Always a joy to stop by Phillips in New York City and spend time with Mr. Aurel Bacs and his team. After a Monday morning very well spent with our friends at Phillips Watches a week ago, here are five picks from the upcoming Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE to be conducted by Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo at the Hotel La Réserve in Geneva, Switzerland on May 13th and 14th, 2017. As you guys know, Phillips Watches is now the benchmark when it comes to watch auctions after several record-breaking auctions in Geneva and Hong Kong. Fully curated by Aurel Bacs and his team, the Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE is set to be another record-breaking auction where 'King Midas' —as we refer to Mr. Aurel Bacs of course in a very respectful way as anything he touches turns into real crazy money at the watch auctions— will bring the gavel down after giving his usual 'Fair Warning'.
Disclaimer: Since Phillips Watches is the only one that can provide you with a 'Condition Report' for any of the watches in their auctions, our live photography or verbiage regarding these watches is for your viewing/reading pleasure only. Our images or verbiage, should never be used in lieu of a condition report from Phillips. Regardless, it is important to clarify that our live photographs have not been subject to retouching or manipulation. Therefore, dust, the actual wear on watches, fingerprints and lint left from perusing the watches might still be present in our images and we apologize in advance for it.
The upcoming Phillips Watches Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE is yet another very well curated auction with some crazy highlights and stellar watches, some of them which have never been sold at auction before. With a total of 237 lots, the Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE includes a little bit of everything all the way from a gold Paul Newman Daytona with lemon grené dial a.k.a 'The Legend', to an extremely rare Patek Philippe ref. 2499, a crazy tropical dial Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 3700, a Royal Oak with Ferrari Red dial, an ultra-rare Rolex Triple Calendar ref. 6062 with moon phase, several vintage Omegas, the usual vintage GMT Masters, Daytonas, Pre-Daytonas, Submariners, Sea-Dwellers, Paul Newman Daytonas, Chronographs from Longines and Heuer, vintage Vacheron Constantin and even a super rare Patek Philippe Worldtimer ref. 2523 with two crowns and a Tiffany & Co. dial.
Our Five Picks
1. Gold Rolex Daytona Paul Newman ref. 6263 nicknamed 'The Legend'
One of the main highlights of this auction is the last lot, number 237, an ultra rare gold Rolex Daytona Paul Newman ref. 6263 nicknamed 'The Legend' fitted with a 'lemon' grené dial and case back stamped 6239. This watch, with an estimate of CHF 800,000-1,600,000 Swiss Francs, is clearly one that might break the record for the highest amount ever paid for a Rolex Daytona at auction. A record held up until now by the Rolex Paul Newman Daytona ref. 6263/6239 with box and papers that sold for $1,089,186 USD on November 10, 2013 at the Rolex Daytona "Lesson One" Auction as we reported here. Right behind this Paul Newman, we have the Rolex Daytona ref. 6239 nicknamed 'The Doctor' with pulsations dial that sold for CHF 900,000 Swiss Francs at the Phillips Watch Auction START-STOP-RESET on May 14, 2016. Our guess is that this lot number 237 will become the new record holder.
For decades, scholars and collectors have debated the possibility of a yellow gold Paul Newman wristwatch with screw down pushers. To some, it was virtually incomprehensible that a correct example would ever grace the market. The fact was even more pertinent as literature did not confirm the fact, nor did Rolex ever comment on the subject. Yet, the Rolex community discovered two yellow gold Daytonas with screw down pushers, both within a very close serial range, which displayed all the correct characteristics of an early "Paul Newman" dial.
Reference 6263 was launched in 1969, and both examples were manufactured in the very earliest stages of the model's production. Both had extremely early serial numbers, made during the reference's infancy —a period where Rolex was experimenting with different dial configurations. One example is proudly displayed in Ultimate Rolex Daytona by Pucci Papaelo, proudly named "The Legend". With two confirmed examples, the market was finally satiated, having recognized the "yellow gold Paul Newman with screw down pushers". Scholars and collectors now acknowledge its existence, and the model is considered the most important reference 6263 "Paul Newman" to exist, its rarity unparalleled even in comparison to the Oyster Sotto —the legendary reference 6263 with a black dial and "Rolex Cosmograph Oyster" signature.
