«SI’m speechless. But what is certain is that watches today are full of protagonists in the world of auctions such as contemporary art and vintage cars»: Aurel Bacs This is how he recalls the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: XIV auction with Bacs & Russo which he was auctioneer on November 5 and 7, an event that has already made history because it raised the highest figure ever: 64.5 million euros. “I did not expect to exceed by almost double the auction that I considered the most important of my career, the one that in May had marked the previous record, of 34.7 million euros,” he adds.
From Puerto Rico to Cambodia, new countries in the field
This pursuit of ever higher figures is a symptom of the perfect health of watch auctions: according to data collected by The Mercury Project in the Hammertrack report, in the first half of 2021 the watch auctions of Antiquorum, Bonhams, Christie’s, Poly Auction, Sotheby’s and Phillips recorded + 239%, equal to approximately 221 million euros, compared to the same period in 2020 and + 49% on the pre-pandemic 2019. Three thousand people from 83 countries participated in the record auction beaten by Bacs, including unusual ones such as Puerto Rico, Vietnam, Cambodia. The first 12 pieces exceeded one million Swiss francs, just under one million euros: “The value does not derive from the age, rarity, materials of a piece, but from how much an amateur is willing to spend to get it” says Bacs. Among the stars of the auction, the record went to Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie n ° 1, but the most expensive Omega ever, the 1957 Speedmaster “Tropical Broad Arrow” and a rare Patek Philippe ref. . 2499 Serpico y Laino, also from the 1950s.
The $ 17.7 million vintage Paul Newman
Christie’s “The Legends of Time” auction in Hong Kong last May 22, with pieces dated between 1815 (a Piguet & Meylan pocket watch) and 1985 (Patek Philippe ref. 3450) totaled € 28 million . And from 1953 are the watches that illuminated the “Rare Watches” auction on November 8, a very rare Patek Philippe Ref. 2523 World Time and the Rolex Deep Sea Special No. 1, which is believed to have accompanied one of the depth expeditions of Auguste Piccard with the bathyscaphe Trieste. The top lot of the Sotheby’s auction in Geneva on November 9th was a Rolex Ref. 6264, one of 10 yellow gold “Paul Newman” Daytona “John Player Special” models produced between the 60s and 70s, sold for 997 thousand dollars. And a Paul Newman still remains the most expensive vintage watch ever, sold by Bacs in 2017 in New York for over 17.7 million dollars.
Bacs: when a watch is “watched special”
«Making predictions for the future today is impossible, especially with such quantity and variety of participants – he continues -, but some indications can still be grasped. For instance, when one watch doesn’t go up in price for 4-5 years, while the others double, buying it is a smart move. A Rolex Daytona, to make a name, has not risen this season compared to six months ago. In any case, I believe that the beauty of collecting is that it offers space for all tastes, united by a passion for art. A beautiful auction is never monotonous, offers many different things, and makes us understand how all the watchmaking is linked. A contemporary Richard Mille in ceramic is closely related to a Patek from the 1940s. To connect everything, and to attract more and more people to auctions, it is not only the desire to invest, but something much less rational: love ».