There’s no doubt about it; Phillips is clearly the growing auction house for watches (the arrival of Aurel Bacs – ex-Christie’s – at the head of the watch department is clearly paying off). In May, the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction One made a lot of noise, with 4 watches breaking the 1-million barrier and a 5-million Patek Philippe Chronograph in steel. Coming November the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction Two will be held, off which we already showed you several of the highlights. However, not all collectors can afford such lots and for this reason, we have a selection of 10 watches, at accessible prices but with great interest.
When it comes to auctions (whether watches or any kind of art), journalists tend to focus first on the top-lots, the grails, the potential record-breakers or the rarest ones. It’s fair in way, as we all need to dream and to catch interest of readers. When looking at the previous Geneva Watch Auction One by Phillips, people talked mainly about the one-of-two Patek Philippe Ref. 130 Sector Dial in stainless steel – the one that reached over 5 million dollars. Of course, the Rolex Daytona Albino ex-Clapton was also widely covered, as well as a few other expensive lots. However, for the rest (approximately 160 lots): radio silence.
Now, we have the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction Two coming in November, and after a close look at the catalogue (full list of the lots here and catalogue to download here), we can already expect at least 7 to 10 watches breaking the 1 million dollar barrier (including the Patek 1463 Split Second in steel, the Rolex “Solo Rolex Quicksilver”, the “Hermes Paul Newman” Rolex Daytona, the Patek 2499 First Series, a crazy enameled Rolex and chronographs from Patek and Rolex, all kind of incredible). But (and that’s a big BUT), collectors able to get their hands-on such lots are as rare as the watches in question. For this reason, we’ve been looking at the catalogue and selected 10 watches with a more accessible price but with great look, great aura, great historical importance or a little twist. We didn’t say affordable watches either, but let’s agree that these watches will keep their feet on earth (relatively speaking).
Lot 204 – Universal Genève Polerouter Sub designed by Gerald Genta
Admittedly, this is a great watch, with superb design (look at the dial and the case), from a great manufacture (that actually gains a lot in the heart of collectors) and designed by one of the masters of our century, Gerald Genta. Quite a good package, right. This Universal Genève Polerouter Sub is the diver edition of the collection designed by Genta in 1955 – you can easily recognize the lyre lugs that Omega still uses in the Seamaster (with early examples also designed by Genta). This example of a Universal Genève Polerouter Sub is in pristine condition and it comes with its original steel bracelet and 3 spare bezels (blue, red and black). The best: it’s one of the 3 cheapest lots, at CHF 3,000 – CHF 5,000. Listed here.
Lot 106 – Omega Speedmaster “SpeedyMoon” ST 345’0809
This is quite a special and rare Omega Speedmaster. It’s actually the first Moonphase edition, so-called by collectors the “SpeedyMoon” – and admit it, having a moon phase indicator on a watch called the “Moonwatch” is quite relevant. This Omega Speedmaster “SpeedyMoon” ST 345’0809 was made in 1985 and is part of the first limited edition, created at 1,300 pieces. It features the calibre 866, a date and moon-phases edition of the famous 861 movement. It a quite rare watch, in between vintage and modern – meaning that it’s the right time to buy it, as it gains some interest but still flies under the hardcore collectors’ radar. The example here is unpolished and retains its original strap and buckle – and look at the great patina on the hands and the indexes. Listed here and estimated CHF 5,000 – CHF 7,000.
Lot 137 – an 1945 Angelus Chronodato (triple date, two-tone dial)
This watch probably best defined the Angelus brand (together with the 8-day movements that could be found in early Panerai watches). The Chronodato is also kind of unique with its triple calendar, displayed in a vertical way (with the day at 6, the month at 12 and the date on the periphery of the dial). It’s a must have for vintage chronograph collectors. This example seems a bit aged on the dial but its case is sharp as possible – take a look at the lugs… The overall condition is great and seems fully original. Listed here and estimated at CHF 5,000 – CHF 7,000 (a watch made for Sebastien Chaulmontet, a.k.a Mister La Joux-Perret, who recently relaunched the Angelus name and who is also known as one of the greatest Angelus collectors).
Lot 173 – A Rolex Submariner 16610 with a twist
What’s so special about a Rolex Submariner 16610…? When looking at the case and the dial of the present example, nothing. It’s simply a Submariner, in a very good condition for sure. However, this one has something a bit unique, as its caseback is engraved with “Grand Prix de Monaco 1992”. This watch is one of a very limited batch of Submariners to have been made for this event. Research shows that these were delivered to Rolex’s French agent and must have been given as gifts to participant teams or the drivers themselves. It is the opportunity to own a rare edition of one of the most classical timepiece – and for a reasonable price, as estimated CHF 5,000 – CHF 10,000. Listed here.
Lot 202 – a Full-Set Universal Genève Tri-Compax triple calendar with moon-phases
This watch, that was at the time of its introduction the direct competitor of the Rolex Daytona, used to be quite forgotten – but it’s changing and collectors are giving more and more appreciation to these 1960s UG Tri-Compax watches (especially the “Nina Rindt” editions). What we have here is the triple calendar / moon-phases edition, with a cool reverse-panda / blue dial and the acrylic tachymeter bezel, making it a rare and sought-after edition. It will be delivered really full-set (box, hang tag explaining different functions, world service booklet, certificate of guarantee and Universal Extract from the Archives). Estimation is CHF 6,000 – CHF 9,000, which feels low considering the actual demand for Universal Genève watches and the actual condition of this example (expect around CHF 10,000 to CHF 13,000). Listed Here.
