The sale room at Geneva watch auctioneer Antiquorum was empty last Saturday, March 21, barring auctioneer Julien Schaerer at a podium, a small gaggle of phone handlers with their collectors down the lines and a live broadcasting system showing online bids for the 295 watches on sale.
In an era of Coronavirus lock downs, this has proved to be the most resilient way of selling watches because the items are rare, highly desirable and may not be found outside of auctions.
Romain Réa, CEO and watch expert for Antiquorum, says the remote auction was an important way to help keep people’s watch collecting and trading passions alive at a time when almost everybody in Switzerland has been asked to stay at home.
“In such an unprecedented situation it was challenging but important to accommodate with the context and to respect the fundamental stay at home priority” says Mr Réa.
This was a broad auction of vintage and contemporary watches ranging from Vacheron Constantin pocket watches through to modern day best sellers from Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet.
Prices were remarkably firm throughout the sale, suggesting that demand for premier timepieces from enthusiasts and collectors will be deferred by not crushed by the current Covid-19 outbreak.
A golden Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Jumbo ref.15002 even set a new world record price of CHF80,000, according to the auctioneer.
Overall, the auction generated sales of more than CHF 3 million, an average of more than CHF 10,000 per piece.
Standout sales at the Antiquorum Vintage & Contemporary Watches Auction included:
ROLEX, REF. 6241, DAYTONA “PAUL NEWMAN”, STEEL. Very fine and very rare stainless steel, manual winding chronograph wristwatch, black epoxy bezel with tachometer scale, black dial with 3 silver registers. Sold for CHF 181,250.
PATEK PHILIPPE, REF. 5131/1, WORLD TIME, CLOISONNÉ ENAMEL DIAL, PROBABLY UNIQUE PIECE, YELLOW GOLD. Very fine and probably unique 18k yellow gold, world time, self- winding wristwatch with indication of 24 times zones, silver color and polychrome cloisonné enamel dial displaying the European, African and American continent. Sold for CHF 150,000.
AUDEMARS PIGUET, REF. 15002, ROYAL OAK JUMBO, YELLOW GOLD. Very rare 18k yellow gold, tonneau shaped, self-winding wristwatch with date at 3. Sold for CHF 80,000.
PATEK PHILIPPE, HISTORICAL POCKET WATCH, WITH SIX HOROLOGICAL COMPLICATIONS, INCLUDING FIVE MINUTE-REPEATER AND PERPETUAL CALENDAR WITH MOON PHASES, PINK GOLD. Sold for CHF 57,000.