Should you have been there, you received’t neglect it quickly. And when you weren’t, you’re nonetheless going to be listening to about it for a really very long time certainly.
The November 2021 Geneva public sale week will probably be remembered because the cut-off date at which both the worth of collectible watches reached a brand new plateau from which they solely continued to climb, or the bubble in costs for items from sure makers reached its most outrageous dimensions earlier than deflating or imploding. I’m undecided which is the case, but it surely was definitely enjoyable to be there and to share the expertise with a number of of my watch buddies.
I arrived on the Sunday night previous to the public sale week, and on Monday and Tuesday mornings busied myself with visits to a number of boutiques, together with a leisurely keep having fun with the brand new timepieces and chiming watches on the Patek Philippe salon and a two-hour gabfest with my previous pals on the MB&F MAD Gallery along with a prolonged viewing session on the Sotheby’s public sale preview.
As soon as the remainder of our core group from the NorCal Gang arrived on Tuesday afternoon, it was time to satisfy up for a fast drink after which dinner with one of many true watch good guys, Ludovic Ballouard.
It’s all in regards to the folks! Ballouard was sort sufficient to take us by way of tales of a few of his successes and daunting challenges, sharing images of some mind-blowing customized variations on his Upside Down and Half Time watches, together with the “phonograph turntable” Half Time that subsequently bought for CHF 140,000 at Solely Watch later within the week in opposition to an estimate vary of CHF 40,000 to 60,000.
Whereas that sounds – and is – outstanding, it’s just one instance of the myriad watches that shattered their estimate ranges in the course of the week. In what grew to become one other recurring theme, Ballouard advised us that his manufacturing capability is absolutely dedicated for the foreseeable future – in his case, to the extent that he’s discovering it robust to put aside time to work on his subsequent references.
I started the formal assault on my digestive system with a dish containing some substantial proportion of the Swiss annual cheese manufacturing, and we ended the night with a pledge to go to the Ballouard workshop on our subsequent journey.
The theme of watchmaker interactions accelerated on Wednesday when a New York buddy who was a 2021 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève juror joined the 4 of us for a visit to Fleurier to see Kari Voutilainen’s new mountaintop atelier, a transformed former restaurant with a surprising view.
As you may count on from Voutilainen all the things is totally top quality, from the re-created picket paneling and moldings to the ethereal working areas and the road of rose engines arrange in a room that stands instantly on the mountain’s bedrock, minimizing vibrations.
After a full tour and earlier than heading off for lunch, we entered the room the place Voutilainen presents watches to their new house owners and encountered a touching show: the signed print of the six Masterpiece Chronograph IIs commissioned by our group, now framed and hanging for all guests to see.
And whereas we have been there, it appeared solely becoming that one among our members take supply of his new watch: a fantastic-looking distinctive Vingt-8 Inverse with chrome steel case and “humid-blasted” palms whose legibility far outstripped that of these of the usual model worn by one other member of our group.
One of many nice issues about having a considerably unstructured week (no less than relative to, say, the weeks of Watches and Wonders or Baselworld with their inflexible schedules) is that it’s doable to name an audible infrequently. As we departed from lunch in Môtiers, one among our gang dropped a textual content to Vianney Halter to see whether or not we would cease by his short-term quarters in Ste. Croix, and we quickly discovered ourselves within the pleasant mechanical jumble that Halter inhabits – a whole distinction to the ordered world of Voutilainen.
Halter was in high quality type, and with out revealing an excessive amount of I can say that he’s engaged on no less than one new launch and performing some empirical analysis on the phenomenon of resonance.
Again into city and to an occasion I’ve been wanting ahead to for a very long time: an atelier go to and dinner with Rexhep Rexhepi and accomplice Annabelle together with the supply of the really splendid Chronomètre Contemporain 01 to 2 members of our group, myself included. You’ll be able to definitely count on a “Why I Purchased It” on this piece as soon as I’ve lived with it for a short time, however I can say that it lives as much as each expectation I had.
I used to be greater than delighted to strap it onto my wrist for dinner and all through the rest of the week.
