On May 10 in Geneva, Phillips will offer a select number of high-quality watches in a range of prices that suits almost everyone. We preview affordable pieces for new collectors, some exotic heavy metal, and one non-watch lot that will surprise and delight you.
Most auction previews focus on the ultra-rare, high-dollar offerings, because, let’s face it, we like to read about them. But the truth is that most of us will not be bidding on the million-dollar lots. So before we get to the exotic offerings, here are five collector favorites at affordable prices.
Lot 111 – Rolex Ref. 1680 Submariner
The “Red Sub” may be the watch that launched a thousand (or more) collectors on their journey. The problem is that they have become so popular that counterfeits abound. So, if you’re going to purchase one, it’s best to buy from the most reliable source you can find, and this sale fits that bill. Step right up and bid with confidence. The presale estimate is CHF8,000-12,000.
Lot 217 – Omega Speedmaster Ref. 2998
Early Speedmasters are highly sought after, and once again, provenance and originality are key. Too often during their lives, these watches went in for service, only to have incorrect dials, bezels, hands and/or bracelets fitted because the repair shop did not have the correct parts on hand. Phillips says this watch is right. The presale estimate is CHF7,000-12,000.
Lot 196 – IWC Ingenieur
The Ingenieur has achieved cult status among IWC aficionados. It was developed by Albert Pellaton, IWC’s technical director responsible for the firm’s first automatic movement. This series 866 example was manufactured in 1971 and it is powered by the firm’s in-house caliber 8541B. The presale estimate is CHF6,000-9,000.
Lot 195 – Heuer Monaco Ref. 1133
Few timepieces are as closely linked to a celebrity, and a film, as the Heuer Monaco. Steve McQueen famously wore this reference in the 1971 film Le Mans, forever establishing it as the racing chronograph in the minds of many. Today, collectors often refer to the 1133 as simply “the McQueen Monaco”. And let’s not forget that it was designed by Jack Heuer, it was named for the world’s most famous Formula One race, and that it is considered a design icon. Enough said. The presale estimate is CHF6,000-8,000.
Lot 68 – Panerai Mare Nostrom “Slytech”
This pre-Vendome Mare Nostrom dates to 1996. As Phillips relates the story, Panerai commissioned a special series of Mare Nostrom chronographs for Sylvester Stallone. Originally intended to be made in a limited edition of 500 watches, the informed consensus today is that only 50 watches with reference 5218-304 were finished, making this 42mm example both very rare and highly desirable. We’re willing to bet that the presale estimate of CHF12,000 to 18,000 is on the low side.
Let’s shift gears and look at some of the heavy hitters…
Lot 123 – Patek Philippe Ref. 130
When I saw this watch, all I could say was “Wow”. It has the complete package. Early Patek single-button chronographs are among the most highly sought after pieces, and this one is steel, making it exceedingly rare. How rare? Phillips says it is the only known steel single–button chronograph by Patek Philippe in private hands. Its sister is housed in the Patek Philippe museum. Beyond the rarity, this piece has tremendous visual appeal. The presale estimate is CHF 1 million to 2 million.
Lot 165 – Patek Philippe Ref. 1518
The Reference 1518 was launched in 1941 as Patek’s first perpetual calendar chronograph (and the world’s first in series production). This example was produced in 1945, and the case measures 35mm in diameter. Early examples in pink gold are especially rare, and Phillips say that the massive bracelet on this piece has never been seen on this reference before. The presale estimate is CHF 800,000 to 1,400,000.
Lot 214 – Rolex Ref. 6263 “Albino”
Rolex 6263s are rare and highly desirable pieces, but you probably did not know that there are four known examples that have all-silver dials. This example is not only a unicorn, but it belonged to Eric Clapton. That should be enough to tell you that that this watch is about as rare and desirable as it gets in the world of collectible Rolex. The presale estimate is CHF500,000 – 1,000,000.
Lot 79 – Rolex Ref. 6062 “General Sweeney”
When a watch has a collector nickname all its own, you know you’re looking at something significant. This is the “General Sweeney 6062”. With its black lacquer dial and spade numerals, it is among the rarest Rolex complicated calendar watches. Only four examples of this watch are known to exist. This one is in near-mint original condition, and it retains its original documents. Its nickname derives from the inscription on the case back showing that a group of commanders of the 15th Air Force offered this watch to war hero Major General Walter C. Sweeney on August 8, 1955. The presale estimate is CHF300,000 – 600,000.
Lot 118 – Rolex Ref. 6062
In the world of collector coins, imperfections resulting from mint errors are often treasured, as they impart their own special rarity. This extremely rare Rolex is all the more interesting because it has its own factory imperfection. According to Phillips, this reference 6062 was also stamped “6063” inside the case back, then that mistaken reference number was struck through by Rolex. The presale estimate is CHF250,000 – 450,000.
Lot 127 – F.P. Journe Pen Set
Finally, this sale includes one rare and desirable lot that does not tell time. It’s a pen set created by F.P. Journe in 2008. The set includes a fountain pen and a ballpoint pen in titanium and pink gold, and the set bears lucky number 007 of 500. These pens are hand-finished (of course) and signed by Journe on the top.
The fountain pen is particularly interesting. Instead of fitting a cap, Journe (being Journe) patented a unique system in which screwing the top of the pen reveals the nib through six flaps that open and close like flower petals. Phillips says this set is in like new condition. The presale estimate is CHF3,000-5,000.
Find more information about these and many other watches at the official Phillips auction page.