Soaring prices for luxury watches selling at auction is fuelling demand for Rolex, Patek Philippe and other brands as customers increasingly see prestige timepieces as assets that hold or even increase in value over time.
Panerai could pull off the same trick this week with an auction of three unique prototype watches that cannot be bought through normal retail channels.
Sotheby’s is hosting the online-only auction for the Panerai prototypes, and will hope that it is as successful as a similar sale last year, when a bronze Luminor Submersible watch sold at Sotheby’s for five times its low estimate.
“We are thrilled to offer these unique pieces in auction, says Jean-Marc Pontroué, Panerai CEO. “Our R&D team works relentlessly to design and create new models that encompass the history of our brand with a determined look towards the future. With this special auction we are aiming to satisfy clients who look to differentiate themselves and value the utmost exclusivity. Sotheby’s is the perfect partner to amplify this new initiative and we look forward to meeting these clients to introduce them to the world of Panerai.”
Leading the sale is the prototype of the yet-to-be-released Lab-ID, a version of Panerai’s Luminor 1950 in carbon that will be limited to just 50 watches when it goes on general sale. The auction, which is already live, has a high bid of £60,000 today, the top end of its pre-sale estimate.
A prototype of a modern Mare Nostrum, originally developed for Italian Naval officers in the 1940s has a current high bid of £30,000.
The prototype for Panerai’s Radiomir Firenze, which sold as a 99 piece limited edition in 2016, has already reached £32,000.
The auction ends on November 19.
Laurence Nicolas, head of Sotheby’s Global Jewelry & Watches Divisions, says: “For 274 years Sotheby’s has presented collectors with opportunities to purchase some of the rarest and finest objects in the world. Watch prototypes are such treasured pieces, for they not only tell the story of a brand but also shed light on the history of horology. Never before has Panerai allowed collectors to acquire prototypes and we are thrilled to partner with them again this year in this innovative online auction format.”