Independents and Small Creative Brands

Do Well at May 2023 Auction

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Ineichen Auction House continues a series of successful themed auctions with its May 2023 auction. This auction was primarily dedicated to the theme of independent watchmakers and small creative brands, which we believe are one of the driving forces in the modern watch auction market. Of the 39 lots, 37 were sold. All sold lots were well above the lower estimate, while the total amount was CHF 3,659,200. This is, of course, a testament to the continued interest of collectors in the chosen theme of the auction and to the careful approach of the Ineichen team in assembling a collection for this sale. 

The top lot, with a high bid of CHF 505,000, was the probably unique Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Grande Complication Ref. 25865BC.OO.11055BC.01 in white gold with salmon dial, marked with the number 16 on the case and issued in 2004. An extremely rare, possibly unique version of the caliber 2885 makes this timepiece even more special and attractive: its rose gold mainplate and bridges perfectly harmonize with the salmon dial. This is the only example of Ref. 25865BC that appeared on the market in such a version. In our opinion, just like the reference, this watch still has good growth potential. 

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Grande Complication. Image by Ineichen

F. P. Journe 30 Years Anniversary Tourbillon Ref. T30, one of 99 pieces of a limited edition, an unusual sterling silver and rose gold watch with a caliber specially developed for this model, reached CHF 410,000. This seems to be the best result for this rare reference, which is currently considered one of the most important and sought-after watches among F.P. Journe collectors. 

F. P. Journe 30 Years Anniversary Tourbillon. Image by Ineichen

The third result was the Richard Mille RM 67-02 Automatic Winding Extra Flat, which cost CHF 300,000. The world's lightest self-winding watch, known as 'Zverev"," was developed in collaboration with tennis player Alexander Zverev. Together with F.P. Journe, Richard Mille enjoys a rare status on the market, where previously enjoyed watches are often sold at prices higher than the official retail value - a trend that largely determines the situation on the auction market for Richard Mille watches. 

Richard Mille RM 67-02 Automatic Winding Extra Flat. Image by Ineichen

The Gelfman IN -16 Nixie No.001/999 attracted the greatest interest from the public, who were attracted by its unusual retro-futuristic design and function. A total of 25 bids were placed, and eventually the watch sold for CHF 21,000. This was three times the lower estimate, which is why this lot was also the top seller of the auction in terms of bidding increase. 

Gelfman IN -16 Nixie No.001/999. Image by Ineichen

Also noteworthy are the good results of early releases from independent watchmakers and small creative brands. The Ineichen team has done a good job of putting together a truly outstanding selection. This includes the rare and classy Vianney Halter Classic White Gold No. 47W.197. CL (sold for CHF 59,000), the elegant Galet Classic Tourbillon Double Spiral Ref. LCF001-G with black onyx dial, one of the first four Laurent Ferrier references (sold for CHF 60,000), the magnificent Daniel Roth Chronograph Monopusher Ref. C137 Numero 7 (sold for CHF 80,000), the exquisite Roger Dubuis Sympathie Chronographe Ref. S37 56 5 (sold for CHF 58,000), the minimalist DB1 Ref. DB1W No. 014, one of the earliest De Bethune watches (sold for CHF 140,000), an early and metiers-d'art Alain Silberstein Tourbillon Cloisonné Houx Piece Unique No. 1/1 (sold for CHF 107,000), the futuristic UR-102 'Sputnik' #50 'Black Dial 5-Minute Marks', one of the first two Urwerk references (sold for CHF 60,000), and the biker-style Loiste 10:0061 Prototype, one of Stepan Sarpaneva's historically important early watches (sold for CHF 17,500). 

The charismatic one-of-a-kind 28INV-1/1 by Kari Voutilainen achieved an impressive result of CHF 175,000. The unique style and high-quality workmanship of this watchmaker's watches won the approval of the collector community. In our opinion, Voutilainen's auction prospects can be described as bright. 

Voutilainen 28TI Piece Unique. Image by Ineichen

The independent watchmakers of the new wave also showed encouraging results. In particular, a unique and highly unusual Eccentricity Prototype by Cyril Brivet-Naudot, never before seen on the market, sold for CHF 95,000. The unique No. 02 'Monochrome", made mostly by hand by Thierry Ducret, a watchmaking teacher, achieved a price of 82,000 CHF. The Racer Jumping Hour GMT Piece Unique with double retrograde display, jumping hour hand and Empire-style dial by Anton Suhanov sold for CHF 33,000. Boutique brands offering bespoke watches, such as Molnar Fabry and Benzinger, featured at this auction, may not have the attention of the collector community that independent watchmakers and established brands enjoy, but thanks to their amazing ingenuity and impressive craftsmanship, they too achieved good results. Most notably, the Molnar Fabry Atlantis Tourbillon Piece Unique Ref. 51019 sold for CHF 90,000. Michal Molnár, co-founder of the brand, said, 

It was professional well prepared auction, good communication and propagation of the auction. We really liked also the dedicated website with all Independent watchmakers. The results of the auction were satisfying for us and we will be happy to participate also for the next time. Thank you to the whole Ineichen team.

Molnar Fabry Atlantis Tourbillon Piece Unique. Image by Ineichen

Johen Benzinger, a renowned artist of guilloché, hand engraving and skeletonization, whose unique Subscription 'Blue Joy' watch sold for CHF 12,000, also expressed satisfaction with the work of the Ineichen team: 

The cooperation with the auction house Ineichen, Zurich, was a success for us in every respect! Already in the run-up to the auction we were competently looked after by the staff and from the very beginning we had the feeling that our watch was in the best hands there. The auction itself was excellently prepared in terms of product and advertising by the Ineichen experts and proceeded to our fullest satisfaction! We are looking forward to further joint actions with the Zurich auction house!

Benzinger Subscription 'Blue Joy'. Image by Ineichen

Ilya Gelfman, who recently took over Ineichen, believes that the team should continue the strategy of themed auctions: 

It was an encouraging experience for me. We have already set a goal to prepare a new edition of 'Independents'. I expect it to take place later this year or early next year. And of course, I expect new breakthroughs from our team!

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