JR: In celebration of Patek Philippe’s milestone anniversary, it was very important to me and to Christie’s that we honor the company in a way that showcases their rich history, and that we present a selection of watches appropriate for such a celebration.
Our concept for the Patek Philippe anniversary was simple in concept, and complex in execution – we first put together a list of the 100 watches and wristwatches that best tell the story of Patek Philippe’s history – key watches that represent an important patent, key wristwatch references that changed the market, and key crafts such as enameling, jewel-setting, etc. The next step was finding these 100 watches… that was where the real work began. We scoured the world for the best of the best examples – we were truly ‘treasure hunting.’ If we found several examples of the same reference, we had to make tough decisions.
We believe the end result is simply incredible – almost two-thirds of the watches in the sale are fresh to market, meaning these are pieces that have never showed up at auction before. Pieces which are fresh to the market from the 1860s is rather exciting for the watch world… fresh to the market from 1939 is equally exciting, especially when it is steel sector chronograph Ref. 530, as an example. Page after page, this massive hard cover catalog is full of surprises – it is a stunning visual history of the brand’s continuing creative and technical prowess.
People are still talking about Antiquorum’s 150th anniversary sale from 1989, a sale that arguably helped make Patek Philippe the powerhouse it is today. We want this sale to represent the next milestone in Patek’s history. It is my privilege to help tell their story.
AA: Tell me about some of the star watches in the 175th Anniversary auction, why you chose them, and why you feel collector’s should be enthused by them?
We have only announced a handful of the highlights at this point in time, and everyone is buzzing about the pink gold first series Ref. 2499, the yellow gold Ref. 2523 worldtime with blue enamel center dial, the 1563J from Jean Claude Biver, and the George Poston Ref. 3499 Tre Scalini, to name a few… But the real excitement will be when the world sees the other watches in the sale. The catalog will be released in mid-October. Imagine a dead mint and complete new old stock stainless steel Ref. 3700 – we have one. How about a triangular-shaped bracelet watch made in the 1970s – we have the ONLY one. Now, imagine a new old stock Ref. 3450 complete with box, papers, hangtags, extra date disks and gaskets – we have one.
Estimates are anywhere from $1,000 to almost $1.75M USD, so there are watches for collectors at every price point in this sale. Every one of the 100 lots in the sale will be accompanied by a specially struck silver commemorative coin, with the lot number engraved on each coin, and watches will be delivered with a custom-fitted Patek Philippe 175 Christie’s wooden presentation box.
AA: Do you find that more and more people are getting into collecting Patek Philippe watches, or is this really still a small, but dedicated community that help make auction record headlines?
JR: New enthusiasts are learning about collecting Patek Philippe and other brands every day, and new buyers are participating at auction for the first time in significant numbers. 25 years ago, our world was truly a relatively small world, made up of a handful of major collectors and dealers. Today, our community is truly an international market with new players joining in every day. Just looking at your blog, and the thousands of people who read ABTW, it shows how the collective knowledge of the watch community is growing exponentially. At every auction, I am delighted to meet new watch buyers, many of whom say they wished they had taken the leap into auction long ago. Now they attend the previews, bid online or in person, and are having the time of their life chasing the watch of their dreams.
AA: Last question: A lot of people use items like art and timepieces to help diversify otherwise more traditional investment portfolios. First, what advice do you normally give people who are looking to use watches as an investment vehicle, and what percentage of a portfolio would you say is appropriate to be filled with such “alternative investments” such as fine timepieces?
JR: Great question. My wife is from the financial world and advises that the best way to invest is with traditional investment vehicles such as stocks and bonds. As an expert in horology, I would advise to go 100% with watches since you should just invest in what you know. I expect the right answer is someplace in between.
Any potential investment advice in this article is the opinion of the statement maker only, and not necessarily of the article author or of this publication.