On the 5th of December 2018, Phillips will hold its second auction in New York. But just so the auction house isn’t simply adding yet another date to the fall sale calendar, this time around it has brought on Mr Porter and our sister magazine, The Rake as partners in a curation effort unlike any other.
Titled “STYLED. Timeless Watches & How to Wear Them”, the themed auction brings into consideration 12 moments in a gentleman’s life as categories. Therein, the answer for how to dress for these moments is provided by Mr Porter and The Rake, whereas the timepieces appropriate for these are suggested by Phillips, from the 120 watches that make up the December 2018, New York auction catalog.
Just to make a quick run through, the moments that outline the catalog are: Wimbledon, Goodwood, Safari, Positano, Business, Eveningwear, Hamptons, Watch Enthusiasts’ Gathering, Après-Ski, Wedding, Caribbean and Art Basel. The watches, though, are not confined to a specific time frame, with vintage and contemporary pieces galore from Rolex, Patek, Omega, Richard Mille and many more, in between.
The announcement of the three-way collaboration was made late in October, in London, where Aurel Bacs of Phillips Watches, Toby Bateman, Managing Director of Mr Porter and Wei Koh, founding editor of Revolution and The Rake joined film director Paul Feig for an evening of discussion, centered around watch collecting and menswear. Read more about the event, here.
Since then, Phillips has sat down with Mr Bateman to learn more about his love for vintage watches and how 25 years in the menswear business has shaped his inclinations towards watch collecting. Read that conversation, here. In the meantime, The Rake has published all 12 looks gathered from its end for the sale, here. Incidentally, all the items listed for each look is available to buy on therake.com.
Two things remain then. One, Phillips’ conversation with Wei on the relationship between a gentleman’s personal style and his choice of a timepiece; this you will have to wait a few more days to a read. Two, and maybe most importantly, the 120 lots that make up Phillips’ December 2018, New York auction catalog. Which are now live, in its entirety, on phillips.com.
Quick Picks from the Lots
There are at least 13 Rolex Daytonas in the catalog ranging from the late ’60s all the way to as recent as 2012. But turning through the pages of the book, the instance you have to stop and read further into is Lot 13: a 1967 Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona ref. 6239 that was awarded to the winner of the Daytona 500, in 1969.
The gentleman racer in question here was LeeRoy Yarbrough, who at the height of his short-lived racing career won the Daytona 500, the World 600, and the Southern 500, all in the same year of 1969, earning him the “Triple Crown” title. Only two other racers have ever attained this title; they were Bill Elliot and Jeff Gordon.
Unfortunately for Yarbrough, 1970 was a year of a series of crashes that brought his racing career to a screeching halt. Falling on hard times, he went on to pawn his watch, where the owner of the pawnshop immediately recognized Yarbrough and suggested that he had the perfect buyer for the watch. Today the consignor of the watch is the son of that same buyer, who himself was a car guy. The story of the watch is further buoyed by a statement from Rolex USA confirming the delivery of the watch in question, to the Daytona International Speedway, in 1969. The provenance factor doesn’t get any sweeter than this.
Lot 13 sale estimate: US$150,000 – 300,000
This list is shorter. There’s a 1958 CK2915-2, a 1960 CK2998-2, a 1967 105.003-65, or “Ed White”, and lastly, a 1968 ST145.012-67 SP. And it’s really the last on the list that we’d like to draw your attention to, Lot 75, the Ultraman.
The story goes that in 1971, the creators of the Japanese superhero series, Ultraman released a second run, aptly titled, The Return of Ultraman. On episode 8 of the 51 produced, there was a close-up of a peculiar Speedmaster on the wrist of a character in the show, with a very prominent orange central chrono hand.
Once the watch community had identified the watch and attached the moniker we know it by, there were speculations raised that this watch was nothing more than a franken Speedmaster. Finally, it was Omega who then stepped into the picture and verified that the watch was, in fact, delivered from the factory with the orange hand in question and that the orange hand was of a specific dimension (18.8mm x 0.15mm x 0.90mm), unlike any other orange hand that Omega was using.
It’s also been verified that the Ultraman was produced for a very brief period of time, just the month of June in 1968 to be exact, which then means that very few were ever made. Speculations suggest that no more than 50 exist today and, therein, finding an example in decent condition is a further challenge.
Lot 75, therefore, presents a great opportunity for any Speedy addict with the Ultraman itch.
Lot 75 sale estimate: US$20,000 – 30,000
Two varieties of early Fifty-Fathoms are listed in the catalog that are both worth speaking about. First, Lot 36: a circa 1953 piece that is in remarkable condition (from the pictures, at least). Phillips’ research on the piece suggest that this is one of the earliest iterations of the watch given that it has the two-line gilt printing of the words, “ROTOMATIC INCABLOC”. Later versions of the watch bear these two words in one line and printed in white.
The second is Lot 70. This is, however, no regular Fifty-Fathoms. This is the Tornek-Rayville ref. TR-900, made for the US Navy by Blancpain’s American subsidy, Tornek-Rayville. As a result of the 1933 “Buy American Act”, the Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec, which had been earlier tested and approved for use by the Navy Experimental Diving Unit, in 1958 had to be made on American soil. Hence why, even though the watch looks every bit like the Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec, the name on the dial is as such. It’s said that only about 1,000 of these were made and then destroyed by the US government once the watch was decommissioned. 30-50 pieces, however, survived. No doubt, a trophy piece for any military watch collector.
Lot 36 sale estimate: US$20,000 – 40,000
Lot 70 sale estimate: US$50,000 – 100,000
There are at least 39 Patek Philippe watches within the catalog that range from vintage to modern with rarities of all sorts. However, what is soon to become a present-day rarity unlike any thus far in the world of Patek collecting, is the instances of “double sealed” pieces.
In mid-2017, the watchmaker sent out a note to all of its points of sale that all watches must be delivered to customers without the enclosing brown cardboard and the plastic bag. In the note, Patek goes so far as to say that once the watch is taken out, both the box and plastic must be destroyed.
Needless to say, collectors had taken to the unsealing of their new Patek as an absolute must in the buying experience. With that practice now being put to a stop, the instances of sealed Pateks that still exist in public are garnering attention and, no doubt, higher premiums.
Phillips’ December 2018 New York catalog has six sealed examples, these are: Lot 39, a double sealed 5970 in pink gold, Lot 44, a plastic sealed 5131 in white gold, Lot 58, a double sealed 5078 in platinum, Lot 65, a white gold 5070, Lot 104, a doubled sealed white gold 5970 and, lastly, Lot 117 a plastic sealed ref. 5020.
Lot 39 sale estimate: US$80,000 – 120,000
Lot 44 sale estimate: US$80,000 – 160,000
Lot 58 sale estimate: US$250,000 – 500,000
Lot 65 sale estimate: US$50,000 – 80,000
Lot 104 sale estimate: US$80,000 – 120,000
Lot 117 sale estimate: US$120,000 – 180,000
View the complete catalog now on phillips.com