Nautilus, celebrating its 40th anniversary.

This Christie’s sale was definitely one of the strongest this season in Geneva, demonstrating the work and involvement of the team under the leadership of Thomas Perazzi, who is now the best challenger to Aurel Bacs.

Sothebys :

With a total of 277 lots sold for 7,054,543.41 USD, the average lot value reached 25,467.66 USD. All different lots that I had spotted for you such as Patek Phillipe and Breguet were sold within the range of estimates made by specialists, whereas Rolex fetched a much higher than expected, mostly due to its exceptional tropical dial :

Lots 309 (Patek Phillipe Calatrava) and 214 (Breguet ‘montre à tact’) were sold at 50,197 USD each, while the Rolex Milgauss (lot 250) first generation with a magnificent dial, so called « tropical » only visible hands on during the exhibition, finally sold for 213,337 USD.

In total, 42 Patek Phillipe and 28 Rolex were largely disputed by all collectors during this Geneva session. Totals show an average of USD 991,591 for Rolex and USD 1,608,215 for Patek Phillipe, which clearly demonstrates the supremacy of these two brands representing a third of the total sale value.

It is interesting to note that Sotheby’s has done well by finishing in third position on the podium with a catalog focused mainly on modern watches but also having a few rare highlights in vintage like this Rolex Milgauss, a real Beauty alike the Pre-Daytona at Antiquorum.

Ending this last session in Geneva, Phillips clearly made a statement to the whole community of collectors with a new world record for a wristwatch. Patek Philippe once again has shown that it is the King of watch auctions, while only two years ago history was made with the highest price ever for a timepiece ; the Graves Supercomplication sold at Sotheby’s in November 2014. This time was the turn of the most expensive wristwatch ever. Aurel Bacs being the auctioneer while two years ago, was this time the last bidder in the room.

It is now a good equilibrium in the Patek Philippe Hall of Fame. If Patek Philippe and Rolex are definitely star brands on the auction block, it is also worth noting the good performance of other brands like Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Breguet, Omega in other categories, the important being the quality which is the only thing that matters for the collector’s eye.

This year again, Geneva reassures its world supremacy with a total amount for both seasons in May and November of more than 100 million USD, which is a very strong sign for the watch market globally, Geneva remaining the world capital for watch auctions. Hats off all auctionneers, The expert’s eye congratulates you for this great year 2016 !

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