Auction News

Avant-garde watches get high-style auction 


A Geneva watch auction will take a new approach in order to sell some extremely arresting vintage, luxury watches. 

Sotheby’s are working with a watch-focused art collective, Heist-out, to style and hold the show called Rough Diamonds. 

With a sales pitch that is unusually downbeat about its products, Sotheby’s say in a statement that the 24 items are, “like rough diamonds, […]still waiting for their time to shine and be rediscovered.” 

The Patek Philippe Ref. 3290 set by Gilbert Albert has an estimate of CHF 30,000 to 50,000, about £27,000 to £45,000.

The names on the auction catalogue though include some of the finest in horological history: 

Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Jaeger-LeCoultre are familiar to all fine watch fans. 

Audemars Piguet car-shaped white gold, diamond, and emerald wristwatch by Jacqueline Dimier. Estimate CHF 40,000 to 80,000 (around £37,000 to £73,000).

All of the items for sale are over 30 years old (some as old as 75) and have been selected because they exhibit at least two of these characteristics: tech innovation, rarity, astonishing design, rare materials, historical significance, notable ownership history and provenance, perfect craftsmanship. 

Estimates for the items in the sale run from £1,780 (CHF 2,000) to £90,000 (CHF 100,000). 

Josh Pullan of Sotheby’s Luxury Division, said: “[The idea is to] bring to market a new auction concept that not only addresses this strong appetite, but also offers a curated focus on unusually remarkable timepieces that we hope will excite vintage watch aficionados the world over.”

Audemars Piguet Cobra Khanjar white gold bracelet watch with day and date is for sale with an estimate up to CHF 100,000 (around £90,000).

Designers including Gilbert Albert, Daryoush Shafa, Jacqueline Dimier, and Charles de Temple are said to have created pieces of “originality, punch and personality”.

Will they sell? 

Watch design is innovative and often flashy and even decadent. 

But the functionality of watches is just one factor that keeps aesthetics within relatively tight guide-rails. 

Some of the most sought-after watches are spectacularly complex and exquisitely detailed underneath relatively conservative and even utilitarian exteriors.

Different looks can sell though. The Daliesque melted face of the Cartier Crash hasn’t stopped it becoming an iconic piece with a record top price of $1.65 million.

The sale takes place – underground – on April 11 in Geneva. The catalogue will be available online soon. 

Just Collecting