As the sun breaks through the icy crust of winter and the landscapes change in preparation for summer, spring is only truly here once the auctioneers’ gavels begin their Boomerang-esque dance over Geneva auction weekend. The catalogues have landed and its time to take a look at what the auction houses are offering. Today we leaf through the Phillips catalogue for GWA: Nine. There is a terrific spread of watches, with watches in every budget for all levels of collector. My colleagues here at Revolution are writing specific pieces about the George Daniels Grand Complication and the important Vacheron Constantin “Don Poncho” and so, whilst I acknowledge their utter significance in this sale, I won’t be specifically focusing on them. There are plenty of other interesting lots though, so let’s take a closer look at a cross section of different pieces for all budgets.
Lot 10: Rolex Ref 5100 “Beta 21”
The Rolex reference 5100 is the product of an important collaboration between some of the watch industry’s biggest hitters. Brands including Rolex, Patek and Omega worked together at the Centre Electronique Horologer (CEH) during the 1960s to produce the Swiss response to the emerging quartz-movement movement. The resulting calibre was the Beta 21 and Rolex designed a unique case with integrated bracelet that was essentially a forerunner to the iconic Oysterquartz watches. Rolex manufactured 1000 reference 5100, the vast majority in yellow gold with only a few made in white gold. Not only was the case unique, but it was also the first production Rolex to feature a sapphire crystal and quick-set date function. Lot 10 is a great opportunity for the buyer to acquire not just a rare Rolex, but a watch that is unusual and different to the usual Oyster-cased models.
Lot 23: Rolex Daytona Ref 16528 “Gifted by Senna”
The Rolex Daytona is steeped in the heritage of motor racing, especially motorcar racing and Lot 23 is the perfect illustration of just how intrinsically the two are linked. The watch itself is a very early and desirable R-series yellow gold Daytona dating to approximately 1989; just one year after the Perpetual Daytona was initially unveiled. The dial features the so-called ‘floating COSMOGRAPH’ text (where the word Cosmogrpah appears to have ‘floated’ away from the other four lines of text) and an early ‘200’ bezel, where the ‘UNITS PER HOUR’ text appears at the three o’clock position on the bezel unlike later versions where it appears at one o’clock.
This watch is set apart, however, from other examples due to the fact that the watch was a gift from racing legend Ayrton Senna to his mentor and the man who discovered him aged 18, Mr Angelo Parrilla. The watch is accompanied with a good assortment of supporting documents and paraphernalia including a Senna-signed helmet faceguard and photograph, letter of authenticity from Parilla, original box and other paperwork. We’ll be sure to keep our eye on the chequered flag to see how this watch finishes!
Lot 94: Universal Geneve Compax “Exotic Nina”
Another chrono with a motor racing pedigree is Lot 94, a funky 70s Universal Geneve compax named after the famous model Nina Rindt. Nina Rindt was married to well known racing driver Jochen Rindt – in fact Jochen Rindt had a Heuer Autavia named after him too. Nina Rindt was seen wearing these exotic dial UGs and so the nickname has stuck. The blue dial and bezel, with popping orange accents and stop watch hand give this watch an exotic and very much of-the-era look. In the same manner as the colourful chronographs form Tudor, these UG watches have become highly prized by collectors.
Lot 167: Patek Philippe Ref 1436 “Pink Split”
It is understood that there are less than ten known examples of the Patek reference 1436 in pink gold. The 1436 is a split second or rattrapante chronograph that harks back to an era when it was still a sign of horological excellence (following on from gargantuan pocket watches) to house a significant complication in such a diminutive case size; the 1436 is 33mm across. This watch would be special enough without the fact that the dial is pink too. And the cherry on the cake? The accompanying archive extract includes the seldom seen information that the watch was originally sold with this dial when new in 1940. The pink gold case is in fantastic condition with still crisp hallmarks present on the lugs. This watch really is pretty in pink!
Lot 207: Longines Ref 5065 “Oversize Steel Calatrava”
Unlike the previous watch (PP ref 1436), Lot 207 was very much at odds with the average size of a wristwatch in the 1940s. In an era where small was beautiful, there was a micro trend for brands to make very large watches, often in stainless steel. The Longines reference 5065 is one such example and was important enough to be featured in John Goldberger’s tome Longines Watches. It’s a large watch for the era at 38mm with a great dial where the even numbers are Roman numerals and the odd hours small dots. The dial has a nice patina which softens this timeless timepiece.
Lot 220: Rolex Submariner ref 6200 “King of The Big Crowns”
The Submariner is catching up with its sibling, the Daytona and we are beginning to see serious results for a watch that for a long time remained something of a cult collectible amongst hardcore vintage Rolex lovers. The reference 6200 is where the Sub saga began in 1954 with its oversize winding crown and what is now known as the Explorer dial with arabic numerals at 3, 6 and 9. Lot 220 is from the family of the original family and it will be interesting to see how the market reacts to this watch. Sure, it has service bezel on it but otherwise the watch is all original. One of my favourite aspects of these watches is when the radium in the hands goes translucent as on this example. It’s a Big Crown that I am sure will bring a big result.
Lot 49: Rolex Daytona Ref 6265 “Big Red Telephone”
I want to finish on this watch. Lot 49 will test the Daytona market in a couple of possible ways. The offered Daytona is a well-loved and honest 6265 offered on the trademark box-stitched Phillips suede strap. The watch is unusual in that during some point in is life it has had arabic numerals added to the dial. These old-fashioned style numerals are most likely a third party ‘customisation’ of the dial and here lies the issue in my mind – will it kill the interest in the watch or make it more interesting to bidders? The watch will forever have the provenance of being included in a Phillips sale but modified Rolex dials always raise eyebrows. Let’s see who picks up the phone for this one.