Awards, auctions, and extra watchmakers
On Thursday, we tooled out to La Reserve for the Phillips preview, the place we had the chance to deal with the highest heaps and different items of curiosity. I held in my hand, and chimed, the watch I believed I might need a tiny probability of taking residence with me: the Grande et Petite Sonnerie pocket watch No. 1 by Philippe Dufour.
I had been kicking myself since 2012 after I was the underbidder on the No. 1 sonnerie pocket watch that Dufour made for Audemars Piguet, a bit that bought for the amazingly low (hindsight being 20:20) value of $173,000 – a considerable sum on the time for a pocket watch, however small potatoes right this moment given the latest mania surrounding the highest unbiased makers. I got here to Geneva with a quantity significantly greater than that in thoughts and a listing of watches I used to be absolutely ready to promote if profitable to fund the exploit; we might see in the course of the Sunday public sale whether or not I’d succeed or not.
There’s one thing actually nice about sitting in a preview room with pals, passing watches backwards and forwards, and chatting with different pals and public sale home members who go by. I knew I’d missed it, besides was shocked by how nice it felt to be again into the routine.
We lastly tore ourselves away from the preview for lunch with younger independents Gaël Petermann and Florian Bédat, winners of the Revelation Prize on the 2020 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève and creators of the fantastically completed Reference 1967 leap hour watch. They’ve not too long ago introduced a second collection of this reference in titanium with a blue dial, restricted to 25 examples and scheduled for manufacturing over the subsequent 36 months. I’ll neither affirm nor deny that three members of our group will probably be counting the times till their watches are able to put on.
Bédat and Petermann have been tight-lipped about their subsequent mission, saying solely that will probably be “extra sophisticated” and prone to be introduced in spring of 2022. I can’t wait to see what these two have up their sleeves given how spectacular Reference 1967 is.
As soon as again in downtown Geneva, we headed for the 4 Seasons and the Solely Watch and Christie’s previews. We have been allowed to deal with only some of the Solely Watch items however discovered all fairly spectacular; particularly I can say that the F.P. Journe/Coppola “hand” watch appears to be like significantly better in individual than in images, with the sophisticated gear practice seen on the left of the dial including substantial visible curiosity.
We have been additionally graced with a fast go to by Mr. Solely Watch himself, Luc Pettavino, who was clearly working on adrenaline by this level within the week however was as charming as at all times and is for my part the pure embodiment of charity in motion.
At Christie’s, my eye was drawn to a really clear wanting Patek Philippe Reference 533 chronograph from 1951 bearing a surprisingly low estimate (in fact, within the aftermath of the weekend it appears that the majority estimates have been low). On this occasion, nonetheless, we realized that the watch has a later (however appropriate) service dial, holding its worth down. I’ll come again someday to the subject of correctness vs. originality, however the watch appeared an ideal wearer to me, and I made a psychological observe to be within the room on Monday for its public sale.
It was virtually time to go off for the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève ceremony, however first I had a fast assembly with watchmaker Luca Soprana to catch up. Soprana might not but be a family identify, however he’s the constructor behind the scenes for a lot of watches you do know and most not too long ago he collaborated with William Massena on the Massena Lab Previous Faculty watch.
Our Quill & Pad contributor household has already revealed its ideas on the GPHG outcomes; whether or not one agreed or disagreed with the jury’s decisions, I don’t suppose that anybody will dispute that it was unbelievable to be in the identical room with so many esteemed members of the watch group as soon as once more. And later within the night, it was nice enjoyable to mingle with pals previous and new at a watering gap close to the positioning of the awards ceremony, even when I did get up the subsequent day with a hoarse voice from shouting over the din.
Phillips Geneva Watch Public sale: XIV
What can one say about Phillips’ fourteenth Geneva watch public sale on Friday and Sunday? Each lot bought (with an help from the re-opening of the one unsold lot when “somebody who was attempting to bid earlier” conveniently surfaced), and estimate ranges have been usually merely beginning factors for greater and better bidding.
I’ll reduce to the chase on my aspirations: when bidding opened on Sunday for lot 145, the Dufour pocket watch, my battle chest was swamped instantly by a gap bid of 1 million Swiss Francs, with the lot ultimately promoting for CHF 2,329,000 – greater than $2.5 million.