The most dazzling aspect, is of course, the dial. A creamy lemon shade, its a sharp contrast with the ivory dials that were fitted to stainless steel Paul Newmans. The dial shimmers in way that can only be described as sublime, catching the sun rays and enhancing the "stepped" nature of the dial. The Rolex Oyster font does not feature any serifs, while the Cosmograph signature is slightly serifed, signifying the watch is among the earliest batches ever produced. It is also important to note that the dial is signed "Rolex Oyster Cosmograph" instead of "Rolex Cosmograph Oyster", a direct reference to the screw down Oyster pushers. The most dazzling aspect, is of course, the dial. A creamy lemon shade, its a sharp contrast with the ivory dials that were fitted to stainless steel Paul Newmans. The dial shimmers in way that can only be described as sublime, catching the sun rays and enhancing the "stepped" nature of the dial.
With two confirmed examples, the market was finally satiated, having recognized the "yellow gold Paul Newman with screw down pushers". Scholars and collectors now acknowledge its existence, and the model is considered the most important reference 6263 "Paul Newman" to exist, its rarity unparalleled even in comparison to the Oyster Sotto —the legendary reference 6263 with a black dial and "Rolex Cosmograph Oyster" signature. Consequently, the present watch marks the third known and correct example to ever appear in the public eye. With serial number 2,330,529, it is among the very earliest 6263s to be produced. It is only 127 numbers apart from one confirmed example, and 30 some numbers away from the other, further enhancing its legitimacy. Given Rolex's high production numbers, these three watches could have very well been cased on the same day. Being one of the most important Paul Newman Daytonas to appear on the market in recent years, its beauty is completely palpable. The case is also preserved in excellent condition, with sharp finishes to the top of the lugs and gold marks beneath the lugs —which is correct for early examples— and MK 1 "millerighe" pushers. The case back is stamped 6239, which is correct, as Rolex used the case backs of previous models in the production of the earliest 6263s. This feature is can also seen on some of the case backs of "Oyster Sottos".
2. Patek Philippe Worldtimer ref. 2523 Tiffany & Co. Dial
Our second favorite is lot 183 with an estimate of CHF 900,000-1,800,000 Swiss Francs. This Patek Philippe Worldtimer ref. 2523 features dual crown, 24-hour indication and Tiffany & Co. marked dial. Legend has it that it was in 1876 after missing a train in Ireland that Scottish railroad engineer Stanford Fleming began to look for a way to standardize time. Fleming’s persistence paid off and his idea was finally adopted in 1884 in Washington, when the 25 nations taking part in the International Meridian Conference decided that the prime meridian of 0° longitude would pass through Greenwich, England. In 1880, Fleming commissioned a watch manufacturer in London to construct a unique pocket watch that would accurately reflect his proposal, and so was born the “Cosmic Time” pocket watch. The times for each of the 24 “zones” in Fleming’s system were depicted on a single dial, making his “Cosmic Time” pocket watch the world’s first world time watch as we know it.
However, surprisingly the world time watch seemed of little interest to watchmakers until genius watchmaker Louis Cottier designed a pocket watch movement featuring a local time with hour and minute hands at center, linked to a rotating 24-hour ring, and bordered by a fixed outer dial ring with the names of different cities inscribed on it. The city of choice (local time zone) was placed at the 12 o'clock position with the hours/minutes hand set at local time, the watch would then display the correct time in both hours and minutes, night and day, for every time zone in the world simultaneously, all the while allowing easy and accurate reading of local time, and all on a single dial. Cottier miniaturized his invention in the late 1930s which first appeared in the Patek Philippe reference 1415, a single crown model with its bezel engraved with cities to be switched manually.
Launched in 1953, the reference 2523 featured a new two-crown system, one for winding the watch and the other at 9 o’clock controlling the city disc. Two versions were available, reference 2523 with larger lugs sitting above the bezel and reference 2523/1 with a slightly larger diameter and thinner lugs no longer sitting above the bezel. When introduced to the market this new double crown world time was not a commercial success resulting in very few pieces manufactured. According to research, nine reference 2523/1 are known across all case metals and dial combinations. However, the present lot is the only one known with the prestigious Tiffany & Co. signature on its dial.
Patek Philippe stopped the production of world time watches in the late 1960s with the passing away of Louis Cottier and this complication came back into the Patek Philippe catalogue only in 2000 with the reference 5110. The present lot stands out thanks to its impressive condition. The distinctive facetted lugs, the case with its polished and brushed surfaces is in unmolested condition and the superb dial proudly displays the Tiffany & Co. signature making the present lot even more desirable and unique. The 41 cities inscribed on the dial are an invitation to travel and to quote Baudelaire “all is order, naught amiss: Comfort and beauty, calm and bliss”. Vintage Patek Philippe world time watches are rare but finding one in such superb condition with double signed dial is close to impossible and would easily be the crown jewel of any collection.
