With the announcement of Phillips Watches’ themed sale: Daytona Ultimatum set for May 12, 2018 in Geneva, that brief press release just didn’t cut it for Revolution.
So we reached out to the folks at the auction house with some quick questions. And while all is not yet ready to be revealed, Paul Boutros (Head of Watches, Americas and International Strategy Advisor) and Arthur Touchot (Specialist and Head of Digital Strategy, Watches) still took some time to give us some tasty tidbits.
Before we get to the matter at hand, could you tell me about what the auction room looked like to you from where you stood, when Aurel brought down the hammer in New York and made watch auction history.
It was quite an unbelievable sight. We’d never seen anything quite like it before in a watch auction. I have to say, it was the most exciting moment of all my years participating in the watch world.
The saleroom at the Phillips NY Gallery was at full capacity — standing room only on the main floor, with an overflow room downstairs with its own supporting auctioneer.
It was the most well-attended watch auction in history, with nearly 700 people in attendance, including some of the world’s most influential and prominent dealers, collectors, and journalists.
I was in the phone banks to Aurel’s right, representing an anonymous bidder who was registered to bid on lot 8, Paul Newman’s ‘Paul Newman’.
Leading up to the lot, the room was restless, their eager anticipation palpable. Camera crews from major television networks, including CNN, CBS, and CNBC, were set up directly across from us.
Once the lot’s introduction video began, everyone in the audience sat up and went nearly silent — and mobile phones were raised by so many, ready to film the sale of this historic watch.
A bidding war almost as legendary as the watch ensued, with an immediate, opening bid of $10 million from a telephone bidder shocking the room, and stunning many of us!
In the end, a total of three bidders would battle over the course of 12 minutes to be the winner — and history was made with a result that impressed all of us.
The energy in the room was electric — so much excitement and buzz. Immediately afterwards, we had clients coming up to us to shake our hands — they themselves delighted with the results.
There now exists a Daytona in the world that someone — an individual, in fact — has paid $17,752,500 for. In your own words, what does this say to you about the present-day auction market? Exceptional watches are going to get exceptional reactions from the collecting community. Of course, the results of the rest of the watches in the sale confirmed the health of the vintage watch market.
But this watch doesn’t speak to that. Paul Newman’s ‘Paul Newman’ was the most important Rolex that had never been auctioned. For such a landmark watch that has been so important to the world of collectible wristwatches, its world record result is not surprising.
Even though the new record smashes the previous one, we still firmly believe prices are rational when you compare them to the prices paid for vintage cars, for example.
The last time we spoke, I asked you: “How will the performance of Paul Newman’s ‘Paul Newman’ affect the price of subsequent instances of the Paul Newman Daytona turning up at auctions?”
To which you responded: “While we don’t have a crystal ball, the publicity generated with the sale of Paul Newman’s ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona could very well help expand the market for collectible vintage watches in general, and also increase demand for Paul Newman Daytona watches in particular.”
Would you say that we are seeing the impact of this just yet? Or will it be a while more before we can tell?
The demand for Paul Newman Daytonas and for all Daytonas — vintage and modern — has definitely increased, and with that, their prices. The price achieved by Paul Newman’s Paul Newman Daytona meant that so many people outside of the watch community now discovered what a Daytona was and how valuable an early example could be.
Friends that have absolutely no interest in watches sent us stories in the press minutes after the auction ended. Our inboxes were going crazy. We felt like a sports team that just won the final game in a world championship!
So, even before the dust has been able to settle, Phillips Watches has announced the 12 May 2018 thematic sale: Daytona Ultimatum. Would you say that this is the perfect example of Phillips “striking while the iron is hot”?
Daytona Ultimatum is not an auction that was put together as a result of the November sales. It’s something we’ve been working on for quite some time now, just like the sale of Paul Newman’s Paul Newman.
The Daytona Ultimatum sale will be, no doubt, tightly curated. Can you give us an indication for the selection process for a Daytona to make the cut for the catalogue?
To be included in the sale, a Daytona would have to be in mint condition and be the most complete version of the reference that we know of, in most cases that means it will come with box, tags, and papers.
Ultimately, we’re not the ones making the final selection though. The sale will be curated by one of the most prominent Daytona experts, someone well-known to the watch collecting community.
This isn’t our first curated sale. You may remember the Stop-Start-Reset sale in 2016, curated by author and scholar John Goldberger. It’s a wonderful experience to work with another expert on a sale.
We hear that someone very special in the vintage Rolex world has been instrumental in putting together this sale. In what ways were his/her expertise tapped upon?
These will be the very best examples of Rolex’s famed chronograph. What we’re saying to collectors by setting this ultimatum is that such a collection of watches will probably never be offered again. Of course, we look forward to sharing more as soon as we can.
If you could give us one tiny bit of information about the sale that isn’t already mentioned in the press release — and of course without get us both in hot water — what would that be?
Not at the moment, regrettably. Please stay tuned!