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Phillips’ championing of independent watchmakers pays off

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Getting the winter sales season off to a start, Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo achieved a 100 per cent sell through of lots, netting CHF 45 million at the 5-6 November Geneva Watch Auction: XVI. This completes a white glove year for Phillips Geneva with watch sales totalling nearly CHF 112 million.

Last weekend’s auction saw bidders from 75 countries taking part by phone, online or in person at La Réserve Hotel, competing for the 226 watches on sale. The two days proved to be particularly successful for independent brands – an area long-championed by Phillips and, in particular, head of watches for Continental Europe and the Middle East, Alex Ghotbi.

Without doubt, the star lot was the unique George Daniels Spring Case Tourbillon that had a ludicrously low pre-sale estimate of ‘in excess of CHF 1 million’, and ended up selling for CHF 4,083,500. This sets a new world record for any watch sold at auction by a British watchmaker and represents the second highest price achieved by any independent watchmaker.

Lot 27 george daniels
George Daniels Spring Case Tourbillon.

The other two Daniels watches – a Millennium and an Anniversary made in collaboration with his one and only apprentice Roger Smith, sold for CHF 828,600 (a world record for the reference) and CHF 693,000 respectively, against low estimates of CHF 250,000 and CHF 300,000.

Another world record was smashed when a unique A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph “Hampton Court Edition” sold for CHF 1,058,500, with proceeds going to The Prince’s Trust. This was not just a record for the reference, but for any Lange sold at auction.

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Lot 209 a. Lange sohne
Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph “Hampton Court Edition”.

And the record-breaking continued with a white-gold Philippe Dufour Simplicity with a case and dial arrangement not seen on the open market before. The piece sold for CHF 1,022,200.

Lot 232 philippe dufour
Philippe Dufour Simplicity.

Beyond the independents, the usual suspects also flourished with Patek Philippe coming in mid-estimate with a ref. 1518 QP chronograph that hammered at CHF 1,240,000 (a huge increase on a similar piece that sold at Bonhams in 2019 for £331,312/approx. CHF 376,000) and almost tripling the low estimate for another perpetual calendar chrono, this time a unique ref. 2499 that sold for CHF 1,179,500. And a white-gold, salmon-dial chronograph ref. 5070G broke another world record when it sold for CHF 852,800.

Lot 153 patek philippe
Patek Philippe ref. 1518 perpetual calendar chronograph.

Among the other big names, a ref. 6264 yellow-gold Rolex ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona with lemon dial and tropical brown sub-dials proved a relative bargain, selling for CHF 816,500 against a high estimate of CHF 1.1 million. This shows a pretty steady price with a small dip since pre-covid times, an example in Phillips New York 10 December 2019 having fetched $884,000 (approx. CHF 875,000).

Lot 161 rolex
Rolex ref. 6264 yellow-gold ‘Lemon Paul Newman’ Daytona.

With most of the top lots and headliners coming from independent watchmakers instead of the big three, it seems that the auction market really is opening up with good ROI to be made on the lesser-spotted timepieces as well as the most popular. Good news for collectors and good news for the market in general.

 

 

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