3. Rolex Triple Calendar with Moonphase ref. 6062 in Stainless Steel
Few watches can cause fervor and excitement among collectors like lot 172. A mythical Rolex Triple Calendar with Moonphase reference 6062 is one of the most sublime triple calendar wristwatches in the world. Rolex has only ever produced two references that feature a triple calendar complication with moon phases. While the present watch, reference 6062 features a screw down Oyster case back, its sibling reference 8171 is fitted with a snap-on case back.
Originally launched at the Basel fair in 1950, reference 6062 was the first automatic wristwatch with date and moonphases that was housed in a waterproof case. Cased in stainless steel, yellow gold and pink gold, the model was fitted with a number of dial variations. Among the most exclusive and desirable versions are ones cased in stainless steel, with no more than two dozen examples having survived in different conditions, surfacing on the market thus far. Lot 172 is without a doubt, the most impressive stainless steel reference 6062 to appear in the public space in recent years, it presents an opportunity to satiate even the most demanding of collectors and watch scholars. Featuring Arabic numerals at 3 and 9 o'clock, it features a lacquered silvered finish in the main portion of the dial, along with a ivory grené outer ring, providing great contrast and depth to the watch.
The angled date and day apertures demonstrate the dial's originality, along with the sharp track where the moonphase aperture meets the rim of the subsidiary dial. The luminous material is placed exactly where it should be —precisely outside the silver-colored faceted relief hour markers and next to the Arabic numerals—, reflecting Rolex's extremely stringent standards in quality.
The outer date ring, too, is correct. The printing displays an inky blue hue which one would expect on an original example. The font is correct, with characteristic "open 6 and 9s". Considering the watch is over sixty years of age, it is remarkable that the dial has not been spotted or tarnished. This example remains free of noticeable imperfections in part to its waterproof Oyster case that still bears "Modele Depose" and "Registered Design" on the case back, interspersed with a curved rectangular design.
This dial, coupled with a stainless steel case, makers for a particularly impressive combination, really embodying the characteristics of a most classic iteration of reference 6062 cased in stainless steel. During the period, stainless steel wristwatches were often bought for everyday wear. The fact is even more pertinent as stainless steel examples retailed for much less than their yellow gold counterparts, hence at the time, considered not as "valuable". Consequently, many surviving examples are not preserved in their original form, and heavily polished or corroded due to their function as a "tool watch". Barely a handful today exist is original condition, and often break world records when they do appear on the market.
4. Gold Rolex Daytona Paul Newman ref. 6241 with Tiffany & Co. Dial a.k.a 'John Player Special'
Lot 92 with an estimate of CHF 400,000-800,000 Swiss Francs is another top rare watch in this upcoming Phillips Watches auction and possible the only one known to exist of its kind. This 14k yellow gold Rolex Daytona Paul Newman ref. 6241 with Tiffany & Co. marked dial is a highly important example of the reference 6241 nicknamed "John Player Special" due to its color combination. Its most defining feature is without a doubt, the coveted Tiffany & Co. signature on the dial. This watch is the only known and correct "John Player Special Paul Newman" retailed by Tiffany & Co., which is absolutely correct as scholarship suggests that American imported Rolex watches were cased in 14k yellow gold. Furthermore, Tiffany's signature is most notably stamped significantly lower than the Rolex Cosmograph text, emphasizing the retailer's importance.
Its freshness and beauty places the watch among the most important and valuable reference 6241s to ever grace the market. Only a handful of yellow gold reference 6241s with "John Player Special" dials are known today, and to discover one with the retailer's signature is nothing short of spectacular. Nicknamed "John Player Special", the present watch is an exceedingly rare variant of the “Paul Newman” model. The origin of the name dates back to 1972, when John Player & Sons sponsored the Lotus Formula One team, which emblazoned the cigarette maker’s logo on its cars. Clad in black and gold livery to match John Player & Sons’ corporate colors, the Lotus automobile became an instant hit and icon. Today, the automobile is considered amongst the most attractive and elegant race cars ever designed.
Donning the same colors as the Formula One car, the "John Player Special Paul Newman" shares its name with the racing vehicle. While the watch was conceived some years before the car and has no relation to the sporting event, the similarities between the two are absolutely uncanny, from the black and gold graphics, to the intricate trim and details. The dial itself is preserved in astounding condition. Free of imperfections, it features round and complete luminous dots that are consistent in color, even when viewed under the telling rays of a black ultraviolet light. The hands furthermore match the numerals, and both display warm yellow patina. The case, too, is preserved in excellent condition with a very sharp 14K hallmark and gold marks beneath the lugs. Most striking are the numbers scratched beneath the lugs, which scholarship suggests are an internal code for Tiffany, providing another seal of confidence for collectors and scholars.