Two different heaps I fancied additionally eluded me by important margins. I’ve lengthy needed a Cartier thriller clock, and lot 226A appeared a superb newer instance at a fairly cheap estimate vary of CHF 25,000 to 45,000. Cheap, certainly: the lot bought for CHF 340,200!
Lastly, there was a super-clean Patek Philippe Reference 2497, lot 184, that will have been simply pretty to have at its low estimate of CHF 150,000 however went for a totally deserved CHF 365,400.
One factor I discovered significantly spectacular in regards to the conduct of the Phillips public sale was that the auctioneer of auctioneers, Aurel Bacs, stepped apart for appreciable durations of time to permit youthful members of his crew to wield the gavel. Particularly in such a supercharged environment, I discovered this dedication to growing future expertise hanging. And in Clara Kessi, I believe Bacs has a star of the longer term who already melds command of the proceedings, the capability to keep up a brisk tempo, the flexibility to interact bidders, and a prepared smile to make the gross sales occur whereas conserving each sellers and consumers completely satisfied.
Solely Watch 2021
Between the 2 days at Phillips, I joined 850 different fanatics at Palexpo on Saturday for the newest version of Solely Watch. In distinction to the few prior editions at which Patek Philippe dominated the proceedings, this public sale had a number of stars, together with in fact the Patek Philippe desk clock that hammered at CHF 9,500,000, but in addition F.P, Journe’s Francis Ford Coppola watch, the De Bethune/Voutilainen collaboration, and lot 1, the primary instance of Rexhep Rexhepi’s CC02, which went for a cool CHF 800,000 (and might need achieved higher had it adopted among the different heaps).
It was a really stable day for nearly everybody: solely 4 a lot of 53 failed to satisfy or exceed their excessive estimates, and just one bought under its estimate vary. And independents from MB&F to Konstantin Chaykin noticed their items promote at multiples of the excessive estimate.
4 notable moments come to thoughts: first, when a buddy seated with us appeared to have the profitable bid on the De Bethune/Voutilainen piece in hand at CHF 900,000 (the numbers!) because the hammer hovered and hovered, a famous collector within the entrance row stood up, walked over to the underbidder and whispered one thing, and a bid of CHF 1,000,000 was made on the best way to a closing value of CHF 1,300,000.
Our buddy took it in comparatively good graces because it raised more cash for the charity, however at a standard public sale with a stern huissier policing the proceedings I believe issues might need ended in a different way.
The second (truly a pair): seeing Thierry Stern’s two sons every get in a bid on so much. Neither prevailed, but it surely was good enjoyable.
Third: seeing our Elizabeth Doerr’s unrestrained pleasure at assembly a musical icon, jazz fusion legend John McLaughlin, and having the chance to seize them having a short chat.
The ultimate second: simply after Luc Pettavino introduced the ultimate public sale whole of CHF 29,740,000, a beneficiant particular person shouted that he would around the quantity as much as 30 million for good measure!
Winding down and wrapping up
There have been many different meals and some late-night chats over cocktails with buddies blended in there, however lastly we discovered ourselves on Monday with the Christie’s public sale as the primary occasion after a fast morning jaunt out to Agenhor to go to with Laurent and Nico Wiederrecht. As ought to come as no shock by now, I used to be unsuccessful in my bidding for the Patek Philippe Reference 533, which went for a few bids above my excessive quantity. I suppose it was a reduction to no less than get my hand within the air just a few occasions!
The spotlight for me of the Christie’s session was watching the bidding for a sequence of essential pocket watches, together with an early Breguet four-minute tourbillon that bought for CHF 1,230,000. The prized items went to the identical bidder, a tiny older lady with a fair smaller voice. The underbidder? None apart from François-Paul Journe, sitting throughout the aisle. Generally it truly is essential – and enjoyable – to be within the room the place it occurs.
At a closing dinner hosted by a neighborhood collector buddy, we have been re-introduced to watchmaker Hervé Schlüchter, previously related to the Alchemists Cu29 watch and now the founder of recent model Hyade-S. Schlüchter took us by way of a short presentation on his newest work, together with a primary version of ten watches that’s (you guessed it) already bought out. A becoming finish to the week!
Mates, watchmakers, and (no less than for the current time) low expectations of bidding success: that’s how I survived the Geneva watch public sale week.