Lot 127 – A Full-Set vintage Stainless Steel Vacheron-Constatin ref. 6307
If you’re following watch auctions on a regular basis, you probably know the importance of a stainless steel case compared to a precious metal case – especially in the case of brands like Patek Philippe, Lange and Sohne or Vacheron Constantin, that usually create watches in gold or platinum, making stainless steel rarer than precious materials. However, it usually means watches sold at crazy prices. But, the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction Two has something for you, a nice simple 3-hand Vacheron Constatin ref. 6307, with steel case, 37mm diameter (not too small for a 1960 watch), an ivory dial with nice double batons markers and the calibre K 1070, an automatic movement that precesses the legendary calibre 1120. It is accompanied by the original box and original guarantee. Estimation CHF 7,000 – CHF 12,000. Listed here.
Lot 172 – a Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16550 with cream / rail dial
This ref. 16550 is the successor of the well-known Rolex Explorer II “Steve McQueen” Ref. 1655 (the “orange hand” or “Freccione”). It was launched in 1985 and produced only a few years (followed then by the 16570, with, on the white dial edition, black hands and indexes). Due to a flaw in the paint used for the dials, some Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16550 with originally white dials are often seen with tones that have aged to shades of ivory or cream. That’s what you have here, a nice and uniform light cream color that makes this watch special – so-called “cream” or “panna”. The dials of the Ref. 16550 were made using a glossy, lacquered finish, giving them a porcelain-like look. Finally, this example has a rail dial, where the spaces in the two lines of text at 6 are almost perfectly aligned (not the case on all the ref. 16550, but only on the first years of production – supposedly from 1984 to 1987).
Thus, we have here a collectible watch, with a quite unique look and with a superb overall condition. It will come with its original guarantee certificate, stamped from 1986. Estimation seems a bit low at CHF 10,000 – CHF 15,000 (expect at least CHF 15,000). Listed here.
Lot 226 – the first Heuer Autavia ref. 3646 with transitional case and tachymeter dial
Another rather “strange” but rare and collectible watch that could find its place in any vintage Heuer collection. What we have here is a “transitional” Heuer Autavia Ref 3646… we say transitional because its case is a mix between the early executions and the third execution, which was made for a short period of time and in a very small number of pieces – supposedly serial numbers 82848 to 83122, thus 274 pieces. The biggest difference between this case and the standard third execution case is the straight finish on the lugs, the standard cases having bevelled edges. Secondly, this watch features a special tachymetre dial. Most reference 3646 have plain dials, and research shows that only about 15 to 20 examples of the 3646 with this outer tachy scale are known to date. It is thought to be a special order dial.
The present example is even more special as it has the serial number 82848, making it the very first of the few “transitional” Heuer Autavia Ref 3646. This a rare, important and very sharp watch, explaining the CHF 10,000 – CHF 15,000 estimate (which could be broken easily). Listed here.
Lot 227 – A Full-Set Omega Speedmaster ST 105.003-65
Nothing really special or unique for this watch, except its rather important rarity and its overall condition (and a superb design). The Omega Speedmaster ST 105.003 was launched in 1963 to replace the CK2998, with new baton hands (that are still part of the actual Speedy) but that still uses the straight-lugs case (but the last reference with this case). Inside ticks the calibre 321, with column wheel. For more details, you can check our in-depth article about the early Speedmasters. The present example comes with its original box and papers (and the Extract from the Archives confirming the date of production on October 25, 1966). Estimation seems a bit high at CHF 10,000 – CHF 15,000. Listed here.
Lot 230 – an early Audemars Piguet Royal Oak A-Series 5402 ST Jumbo
Well, it becomes to be hard to call a watch like this “accessible”. However, when looking at the full catalogue, this Royal Oak A-Series is one of the “cheapest” lots – just to give you an idea of the quality of the selection… What could easily be a highlight in any other classical auction is here one of the cheap lots!
You might think that you’re looking at another Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. In fact, you’re not. You’re looking at a watch part of the first row of production of the A-Series. When launched in 1972, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 5402 ST Jumbo (designed by Gerald Genta) was manufactured in a first series of 1,000 watches, followed by another row of 1,000 watches. You’ll easily understand that there are only 2,000 Royal Oak 5402 ST A-Series ever produced, before AP moved to the B-Series – removing at the same time the 6 o’clock logo and moving it to at 12.
The example here is number 323 – meaning the 323rd made – and it comes with its original dial, hands and bracelet. It is accompanied by Audemars Piguet Certificate of Origin confirming original movement no. 127’607, furthermore confirming the original movement was later replaced in 1980 by Audemars Piguet with movement no. 212’227, This overall condition and pedigree create a really desirable watch for vintage collectors. Thus, the price of CHF 12,000 – CHF 18,000 seems really underestimated and the minimum we can expect is CHF 30,000 (and I will personally follow the auction and if the final price stays under CHF 15,000, I can promise you that i’ll be the buyer). Listed here.