To add another element of surprise and delight, the present watch is prominently illustrated in Ultimate Rolex Daytona by Pucci Papaleo on page 64. Its image adorns one third of the page, proudly displaying the details of the dial, along with details of the case, all for the viewer's pleasure. Reference 6241 was produced from 1966 and 1969, which was a relatively short production period. In fact, it is among the rarest Daytona references ever produced. Research suggests that less than 300 examples were cased in 18k yellow gold, with even fewer cased in 14K yellow gold. From those, a mere fraction were fitted with Paul Newman dials. Consequently, the freshness, "correct" tells and rarity of the present watch renders it one of the most exciting, astonishing and beautiful examples of reference 6241 to ever appear in the public eye.
5. Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph ref. 2499 'Second Series' Tiffany & Co. Dial
Last but not least, the highlight of the Phillips Watches Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE is lot 38, the Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Chronograph ref. 2499 with an estimate of CHF 1,000,000-2,000,000 Swiss Francs. To put things in perspective, last year a stainless steel Patek Philippe reference 1518 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph sold for $11 million USD at the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction FOUR —all details here. Well, the Patek Philippe reference 2499 is almost as important as reference 1518 as it replaced the latter in 1951 and was made for 34 years until 1985. A total of 349 pieces were made in four series, making this a highly exclusive reference in the company’s history. As a reference, the last Patek Philippe reference 2499 'First Series' sold at auction, brought CHF 1,685,000 Swiss Francs—including Buyer's premium—, at the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction THREE —all details here.
Here's how to differentiate the four different series from one another. First series: Square chronograph buttons, applied Arabic numerals and tachometer scale. Second series: Round chronograph buttons, either applied baton or applied Arabic numerals and tachometer scale, of which the present lot is an example. Third series: Round chronograph buttons, applied baton numerals and outer seconds divisions. Fourth series: Round chronograph buttons, applied baton numerals, outer seconds divisions and sapphire crystal. Interestingly, Patek Philippe chose Vichet to make the case on the brand new reference 2499, but then, shortly after, switched to Wenger. The Vichet cases are known to have more pronounced and elongated lugs than those produced by Wenger. Also, the early Vichet cases have flat domed case backs, resulting in the watches resting on their four lugs when put flat on a table, like a contemporary work of art.
Additionally, only two reference 2499 second series with Tiffany & Co. signature are known to exist, one with Arabic numerals —sold by Phillips, De Pury & Luxembourg on May 13, 2002 which has remained ever since in an important private collection— and the other, the present lot, with baton indexes, making this timepiece even more collectable. The dials of the two reference 2499 second series with Tiffany & Co. signature are quite different. The model with the Arabic numerals features the Tiffany & Co. signature above the day and month windows with the brand name printed below said windows. Furthermore, the moonphase display is circled and there is no “Swiss” indication. With the present lot, other than the baton indexes, the Tiffany & Co. signature is printed right beneath the moonphase display which is not circled. Two gold “pearls” are placed at the 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock positions and the dial further has “Swiss” printed under the retailer’s signature. These elements lead us to believe that the dial may well have been a special order. Lastly, the watch features the magnification window for the day and month apertures at 12 o'clock.
The period correct heavy weaved yellow gold bracelet is signed Tiffany &Co. on the clasp and furthermore, the balance bridge is stamped ‘HOX’, indicating that the watch was destined for the American market. There are collectible wristwatches, then there are watches woven from the fabric of dreams, and the present Patek Philippe reference 2499 is of the latter.
The large 37.5mm case is of superb quality with incredibly strong definition to the lugs and the hallmarks on the lugs remain crisp. The dial will make any collector’s heart beat faster, with a harmonious cream glow and its strong, perfectly preserved raised, hard enamel print. The last reference 2499 second series bearing the Tiffany & Co. signature to appear on the market was sold in 2002. The present lot last appeared on the international auction market in 1991 and has been part of an important private collection for over 25 years. Consequently, these models are not only uber-rare, but appear on the international market only every decade or so confirming their ultra-collectible status. It is quite possible that once the present lot sells, at least another decade will go by before another example is seen at auction. Not only does the present timepiece merge mechanical complexity with elegance and sophistication, but its extreme rarity, prestigious Tiffany & Co. signature and pristine condition will make it without any doubt, a trophy for the world’s most discerning collector.
Now, let's just wait and see what the results will be in less than two weeks. This for sure will be another record-breaking auction by Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo at the Hotel La Réserve in Geneva, Switzerland on May 13th and 14th, 2017.
For more info on Phillips Watches and the rest of the lots click here.