On November 10 and 11, the watch-collecting world will again turn its attention to Geneva for the fall auction season. Since its partnership with Bacs & Russo commenced in 2014, Phillips has emerged as a steady source of headline-grabbing lots and broken records, often involving watches with very impressive provenance. This sale may not have a show-stopping top lot like the last few Phillips sales, but there are still plenty of really interesting watches that jumped out at us when we opened the catalog. Here are 13 watches that caught our eye and that you definitely don’t want to miss.
Lot 111 – Omega Speedmaster Ref. 2915-1
There are two pretty great looking Omega Speedmaster Ref. 2915s in this sale. The Ref. 2915 “Broad Arrow” is the very earliest of Speedmasters, and is consequently one of the most sought after vintage sports watches at major auctions. As Rolex Daytonas have heated up to impossibly high prices, interest in the rarest and earliest Speedmasters have followed suit. Here we have a tropical 2915-1 (there is also 2915-2 in the sale). This being the the earlier of the two, it seems to be the more desirable, and there’s also the fact that its dial has taken on this wonderful patina. Last May at Phillips we saw a record for this reference, and for Speedmasters in general, when a ref 2915-1 brought home $408,500. I think this watch has a decent shot at breaking that record.
Estimate: $154,000-$307,000. See the full listing here.
Lot 145 – Laurent Ferrier Traveller For HODINKEE
This extremely rare no-date titanium GMT with enamel dial is the very first HODINKEE limited edition to come up for sale at one of the big auction houses, and it doesn’t really get any bigger than a Phillips Geneva sale, does it? There are just 15 of these watches in the world, and this small number of watches actually accounts for the totality of the Laurent Ferrier GMTs made in 2017. The wearer can set his or her home time on 24-hour scale in the window at nine o’clock. The pusher at 10 o’clock jumps the local hour hand forward in one-hour increments. A second pusher at eight moves the local hour back in single hours. The enamel sector dial is stunning, in two different shades of blue, with a matching 24-hour disk in blue. The chronometer-rated movement is simply one of the most elegant calibers in contemporary watchmaking, and of course, it’s outfitted with Laurent Ferrier’s Natural Escapement.
Estimate: $30,700-$61,500. See the full listing here.
Lot 104 – Patek Philippe Ref. 570 In Steel
The first reference 570 that we are including in this roundup was illustrated in John Goldberger’s Patek Philippe Steel Watches. It’s an early example of this reference to feature central indication of the seconds – and yet it’s still powered by the early 12‴120 subsidiary seconds caliber. The central seconds come via a center seconds mechanism added to the ebauche, a strong demonstration of Patek’s technical prowess in the late 1940s. This 36.5mm Calatrava has a wonderfully crisp steel case and comes with an extract from the archives.
Estimate: $61,500-$123,000. See the full listing here.
Lot 105 – Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 3800/1
This is definitely something you don’t see every day: an extremely rare and previously unknown platinum Nautilus with sweep seconds and an unusual grey dial graduated for hours and minutes. The piece we have here is a reference 3800, the first evolution of the Nautilus from the original ref. 3700. The 3800, which first appeared in the early ’80s, is known for having a slightly smaller case than the original of ’76: It’s just 37.5mm in in diameter. This watch’s platinum case (not previously seen in a ref. 3800) and bracelet, paired with its highly unusual dial and the fact that it has not been seen before, make this one very interesting sports watch, and one that lots of people will have their eyes on.
Estimate: $81,900-$123,000. See the full listing here.
Lot 223 – Patek Philippe Ref. 570
This may not be the only Ref. 570 in this sale, but it is probably the most interesting. To start, it has a 36.5mm 14k gold case made by the casemaker Genevor, which produced cases slightly larger (by .5mm) than the standard 18k 570. What makes this watch really sing, apart, of course, from its quite beautiful condition, is its glossy black dial with arabic numerals at the cardinal positions. This is a sharp-looking, early example of the 570, and you can bet that it will attract major interest when it goes up for sale.
Estimate: $102,000-$154,000. See the full listing here.
Lot 224 – Patek Philippe “Officier” Chronograph
The final lot of this sale, this extremely early “wrist chronograph,” stands a good chance of also being the sale’s top lot. Dating from 1924, this 34mm gold officer’s watch is one of Patek Philippe’s earliest chronographs. Single-button chronographs like this one are extremely rare in the pantheon of great collectible Patek Philippe watches, and this one is in great condition. It also has the more unusual vertical (as opposed to horizontal) layout of the chronograph sub-dials. The chronograph is actuated via a crown pusher. The small bump just above the crown is a slide that once can use to lock the crown and prevent inadvertent activation of the chronograph.
