Phillips – The Geneva Watch Auction One: Now, if you weren’t aware or have been somewhere totally in accessible to mankind, Phillips auction house have embarked on a new venture. One that I am sure will please many like-minded watch collectors and aficionados.
You may have heard of a world-renowned watch specialist, Aurel Bacs? Who during his tenure at Christie’s sold some of the world’s most expensive timepieces, from the rarest Patek’ to the rarest of rare Rolex, without doubt this man knows his watches but you can tell he also enjoys every bit of it too. Even during our brief encounter a few days ago, we were deep in discussion about some of the pieces he has sold, not to mention his involvement with the amassed Audemars Piquet collection by one Mr. Margulies. Did you know he was responsible for sourcing over 40% of this collection, which I have written about here and here?
Along with his wife and confidant Livia Russo – who is also a watch specialist – they have created Bacs & Russo (SA) whom have entered into an exclusive partnership with Phillips. The goal of Bacs & Russo is only to offer the best of the best in every sale, opting for quality over quantity. To assist Bacs & Russo in this new beginning is friend and watch guru/collector, Paul Boutros, who has taken on the role of International Strategy Advisor. Along with Nathalie Monbaron – Business Development Director, long-term friend and colleague of Bacs & Russo at Christie’s and Virginie Liatard-Roessli who manages the newly formed Phillips Watch Department, whom has spent many years in the watch industry.
Last week I was invited to Phillips Head Office, in London’s Berkeley Square, to have a look at some of the exquisite timepieces that will be auctioned during the 10th May sale in Geneva and pick out some of my absolute favourites among them.
1951 ROLEX OYSTER PERPETUAL CALENDAR REF. 6062
Lot 79: There are a few absolutely exquisite examples in the upcoming May 10th auction from Phillips and this is one of them. The revered Rolex ref. 6062 is quiet simply one of the rarest vintage Rolex collector timepieces but of course this also makes it one of the most valuable too. While the 6062, though made for a short period of time in the 1950s, featured models that came in various metals and dials, it is said that the most exclusive dials were those that were finished in black lacquer, set with diamond numerals. Though, just as rare are those, which feature a black dial and the so-called “spade numerals”. Until this day only four examples have surfaced and been seen in public.
This particular example is understood to be in pristine-unrestored condition and still retains its worn character with minimal polishing. The black dial still features the original luminous plots, which is a rarity within itself. It is accompanied with its original rating certificate, Rolex guarantee and instructions manual, which is again another rarity and seldom is a 6062 auctioned with all of these details intact. However, there is another hidden detail with this 6062. On the case back, is the inscription that shows that a group of commanders of the 15th Air Force offered this timepiece to Major General Walter C, Sweeney on August 8th 1955. While this Rolex 6062 can also boast of having more important historical provenance, I think it is unlikely to have any impact in the bidding process as the Rolex ref. 6062 is just so out-and-out rare to begin with.
Estimate: €284,000 – €568,000
1942 PATEK PHILIPPE CHRONOGRAPH REF. 1506
Lot 101: Another one of my picks and probably a more understated timepiece is this Patek Philippe ref. 1506. Many of you would’ve heard me go on about the 130, 530, 1463 and the 1579 but not very often do you come across the 1506. But this is no real surprise when you consider there are only 3 known examples in yellow-gold and 3 in rose-gold! Moreover, it has been 7 years since the last example of this reference surfaced and was auctioned, undoubtedly making this next pick seriously rare.
The reference 1506 is one of the rarest vintage models created by Patek Philippe but it can also boast the fact that it’s also one of the largest too. With a case diameter that measures 36mm and the long multi-facetted lugs – with a width of 20mm apart – on the wrist these details lend to an overall appearance that is in keeping with today’s trend. Let’s not forget this piece was produced in 1942. The case is in extremely good condition, along with the square chronograph pushers. There is just something about rose-on-rose and this is beautifully demonstrated in the dial. The rose-coloured dial is of course in excellent condition and features a tachymeter scale and raised hour indexes, with roman numerals at 6 and 12 o’clock. This reference 1506 is just quite simply stunning.
Estimate: €284,000 – €474,000
1927 PATEK PHILIPPE MONO-PUSHER DOCTORS CHRONOGRAPH REF. 130
Lot 123: Now, there are reference 130’s and then there are reference 130’s, this dear readers is the latter! I even doubt whether there are enough superlatives to sum up this downright killer vintage Patek Philippe Chronograph. As you may have gathered this is no ordinary Patek ref. 130, it is in fact the doctors’ single button chronograph and is simply one of the rarest timepieces within the complicated Patek Philippe wristwatch family.
You may have well read me going on about just how rare stainless steel Patek’ are and even more so when they’re vintage. Of course it is no different with this particular piece bar a few minute details that put this timepiece into the upper echelons of craziness in regards to rarity and value. You see, these pieces were always produced in gold, with the exception of two pieces. This ref. 130 bears the case number 504’146 and its identical sister bears the number 504’147, which is on permanent display at the Patek Philippe Museum. That makes this particular example the only known steel single button chronograph ref. 130 in private ownership. But quite remarkably this example has only seen two ownerships.
Another detail, which makes this ref. 130 unusual, is its size. Most Patek ref. 130 were between 33 33.5mm but this ref. 130 boasts a case diameter of 35mm and then there is the dial. The dial is as unique as they come; it features a matte silver dial with vertically positioned sub dials, a sector design, two Arabic numerals at 3 and 9 o’clock and an outer pulsations scale, which is unique to the two pieces ever made. The case, while unmolested and elegant, still has a sporty look and feel to it. I think it is safe to say, this is one of the rarest timepieces that I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting up-close with and I also think it is safe to say this particular Patek Philippe ref. 130 example will undoubtedly appeal to the passionate Patek collector that of course has, very deep pockets.
