The Geneva watch auction season is an opportunity for friends to get together as dealers and collectors from all four corners of the globe congregate in Geneva, the spiritual home of watchmaking. With prices now getting higher and higher each year, buying at the big sales is getting more and more difficult as the market soars for quality watches from the big brands such as Rolex and Patek. Buyers are now looking further afield to brands that would traditionally have not been as popular and now we are seeing these watches appear at auction.
Pair of Precious Pateks
We have had a look through the catalogue and would like to share with you some of our favourites from the upcoming sales. As ever, there are some serious watches going under the hammer this coming weekend, including two possibly unique Patek Philippe reference 2499s – one signed Asprey (at Sotheby’s) and the other with the retailer Serpico Y Laino (at Christie’s) on the dial. Each also has the respective retalier’s stamp in the caseback. There were only 349 pieces made over a 35-year period, making them a rare watch in their own right. The SyL example is housed in a case from the casemaker Wenger and was an impressive size for the era, measuring almost 38mm. We love oversize watches from the 50s, they wear well and hold their own in today’s market where people prefer a little more presence on the wrist. These watches will both do incredibly well and will undoubtedly set new records for the 2499 reference.
Patek Philippe reference 2499 retailed by Asprey
Patek Philippe reference 2499 retailed by Serpico Y Laino (SyL)
The SyL case back stamp on the reference 2499
Rare Zenith Daytona
We have recently fallen in love once again with the early self-winding Daytonas. With the prices of plexi glass manual wind Daytonas getting crazy, collectors and buyers are looking at the first series of automatic Daytonas. Housed in a bigger case, with crown guards, a sapphire crystal and driven by a modified Zenith El-Primero movement the 16500 series watches were a smash hit when released at Baselworld in 1988. It breathed new life into the Daytona family and was the founder of the now commonplace ‘waiting list’ for steel Rolex sports watches. There are always some great examples in the big sales, especially the rare gem set pieces. Sotheby’s have a very cool white gold Zenith movement 16519 with exceedingly rare salmon dial. The dial, featuring arabic markers, was only produced in very small numbers as a test or prototype dial. It never made it to full production and so is very desirable to collectors. And we love salmon dials here, so we had to share this one!
Rolex Daytona ref 16519 with rare salmon dial
Back in the early days of the forums and big meetings, we used to get very excited about the dials that had turned brown. No two dials were ever the same and we spent hours discussing how this had happened and going crazy about beautiful chocolate Big Crown Subs or super cool tobacco-hued GMT Masters. Sotheby’s have a pair of amazing tropical Rolex pieces that have been consigned by a private collector. Both examples are no-crown-guard watches or NCGs to use geek-speak! The GMT is a sharp reference 6542 with its original bakelite bezel insert in outstanding condition. And the case…wow! The dial is, in our minds at least, more of a caramel colour. The small 24-hour and and whites second hand tick all the boxes for collectors of this reference. The second is a Big Crown Submariner, reference 6538, which also remains in very original and beautiful condition. The bezel insert has the red triangle and the dial is a milk chocolate colour. The dial is also rare due to the four lines of text in the lower half; the four lines having three different applications and fonts – the depth rating is printed in white, the SUBMARINER text is in gilt relief and the OCC in a grey print. This pair will have sweet success!
Tropical Rolex GMT-Master reference 6542
Beautiful four-line tropical Rolex Submariner ‘Big Crown’ reference 6538
We have loved wearing slightly smaller AP and Patek watches in recent years. Phillips has a fascinating platinum Nautilus reference 3800/1 (Lot 105) in their sale. Platinum Nautilus watches are rare, but add into the equation this unusual anthracite dial, without the signature horizontal lines and baton hands, and the offered lot is a an interesting watch for collectors. It’s also somewhat smaller than the original 3700, having been reduced from 42mm down to 37.5mm. The watch has an archive extract confirming its delivery as presented in the sale. One to watch…
Unique Patek Philippe Nautilus 3800/1 in platinum
We could only imagine the anxiety and disappointment to lose your treasured diving watch, your ‘tool of the trade’, in the post on its way back from service. This, however, is what happened to the original owner of a 5514 Rolex Submariner who had been issued it for his work as a commercial diver with Comex. In a very unusual move, Rolex created a new watch for him from scratch, using existing parts in stock. The case has a 1978 serial (much later than delivered 5514) and they modified a matte Maxi dial with the Comex logo. They even created a unique caseback engraving – the allegedly lost number was number 734and so the caseback was engraved 734B. The watch was originally bought by a friend of ours, one of the most knowledgeable Comex authorities in the world, and so we have seen it a number of times. It will be interesting to see how it performs.
Special Comex Rolex Submariner reference 5514 – ‘734B’
Steel Doctor’s Watch
We recently interviewed a great client and friend of Bulang and Sons who has a passion for pulsation scale watches, the type used by Doctors to quickly ascertain a patients pulse rate. Phillips has a very cool pulsation scale watch, housed in a steel step-case chronograph dating to the mid to late 1940s. The Longines reference 3504 is in remarkable condition and features the 13Zn movement. The glossy black dial is in unbelievably strong condition – it really is like new. I actually think we could run a competition asking for people to find something they don’t like about the watch. For sure, nobody would win!
Longines reference 3504 Pulstaion scale chronograph