Estimate: $410,000-$819,000. See the full listing here.
Lot 58 – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Owned By Emmanuel Gueit
This is something special indeed. What we have here is a very early and rare AP Royal Oak Offshore owned by one Emmanuel Gueit, the in-house AP designer charged with breathing new life into Gerald Génta’s iconic Royal Oak. Gueit’s reinterpreting of such an important modern sports watch was no simple task, but 25 years on, it can be judged as a critical and commercial success, as well as a design that would go on to influence other modern sports watches. In addition to being the Royal Oak Offshore owned and worn by the watch’s designer, the watch is accompanied by original sketches of the Offshore. This watch has great provenance, and is sure to attract lots of attention.
Estimate: $41,000-$81,900. See the full listing here.
Lot 86 – Rolex Ref. 6238 With Tropical Tritium Dial
In the early 1960s, watchmakers were transitioning away from using radium on dials in favor of comparatively safer tritium. Initially, Rolex informed potential buyers of this change via a small underline under the 12 or 6 on the dial. The company then switched to a more straightforward designation: two “T”s placed on either side of the “Swiss” at the bottom of the dial. In the case of this watch, the “115” and “125” of the tachymeter scale would seem to have made such a placement of the familiar tritium “T”s impossible, so the unusual decision was made to place the “T”s just below the sub-dial at the six o’clock position. Adding to this already unusual “suspended Ts” dial’s appeal is the fact that it’s gone tropical.
Estimate: $256,000-$512,000. See the full listing here.
Lot 192 – Rolex Ref. 6542 GMT-Master With Left-Hand Case
The Rolex GMT-Master, first released in the middle 1950s, was designed for Pan Am pilots, and supplied mostly in stainless steel cases. It was, after all, a tool to aid professionals in doing their job. Rolex did make some gold pieces, and they also on rare occasions made left-handed timepieces. This watch, born in 1959, ticks both boxes. The location of the engravings for the reference number and the serial number confirm that the watch was not tampered with, and that it was born a lefty, making it an exceptionally rare and original Rolex sports watch.
Estimate: $123,000-$246,000. See the full listing here.
Lot 195 – Patek Philippe Ref. 530 Retailed by Astrua Torino
The catalog doesn’t mention it, but this extremely rare Patek Philippe ref. 530 chronograph retailed by the Turin-based Astrua in 1940 comes from the collection of none other than Jean-Claude Biver, and it was even featured in the legendary watch-industry figure’s appearance on Talking Watches. The case is a large-for-its-time 36mm and remains in spectacular condition for a timepiece born so long ago. It’s also the only 530 known to be signed Astrua. The high estimate for this watch puts it just north of $800,000, but it may go much higher.
Estimate: $410,000-$819,000. See the full listing here.
Lot 42 – Rolex Oyster Chronograph Ref. 6336 “Jean-Claude Killy”
The market for Rolex sports watches and chronographs has reached otherworldly levels in recent years. With this nearly pristine wristwatch, named for the Rolex ambassador and three-time Olympic alpine skiing champion Jean-Claude Killy, you get both a Rolex sports watch and a complicated wristwatch. This is a wonderful example of an extremely rare and important vintage Rolex, and yet its high estimate of $615,000 remains well below the finest and rarest Daytonas.
Estimate: $307,000-$615,000. See the full listing here.
Lot 52 – Oversized 1930s Minerva Chronograph
This is an interesting example of a massive, multiscaled (telemeter and tachymeter) chronograph from the 1930s, and it comes to us from Minerva, a specialist in the category that was purchased by Richemont in 2006 and whose erstwhile manufacture now makes many of the haute horlogerie pieces in the modern-day Montblanc range. This 45.5mm chronograph is powered by he cal. 19/9CH, a monopusher chronograph movement that was originally conceived to power pocket watches.
Estimate: $20,500-$41,000. See the full listing here.
Lot 78A – Patek Philippe Ref. 3974
And finally, we have a ref. 3974 in platinum. To many, ref. 3974 is the ne plus ultra of late 20th century Patek Philippe watch design. This extremely complicated minute repeater perpetual calendar is one of eight known examples made in platinum over the reference’s eleven-year production run. This watch is also important from an horogical standpoint: The ref. 3974, launched in 1989 (this particular example is from 1994), was the first-ever self-winding minute repeater. This is another timepiece that stands an excellent chance of being the Phillips November auction’s top lot.
Estimate: $717,000-$1,020,000. See the full listing here.
Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: Eight takes place on November 10 and 11, and you can see the full catalog here.