We believe that one of the most important components of the dynamic development of our business is to follow the needs of our customers, mainly collectors and connoisseurs of fine watchmaking. We listen to their requests. On the one hand, it may seem that thematic sales narrow the offer, but on the other hand, they provide an opportunity for better research on the chosen topic, as well as a selection of the most promising, attractive and collectible lots. The active bidding during the white glove sale we made on 3 December confirms this. We’re moving forwards.
Artemy Lechbinsky, CEO
Zürich, 3 December, 2022 – Ineichen Auctioneers is pleased to announce the results of the ‘Complications: Dates & Calendars’ thematic auction, continuing the successful series of themed auctions held in 2022. The white glove sale featured 54 lots, all of which were sold, with 3 lots selling at a fixed price prior to the start of the live sale session. The sale totalled CHF2,901,500 and every lot bar one sold with bids in excess of their top estimate. The sale was led by an extremely rare piece, one that is almost unseen on the market – a second-generation Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in platinum with a mother-of-pearl dial and leap-year indication, which sold for CHF300,000 (lot 54, starting price CHF120,000). It generated huge interested, attracting 33 bids.
The blue chip category includes watches that have attracted consistently high interest in recent years. First of all, if we consider the lots put up for the ‘Complications: Dates & Calendars’ sale, these are watches from Audemars Piguet (namely the Royal Oak), A. Lange & Söhne, Vacheron Constantin, F. P. Journe and De Bethune.
The aforementioned Lot 54, that extremely rare second-generation Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar in platinum with a mother-of-pearl dial and leap-year indication – almost never seen on the market – deserves special attention. This example is marked by the serial No. 100 and case no. E-73367, and was released in the early 2000s. We found a later similar example, sold for CHF59,000 in 2006 at the Antiquorum Important Collectors Wristwatches sale in Geneva. It was made circa 2003 (according to Antiquorum) and is marked by the serial No. 137 and case no. F-08397. According to a logical assumption, we are not talking about over a hundred issued pieces. The serial marking was carried out on platinum reference examples and it does not apply to the use of a mother-of-pearl dial only. The basis for this assumption is the fact that similar examples appear on the market extremely rarely, while the emergence of related models of the first-generation (Ref. 25686PT, no leap-year indication) is more frequent – though Ref. 25686PT with a mother-of-pearl dial was characterised by Phillips at their Royal Oak 50th anniversary 2022 sale as “extremely rare and elusive”. Lot 54 sold for a record high* for this version. That said, we believe it still has significant growth potential due to its extreme rarity and high demand among collectors.
F.P. Journe watches have performed very strongly in the auction market lately, especially early references – some of which were featured in this sale. We would like to acknowledge the very rare, attractive and early second-generation astronomical platinum Octa Lune 38mm watch with 1300.2 caliber produced during a short transitional period, sold for CHF125,000 with an estimate of CHF60,000–80,000. This is a world record* for a 38mm platinum model with a white gold dial. However, in our opinion, this model is waiting for even further growth.
Lot 30, an F. P. Journe Octa Calendrier No. 013-04Q, is an extremely rare, attractive and early annual calendar platinum wristwatch and one of the earliest Octa Calendrier watches proposed at auction, sold for CHF160,000 with an estimate of CHF80,000–100,000. According to our information, this is a world record* for the first generation of this reference with a 38mm platinum case, white gold dial and rhodium-plated brass caliber 1300. The first-generation timepieces of standard F.P. Journe references featuring a brass caliber are keenly hunted, although the present early reference type has always been overshadowed by the much more sought-after ruthenium limited edition model, which we feel is unfair. However, in our opinion, the first-generation Octa Calendrier should soar. It has strong potential as the only annual F.P. Journe calendar and this world record will soon be broken, even if CHF160,000 seems to be a serious benchmark for this reference.
