Auction house Phillips entered the world of watch sales at the weekend with two days of record-breaking sales in Geneva achieving CHF 29.6million (£20.5m).
Phillips, looking for a substantial slice of buoyant global watch auction market, set up its new watch department in November last year, working in partnership with Bacs and Russo, a private consultancy co-founded by former head of watch department at Christie’s, Aurel Bacs and his wife Livia Russo. Bacs is also the man who purchased the Patek Philippe Graves Supercomplication at Sotheby’s in November for $24m on behalf of an anonymous client.
Edward Dolman, chief executive officer and chairman of Phillips, said: “We are proud with the results for our inaugural auctions which already position Phillips as the house of choice for the very best collectors’ watches. To consider that the Phillips Watch department was only launched in November, it pays the greatest testament to the team at Phillips and, perhaps most of all, the stewardship and reputation of Aurel Bacs and Livia Russo, to have achieved so much in so little time.”
The first sale on Saturday focused solely on Rolex Day-Date models, with 60 of the rarest examples. With over 300 people in the salesroom, 100% of the lots sold for a total of CHF 6.18million (£4.28m). The highest price was achieved for ‘Big Kahuna’, one of only two known 6612 references known to exist in platinum. It smashed the world record auction price for a Rolex Day-Date achieving CHF 473,000 (£327,870).
Yesterday saw the main sale with lots from a multitude of watch brands, which realised a total of CHF 23.4million (£16.27m). The star lot was a Patek Philippe monopusher chronograph from 1927 which achieved CHF 4.64million (£3.22m), which became the new record price for a stainless steel watch at auction.
After the sale Bacs, who presided over the auctions, commented: “It is a great honour to have been welcomed back to the rostrum with such warmth from the watch collecting community and we are thrilled to have been able to launch Phillips watches with such strong results. The market reacts with the greatest appetite to the rarest and most exceptional watches as seen by the magnificent single button chronograph by Patek Philippe, which drew bids from collectors in four continents”.
The next Phillips watch auctions will take place in Geneva in November which will include, for the first time, the biennial Only Watch charity auction. A sale in Hong Kong will follow in December.