Spring in Geneva means many things, and not just walks around the Lake. It is, of course, the auction season. Alongside the Big Three (Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips), other auction houses will organise their sales in the capital of watchmaking. This year, Swiss Maison Ineichen Auctioneers will hold its first auction in Geneva on May 9, 10 and 11, 2023. And for its first participation in the Geneva auction weekend, the Zurich-based house presents a rather impressive selection of watches entirely dedicated to independent and small creative brands composed predominantly of unique pieces and extremely rare watches.
In this article, we’ve selected six watches that we believe are the best of the sale, but of course, there are many more watches to discover. A tourbillon T30 by FP Journe? Yes, there’s one. A Czapek Antacrtique Rattrapante, a De Bethune DB1 (the first watch of the brand) or a watch by Thierry Ducret? Ineichen will have that too. There are even a few oddities, such as a Cabestan or a Manufacture Royale. You can consult the full list of watches available here. Note that the auction will start with a preview and the possibility of a fixed-price purchase on May 9-10 at the President Wilson Hotel in Geneva. The live auction will be held on May 11th, from 14:00 Europe Time.
A Unique Gerald Genta Tourbillon Sonnerie
LVMH’s recent announcement that Gérald Genta will soon be back as a stand-alone brand is big news and will make past models even more desirable. And when looking at what is probably the star lot of Ineichen’s Geneva sale, it is understandable. The watch in question is a unique, impressive and extremely complicated yellow gold grande and petite sonnerie minute repeating wristwatch with Westminster chimes and tourbillon from Gérald Genta. That alone is enough to create enthusiasm.
The watch in question is based on the technical masterpiece created in 1994 by Pierre-Michel Golay, a movement that was made in very small quantities over the years. This calibre 31001 – hand-wound, chiming and repeating on four hammers on four gongs, playing a Westminster chime with a different tune for each quarter – has a reversed hand-fitting scheme so that the chiming and repeating mechanism, which is usually situated under the dial, is fitted on the reverse side of the watch, while the time indication, tourbillon, striking hammers and gongs are on the dial side of the watch. It is fitted inside the round Arena case, with a movement decorated with fleurisanne engraving. This Gérald Genta Grande Sonnerie Carillon Westminster Tourbillon Reference GS1.X.20.893.CN.BA Piece Unique is offered at a starting bid of CHF 170,000, and a fixed price of CHF 400,000. More details here.
A Unique Titanium Voutilainen 28TI
Also a unique watch and also made by one of the most acclaimed independent watchmakers around, this Voutilainen 28TI is built around the in-house base calibre Vingt-8 (with the Peseux 260 as an inspiration) with a complex direct impulse escapement. This model is meticulously finished (of course) but features a reversed layout, meaning that the balance and escapement are displayed dial side. And while this watch was available in three limited editions in titanium, platinum or tantalum, each of 8 or 10 pieces, a few unique pieces were also made, just like this one. It comes in a titanium case with dark grey bridges and rose gold accents.
This unique Titanium Voutilainen 28TI is offered at a starting bid of CHF 130,000 and a fixed price of CHF 350,000. More details here.
Vianney Halter Classic Salmon/Gold Dial
While far from being the most complex watch in the Geneva sale, this timepiece by Vianney Halter remains one of the watchmaker’s all-time greats. A watch we already covered in the Collector’s Series, it combines the signature steampunk case – in white gold with rose gold rivets on the bezel and a unique lug design – with a dial made of rose gold, giving it an extremely desirable white metal/salmon dial look. The back, with a sapphire crystal, reveals the automatic calibre VH100, with its mysterious mass patented rotor (base Nouvelle Lémania). The overall retro-futuristic look is directly modelled after the Antiqua perpetual calendar watch but in a slightly less provocative way. The overall production of the Vianney Halter Classic is said to be around 250 pieces (according to various sources), with only a fraction flaunting the desirable salmon-toned dial.
This example of the Vianney Halter Classic is offered with a starting bid of CHF 35,000 and a fixed price of CHF 85,000. More details here.
Daniel Roth Monopusher Chronograph C137
Like Genta, Daniel Roth has also been relaunched by LVMH, with the presentation of a souscription tourbillon that pays tribute to the master’s classic watches. Among the few watches produced by Daniel Roth when he was still at the head of his eponymous company, chronographs hold a special place in the heart of collectors. Next to the classic two-pusher Chronograph C147 was another even more desirable watch, the Monopusher Chronograph C137. Only 52 pieces (36 in gold, 16 in platinum) were made, and Ineichen here offers number 7. Powered by the calibre Nouvelle Lémania 2220 (also known as 15CHT), originally designed in the 1930s, it retains all the classic design elements that made early Roth watches so attractive: double ellipse-shaped 18k yellow gold case, guilloché dial with a Clous de Paris pattern, a brushed chapter ring and counter outlines and blued steel hands.
This yellow gold example of the Daniel Roth Monopusher Chronograph C137 (number 7) is offered at a starting bid of CHF 45,000 and a fixed price of CHF 100,000. More details here.
Roger Dubuis Sympathie Chronograph
Forget about modern, provocative Roger Dubuis watches. The real deal was during the 1990s when Roger Dubuis created his brand with a series of elegant, original watches. With his past experience at Patek Philippe, chronographs were important in the early days, and the Sympathie Chronograph is one of the best examples. This limited-edition chronograph wristwatch is presented in a rare rose gold case with the signature Art Deco ‘round-square’ shape. The light crème-coloured dial features applied Breguet numerals, and it is powered by the hand-wound calibre RD56, with the Poinçon de Genève quality mark, and with Bulletin d’Observatoire Besancon Observatory chronometer certificate. This model was produced in only 28 pieces.
This rose gold example of the Roger Dubuis Sympathie Chronograph (Ref. S37 56 5) is offered at a starting bid of CHF 35,000 and at a fixed price of CHF 80,000. More details here.
Cyril Brivet-Naudot Eccentricity Prototype
If you’re a returning reader of MONOCHROME, the name Brivet-Naudot should be familiar to you. And for its Geneva auction in May, Ineichen will offer a pleasant surprise, a prototype of the first watch made by the young independent watchmaker. The Eccentricity watch was conceived following his years at the famous Lycée Edgar Faure in Morteau and is made almost entirely by hand or with traditional machines. Notably, it features an unusual escapement, an adaptation of the free eccentric escapement developed by Louis Richard in the 18th century – itself based on the principles of the detent escapement. The watch for auction is a prototype in steel with a sandblasted brass movement and dial.
This prototype example of the Cyril Brivet-Naudot Eccentricity watch is offered with a starting bid of CHF 70,000 or a fixed price of CHF 200,000. More details here.
You can also consult the entire catalogue of the Geneva Independents 2023 Ineichen sale here.