The results of the thematic sale on December 3 show a high interest in collectible calendar watches
Lot 43, a very rare, collectible and extremely fine white gold perpetual calendar De Bethune DB15 Perpetual Calendar Ref. DB15WT, which sold for CHF140,000 with an estimate of CHF70,000-80,000, is a strong indicator of the high growth in interest in watches of this brand. This is a new world record* for Ref. DB15WT, which significantly exceeded previous auction results. The same amount was raised for lot 44, reference DB15WT’s successor in the timeline of the development of the De Bethune collection – the extremely rare DB17 Perpetual Calendar Ref. DB17RT ‘Pre Triple Pare-chute’ with the earliest type of caliber. According to our knowledge, this is a world record* not only for this reference, but for any DB17 model at auctions.
Among the lots that aroused active interest and a large number of bids without achieving spectacularly high prices, we would like to highlight the following. Lot 39, a Parmigiani Fleurier Toric Chronograph 400Z in rose gold, attracted 29 bids and sold for CHF17,000 from an estimate of CHF6,000-8,000. Lot 52, the Vacheron Constantin Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 49005/000P-7622 in platinum with a copper-coloured so-called ‘salmon’ guilloché and ‘sigma’ dial, with 32 bids made, reached a hammer price of CHF68,000 from a starting bid of CHF 25,000. The most active interest among the public in terms of the number of bids made was generated by the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 Ref. 101.021, the earliest Lange 1 design in yellow gold with a ‘champagne’ dial, which went at CHF24,000 (estimated at CHF10,000–15,000) after 34 bids.
Very Good Growth Potential
Watches with very good growth potential include excellent pieces from several brands we perceive as clearly undervalued in the auction market, and which promise good prospects for the future.
Despite the active interest in many lots, resulting in a large number of bids, we observed a degree of underestimation and, accordingly, good prospects for several excellent pieces. This certainly includes two lots in platinum with copper-coloured so-called ‘salmon’ guilloché and ‘sigma’ dials – lot 52, a Vacheron Constantin Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. 49005/000P-7622, and lot 53, a Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques Chronograph Ref. 47101/4 Type2. The results shown by these pieces, CHF68,000 and CHF60,000 respectively, cannot be considered conclusive and consistent with the collector’s appeal of these outstanding designs, which can be regarded as some of the most attractive in the history of the brand.
The CHF30,000 raised for a superb platinum Perpetual Calendar Ref. 43031, the quintessential perpetual calendar model from Vacheron Constantin, with a guilloché and ‘sigma’ dial and the legendary K1120 QP self-winding caliber, is considered by us to be a clear underestimation, and we intend to further increase our efforts in researching and giving a detailed account of the features and evolution of this excellent perpetual calendar model. Also discouraging are the results shown by the Breguet classic perpetual calendars, Ref. 3787 – reaching CHF12,500 (lot 3) and CHF14,000 (lot 4). We consider those collectors who acquire such watches at the present stage of the market to be far-sighted, since the underestimation of these references seems clear. However, this is a free market, the value is determined by auction, and in this situation such an assessment is regrettable, but fair. The results achieved by the Parmigiani Fleurier Perpetual Calendars, lots 35, 38 and 40, very similar in execution to the aforementioned Breguet perpetual calendars, were CHF22,000, CHF22,000 and CHF24,500, respectively. These exceed the results of the Breguet perpetual calendars yet are still not a fair reflection. Given the very high price positioning chosen by the Parmigiani Fleurier brand, this significant decline from retail prices looks fair, but with the promise of a significant increase in aftermarket valuations when a correction occurs.
We feel there is good reason to believe that the hype and (sometimes unjustifiably) booming prices in the auction market for blue chips, including sought-after references from Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, F.P. Journe, De Bethune and some independent watchmakers, will also lead to a warming up of the estimates of competing brands on the auction market, especially concerning some particularly attractive designs and references.
* – According to the information we have, based on monitoring the sales of leading auction houses, primarily Phillips, Christie's, Sotheby's and Antiquorum.