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.
June 25 at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, that’s when and where you’ll want to be if you’re interested in watches, particularly Pateks. For three days prior to the auction, Antiquorum will make the 550 lots available for inspection. (view the virtual catalog)
Antiquorum touts the fact that this auction is “Patek-heavy,” it seems like very watch auction lately is, but that’s okay, I never tire of seeing Pateks, and I bet most aBlogToRead readers don’t either. Let’s take a look at three items from this auction and discuss what we might expect to see.
First up, it would be impossible to ignore Lot #550, a gold Patek perpetual calendar.
The lot is described as: “Patek Philippe, Ref. 2438-1 Second Generation Patek Philippe, Genève, ... Extremely fine and rare, astronomic, center seconds, water-resistant, 18K yellow gold wristwatch with perpetual calendar, moon phases and a Patek Philippe/Gay Frères expandable 18k yellow gold bracelet.” (see hi-def pic) Now, to eyes in 2011 weaned on 48mm+ Panerai, this thing isn’t really a looker. The bracelet has a Speidel Twist-O-Flex look to it, and frankly I wouldn’t trust the claimed water resistance at this point. But there’s no denying the provenance of an ultra-rare model from one of the finest manufactures, and this is the real thing. This watch is estimated to go for USD 190,000 - 260,000. I can see it getting that much or at least close to it, though I would be surprised if it turned into a major bidding war much beyond that point. The worldwide economic recovery seems tentative at best and there are signs (or at least fears) of another downturn.
How about Lot #19? A Breitling Genève "Top Time." (see hi-def pic) I’m a sucker for vintage retro models like this. 1970s funk? Check. Cushion case? Check. Baton hands? Check. Oval registers? Check. This lot is estimated at 1,300 USD - 1,700 USD, which seems amazingly low to me. Unless the pre-auction inspections determine the inside to be filled with rusty dust, I expect this Breitling to go for quite a bit more than that. I think new Navitimers list at several times that range. Collectors of 70s-era chronos should love this one!
And be sure not to miss Lot # 198, a pink gold DBR-S1, 8-Day watch from De Bethune (find two reviewed right here at aBlogToRead). De Bethune is one of my favorite modern brands. They are one of the few manufactures doing truly innovative designs recently, in my opinion. And they have what I think is the single-best moonphase implementation around (the DB28 as an example). The DBR-S1 offered here (see hi-def pic) is a stunner: 8-day movement and 3D moonphase display. It is wound at 12, reminding me of so many Bovet models. While not a tourbillon, it does have a display allowing wearers to see the beautiful escapement at work. Antiquorum estimates this to finalize at 23,000 USD - 36,000 USD and once again I see this as a bargain. You are not likely to see these on too many other wrists, and they offer real value in a world of copycat designs.
Do flip through the auction’s catalog if you get a chance. There really are a good number of reasonably priced (expected, anyway) lots in there for collectors of various genres. I also see a nice selection of LeCoultre clocks and Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos clocks worth checking out.
To wrap-up, while the last 8 months have seen some signs of a tentative economic recovery in the U.S. and Europe, the last few weeks have been less promising. Let’s hope that the recovery continues, and even if it doesn’t we’ll be left with a more good deals to snap-up; the Breitling described above is a fine example.