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Geneva Phillips Auction 2017

November 1, 2017

BY Paul Altieri


Now that the dust has settled and jaws have been lifted off the ground following the astonishing amount paid out for Paul Newman’s Paul Newman (you may have heard about it), we can look ahead to auction house Phillips in Association with Bacs and Russo bringing us another selection of rare and beautiful timepieces to go under the hammer.

After the record-shattering sum at Phillips’ inaugural New York sale, WINNING ICONS, the November 11th-12th weekend sees the show returning to its spiritual home in the Swiss city of Geneva.

Geneva Phillips Auction 2017

Paul Newman’s Paul Newman went for $17 Million.

With the majority of the catalog up for grabs during the evening sessions on both days, Geneva Watch Auction: SIX, much like the ‘Legendary Icons of the 20th Century’ sale, is preceded by another of Phillips’ specially-themed events.

The Crosthwaite & Gavin Collection: A Thematic Sale of Vintage Heuer Watches starts proceedings off on Saturday, an assortment of timepieces from Heuer’s 150-year history, focusing particularly on the Jack Heuer era from 1962 to 1982. Among the 49 pieces from the Heuer collection that will be auctioned off, taken from the private collection of respected authors and brand authorities Richard Crosthwaite and Paul Gavin, are two exceptionally rare yachting models; the 1963 Autavia ref. 2446 ‘First Execution’ Seafarer, one of only three known examples in existence, and the Carrera ref. 2447S Yachting with a unique tropical dial.

To round out the themed segment of the sale, the latest version of the new Autavia, designed by the legendary Jack Heuer himself, will be auctioned off. A faithful update of the acclaimed ref. 2446 from the mid-sixties, it was the design voted for by the public as the one they most wanted to see revived. All proceeds go to the Save The Children foundation; an extremely worthy cause dedicated to ensuring the most vulnerable in society get a better start in life.

Geneva Phillips Auction 2017

Here is one example of a Heuer watches that will go under the hammer.

Geneva Phillips Auction 2017: Geneva Watch Auction SIX

Established for more than 200 years, Phillips is renowned as one of the truly great auction houses, conducting sales in the past for such illustrious names as Napoleon Bonaparte and Marie Antoinette.

Teaming up with celebrated auctioneer Aurel Bacs and his partner Livia Russo in 2014, they have quickly become the market leader in rare vintage watch sales, with a host of world records to their name and more than $100 million in revenue.

Their November event, held at the Hôtel La Réserve in Geneva, brings together another collection of stunning examples of some of the finest timepieces ever made—a treasure trove of exceptional watches from the likes of Patek Philippe, Panerai, Rolex, and Vacheron Constantin.

In all, there are 157 lots on offer. Below, we’ve picked out a few of the highlights.

Geneva Phillips Auction 2017

Rolex Daytona ref. 16528 Estimate CHF100,000 – 200,000

Lot 149: Rolex Daytona ref. 16528

In amongst a wealth of Daytonas, including several Paul Newman references, is this extravagant yellow gold model; an extremely rare edition of the horology world’s hottest property.

Topped by a blue sunray dial by Singer, the demand for the unusual color scheme was so small that the combination never appeared commercially, even as the internal mechanism was upgraded for the first time to an automatic caliber, starting the Daytona on its way to being one of the most desirable watches in the world.

Instead, the tiny number of examples produced were given away as gifts to Rolex’s partners, suppliers and management teams.

Anyone with a passing interest in vintage watches will be able to work out the math on this one. When the world’s leading manufacturer produces a strictly limited edition of their most sought after model, the result is going to be a stratospheric price tag. The estimate for this rarefied ref. 16528 is between CHF100,000 and CHF 200,000. Taking a lesson from the recent New York auction, expect it to go far higher.

Geneva Phillips Auction 2017

The Luminor ‘Panerai L’ ref. 6152/1 Estimate CHF80,000 – 160,000

Lot 209: The Luminor ‘Panerai L’ ref. 6152/1

A familiar profile with a fascinating backstory, this distinctively Panerai military watch is one of only 64 known to still exist. To further set this particular example apart, its delicate rotating bezel is intact, something only three of the other remaining pieces can still claim.

Dating from the mid-fifties, its Rolex-manufactured case measures an extremely large for the period 47mm, with the trademark elliptical crown guard contributing to a major part of its dimensions. As well as forming an emblematic aspect of the brand’s overall look for several generations, it also formed so effective a waterproof shield that the watch could be wound underwater.

Inside, the manual, 17 jewel Cal. 718 movement is another Rolex contribution, complete with their signature on the bridge.

Formerly the property of Italian naval commander Admiral Gino Birindelli, he received the watch as recognition of his heroic service in WWII, when he completed countless secret underwater operations. Rising to the rank of Commander of NATO forces in the Mediterranean following the war, he went on to serve in the Italian parliament until his retirement.

With its scarcity value, as well as its important historical context, the Panerai L ref 6152/1 is offered with an estimate of CHF80,000 to CHF160,000.

Geneva Phillips Auction 2017

Urwerk ref. UR-202 Estimate CHF50,000 – 70,000

Lot 160: Urwerk ref. UR-202

Bringing the auction screeching right up to date, this black platinum UR-202 from Swiss horology anarchists Urwerk is a true one-of-a-kind piece.

Its unorthodox, offbeat case design has garnered it the nickname The Hammerhead, and it encloses a revolving satellite time display consisting of an ingenious system of cubes that rotate to show the hour, while a telescopic arm points to the minutes on a track along its base.

Further upping the creative peculiarities, its automatic movement is regulated by a pair of wind turbines, which can be adjusted for sensitivity by a lever on the case back. A trademark feature of Urwerk’s idiosyncratic designs, it is both utterly eccentric and highly effective.

As if that wasn’t enough for the watch to draw attention, the florescent green minute markers on the striped guilloché dial, and the red numbering on the hour indicators is a color scheme unique to this piece.

Urwerk is a brand at the very cutting-edge of the industry, but one that is steeped in classic watchmaking traditions. Their contemporary machines show us what is possible by combining centuries’ old technique with a futuristic vision, and are becoming a favorite among both investors and collectors looking for something very special.

Geneva Phillips Auction 2017

Patek Philippe ref. 2523/1 Estimate CHF700,000 – 1,400,000

Lot 257: Patek Philippe ref. 2523/1

The auction contains a host of insanely rare pieces from fabled Swiss watchmakers Patek Philippe, but the last lot of the evening stands apart even in this company.

The yellow gold, dual crown World Time ref. 2523/1 was produced in severely limited numbers; before now it was thought only nine were in existence. Lot 257 represents a hitherto unknown tenth example.

From 1964, it appeared the same year Patek stopped making watches with a world time complication, following the death of Louis Cottier, the man who invented the movement. It was only reintroduced into their range in 2000.

This model, with its beautifully polished case, distinctive angular lugs and flawless dial inscribed with 41 of the world’s major cities, is one of the rarest and most important pieces ever to emerge from the marque.

In superb condition, this historic timepiece has a reserve set at CHF700,000 to CHF1,400,000, a fitting way to round off what is sure to be another incredible evening.



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