This past weekend April 23, 2022 at the Haus Metropol in Zürich, Switzerland, Ineichen Auctioneers achieved CHF 2.8 million after selling 100% of the 50 lots offered at the Precious Blues auction. With the fantastic selection of beautiful and rare timepieces available, there was no doubt that the April auction would attract plenty of attention.
Over the last few years the blue dials proved to be the most versatile and popular, and many brands began to use them for their limited-edition models. As a result, the timeless blue dials became a novel and highly-preferred feature for many collectors.
Because of that, we at Ineichen dedicated our “Precious Blues” sale to celebration of the color blue with a beautiful selection of highly original wristwatches that feature not only blue dials, but also blue cases, blue bezels or other design elements colored in blue.
Leading the way was the Patek Philippe Nautilus Moon Phase Tiffany Dial that sold for CHF 290,000. Let’s face it – the stainless steel blue dial Nautilus is the most hyped watch on the planet. Given the low number of pieces available at authorized retailers and hence the long waiting lists, Ref. 5712/1A is considered to be one of the most desirable Nautilus ever.
The intense black and blue embossed dial stands out from the ordinary because of the unusual asymmetrical layout with the power reserve indicator located at 10 o’clock, the moon phase display between 7 and 8 o’clock and the small seconds counter between 4 and 5 o’clock. The in-house caliber 240 PS IRM C LU equipped with a gold micro-rotor and a Gyromax balance wheel gives this iconic model a touch of intriguing complexity.
It was clear from the start that the Patek Philippe was going to be the top priced lot of the day. The question was – which watch would take 2nd place? As it turned out, the two top contenders were the Richard Mille RM030 Blue Ceramic and the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain.
The one-of-100 timepiece, the high-tech RM030 watch comes in a typical Richard Mille tonneau-shaped case crafted from blue ceramic with a beautiful matte surface finish. This way you won’t be worrying about getting your treasured timepiece scratched, since ceramic is virtually scratch-proof. And thanks to the sophisticated declutching rotor system, another headache-causing problem for watchmakers has been solved too – Richard Mille’s simple but genius solution prevents the watch from overwinding.
It is unusual enough for Greubel Forsey timepieces to appear at auction. But the Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain with the Royal Blue dial is something really special.
This may not be the most technically complex watch from the ultra high-end brand founded by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, but it’s probably one of the prettiest. The bidder who was lucky enough to own this very exclusive piece will likely wear it often to admire the three-dimensional dial, radiating a flamboyant Royal Blue color.
Unlike most tourbillons that rotate once each 60 seconds, this inclined tourbillon placed at 7 o’clock rotates once each 24 seconds. No need to mention the superb level of hand-finishing of the movement, case and each every detail. A perfect example of ultra “haute horlogerie”, Greubel Forsey Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain was originally launched in an 33-piece limited edition in rose gold and here we have number 7 of 33.
As if the Nautilus was not already next to impossible to obtain, now the bar is set even higher so that even fewer people will ever own a new Nautilus unless they pay ungodly sums.
The typical example is this pair of Pateks (the Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph Two-Tone Ref. 5980/1AR and the Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph Stainless Steel Ref. 5980/1A) which achieved hammer prices of CHF 145,000 and CHF 130,000 respectively.
The auctions just keep raising the benchmark for selling prices of these iconic models, which certainly benefits Patek Philippe — and those currently holding onto their Nautilus watches. But the good news is: there are far more fascinating watches for the same amount of money.
With 4 pieces by De Bethune that made it to the top 10, the April sale turned out to be a real feast for the fans of De Bethune’s dream machines. Lots of blue and titanium, mobile lugs, three-dimensional moon phase, crown at 12 o’clock, space-inspired design… What more could a loyal fan wish for?
De Bethune DB28 Kind of Blue sold for CHF 130,000 fully represents the theme of the “Precious Blues” auction, because you couldn’t go much further than this in terms of being totally blue!
Celestial-inspired De Bethune DB25 Starry Sky watch (CHF 100,000) wonderfully recreates a starry night sky, by turning plain titanium from grey into an intense electric shade of blue. But you can’t have a night sky without the stars, right? And here they are: white gold pins and diamonds sparkling all over the dial, as well as the spherical moonphase indicator at 12 o’clock.
De Bethune DB28 Digitale (CHF 95,000) displays time without any hands – instead, the creative rule breakers offer the watch owner to travel through time with a help of a jumping hour at 12 o’clock and a radial minutes ring between 9 and 3 o’clock.
The “piece unique” from Daniel Roth is all about a successful marriage between the platinum Ellipsocurvex case and baguette sapphires, which provide a vivid and distinctive look thanks to their striking blue color. With its multi-layer skeleton dial and impressive number of complications, the Daniel Roth Perpetual Calendar Time Equation looks so great and modern that it could not be boring at all, even if it came without sparkling decoration on its bezel. However, with the addition of precious stones, the legendary French watchmaker reached an entirely new dimension in terms of design.
Brands like Patek Philippe might be hot right now, but as appreciation for the "Big Three" of Swiss watchmaking has grown, so has an appreciation for artisan independents. With plenty of strong showings from De Bethune, Daniel Roth and Konstantin Chaykin, we are eagerly anticipating many more excellent results in the next watch auction, taking place on 28 May.