Estimate: €947,000 – €1,890,000
1948 PATEK PHILIPPE PERPETUAL CALENDAR CHRONOGRAPH REF. 1518
Lot 165: Another timepiece that has come to the market is this example of a Patek Philippe ref. 1518, which you may have heard me mention here before. The Patek Philippe reference 1518 is to many collectors and watch connoisseurs an absolute grail timepiece but I’m talking about the standard, so to speak, run of the mill yellow-gold 1518 with silver dial. Launched in 1941 the ref. 1518 was in production for approximately 14 years. Over those 14 years only 281 examples were produced.
A larger number of these were, as mentioned above, cased in yellow-gold. This made examples cased in pink-gold rather rare and even these were fitted with silver dials and in some rare circumstances, fitted with rose dials. It is known that only 12 watches feature this pink-on-pink dial combination, making this example that is up for auction one of the rarest complicated Patek’. Not to mention the fact that it is offered on an all original pink gold Gay Frères rice grain bracelet that was made at the request of the original owner, a French businessman, and cost an extra 1000 CHF, which isn’t far off the original purchase price of the timepiece itself.
The case is in exceptionally good condition due to it hardly ever being worn, which makes the hallmarks on the case extremely crisp and easily noticeable. The pink dial is just fabulous and only further compliments the case and bracelet, which highlights the deep blue moon phase disc at 6 o’clock. Strapping this 1518 to wrist you could just feel its grand presence, even though the case only measures 35mm – though most of this is due in part to the heft of the solid pink gold bracelet. It is said that not very often does a Patek Philippe ref. 1518 this honest and with this well documented provenance come to the market and when it does come, as a collector and connoisseur of Patek, you have to seize the moment, as it is unknown when such a piece may appear again.
Estimate: €758,000 – €1,330,000
1958 ROLEX OYSTER CHRONOGRAPH ANTI-MAGNETIQUE REF. 6236
Lot 211: The Rolex 6236, in my honest opinion, is probably one of the more humble lots on offer. The 6236 is the only Rolex Oyster model ever made to have featured a full calendar and chronograph, making the nicknamed “Dato-Compax” aka “Killy” (named after Olympic Skiing champion, who just so happened to wear such a piece) a simply rare and unusual Rolex. In production for approximately 20 years, from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, during its lifespan only four references were made: the 4767, 5036, 6036 and 6236.
This particular example was originally purchased in the south of Italy in 1958 and features the original Italian calendar discs. The dial has a lovely creamy patina to it, with the luminous plots to match. The dial features the seldom seen variant, with the 1 at the 12 o’clock position and not the more commonly seen 31-date scale. The case is in lovely condition and comes on an original hollow link riveted bracelet. Probably not a timepiece that will break Rolex auction records but this particular 6236 will set its own personal record, seeing as it’s never been under the hammer before.
Estimate: €142,000 – €237,000
1971 ROLEX OYSTER COSMOGRAPH “ALBINO”
Lot 214: There are a few big hitters in the upcoming Phillips One auction and this is without doubt one of them. This Rolex Cosmograph 6263 is a rather special piece and as you may already know, the detail is in the dial. To date, only four examples of the reference 6263 “Albino” white dial have surfaced, making it one of the rarest Cosmographs you will ever see up for auction. The minor difference between these and an ordinary run of the mill, white dial 6263, are the sub dials, which feature the same silvery sunburst finish of the dial – lending to the nickname it has been given; “Albino”. This unusual 1971 ref. 6263, while rare, can also boast something else. None other than one Mr. Clapton purchased it in the late 1990s and some years later it was auctioned by Christie’s New York on the 5th of June 2003.
The ref. 6263 “Albino” is a curious timepiece for me, as it’s hard to fathom just why it was made and also why in such a small quantity? Of course there are other rare Daytona examples in existence, such as the prototype Yacht-Master Paul Newman, which belongs to none other than John Goldberger that quite possibly is as rare as it gets? It is amazing to think that Rolex made pieces like these. And while this 6263 “Albino” can also boast the fact that it belonged to probably one of the most popular guitarists in the world, again I don’t think this will make a difference when the hammer goes down.
Estimate: €474,000 – €947,000
1950 PATEK PHILIPPE CHRONOGRAPH REF. 1463
Lot 221: Probably the least glamorous Patek’ amongst the ones that I’ve highlighted thus far but this is a personal favourite for me, plus not to mention the fact that I’m a massive lover of chronographs in general, which you may have heard me mention here and here. Stainless steel vintage Patek chronographs are just about as cool as it gets but the ref. 1463 can boast that it is indeed the first ever fully waterproof Patek chronograph. When introduced in the early 1940s, the stainless steel ref. 1463 probably best epitomised the term “toolwatch” in my humble opinion. Just look at it – it is easily one of Patek’ most versatile vintage timepieces and there is no doubt in my mind that when Patek Philippe introduced this watch, they had the active bon vivant clientele in mind.
There are different dial variations available on the 1463 but probably the most desirable of them all, is this Breguet numeral version and this for me increases the 1463’s versatility not to mention it’s, rather large in that era, case. Just as a note: while most believe the case diameter is 35mm, its in fact 34.5mm, which is how Patek Philippe also originally listed the timepiece too in old catalogues. In my opinion the 1463 is one of the most daily wearable but tactful vintage Patek’ around and these details are what also make it one of the most collectable too.
Estimate: €265,000 – €398,000
For more lot information on The Phillips Geneva Auction: One that will take place on the 10th May in La Reserve Hotel, Gevena, visit the official Phillips Watches website to view the full catalogue.