The Ticking Hands of Time 

Whilst the attention will always focus on the high end rarities, checking the auction catalogues can be worth doing  

Article by Rupert Watkins

Like all auctions, watch auctions invariably create a lot a razzmatazz, as the spotlight shines on the rarest of chronograph movements and the most limited run of editions. Given the country’s historic predominance in the industry as well, the main auction houses hold their watch sales (like most jewellery ones) in Geneva.

This weekend, on May 10th it is Phillips’ turn to hold its Geneva auction. With just over 220 lots, this is a substantial sale and one that the Phillips’ team expect to get a good deal of attention. Certainly when Riddle was invited to a press private viewing at the house’s gleaming new Berkeley Square headquarters, there are a number of very distinguished watches in this sale that demand attention. The eye was drawn to two Patek Philippes with auction estimates sitting fractionally over a quarter of a million and there is a wide selection of Rolexes.

However, despite the majority of watches sitting with auction estimates well into six figures, careful perusing of the sales catalogue does reveal some bargains. Should the reader be looking for a new watch and feel nothing new quite catches their eye, it may be worth glancing over the Phillips sale. Riddle spotted a varied (in brand and type) number at rather reasonable estimates:

  • 1967 Rolex Stainless steel Submariner with original guarantee and rating certificate. £5,550 – 9,700
  • 1948 Omega Chronometre in 18k pink gold with two tone dial. £2,040 – 3,430
  • 1953 Vacheron Constantin in 18k white gold with leather strap. Caibre V477. £2,770 – 4,160
  • 1956 Patek Philippe, square faced in 18k yellow gold. Leather strap. £4,800 – 6,200
  • 1950 Bovet flyforward chronograph in stainless steel. £1,390 – 2,040
  • 2012 Jaeger Le Coultre Grand Reverso Ultra thin 1931 Special Edition Rouge £2,040 – 3,430

As with all auctions, there’s no guarantee these stay within their estimates and should you be keen to dabble – remember the buyer’s premium. Clearly should you budget be fractionally higher – up to £25,000 – there are some exceedingly fine offerings (though this writer would still go for the 2012 Jaeger Le Coultre…). That said, any budding watch collectors would certainly do well to glance over the offerings and follow the sale online to get a feel for the market.

Be aware catalogue estimate prices are in Euros, Swiss Francs and Dollars NOT GBP.  riddle_stop 2

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