The inaugural watch auctions held by Phillips, in association with Aurel Bacs and Livia Russo, on May 9th and 10th, 2015 realized a combined total of $29,649,363 Swiss Francs —$31,834,734 USD— selling 97% by lot. The auctions sold four watches for over $1 million and established multiple records including for any stainless steel wristwatch, for any Rolex sold at auction and for any Rolex Day-Date. The top lot was an extremely rare Patek Philippe single button doctor’s chronograph in stainless steel with a superbly aged off-white silvered dial, highlighted by a pulsations scale and a sector design. At the auction on Sunday May 10th, after 21 minutes of bidding between clients from 4 continents, it eventually sold to an anonymous bidder on the telephone for $4,645,000 Swiss Francs —$4,987,383 USD— more than doubling its low estimate of $1-2 million Swiss Francs and setting a new record price for any stainless steel wristwatch sold at auction.
One of only two examples of this model, both of which were made for a retailer in South America, the other is a highlight of the Patek Philippe Museum. In Aurel Bacs words: “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, eventually selling for $4.6 million Swiss Francs and setting a record for any stainless steel wristwatch sold at auction. Now we look forward with great excitement to the auctions in Geneva in November, including the ‘Only Watch’ auction which we are honoured to hold for the first time, and our inaugural Hong Kong sale which will take place on 1 December”. Edward Dolman, CEO and Chairman of Phillips: “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. As we continue to invest in this area, we are thrilled to welcome Myriam Christinaz to Phillips as Managing Director in Geneva where she will lead the team going forwards and oversee exciting developments including the forthcoming opening of our dedicated space in central Geneva, and also to confirm the date of our inaugural watch auction in Hong Kong which will take place on 1 December.”
Meanwhile, the Glamorous Day-Date auction that took place the night before on May 9th, dedicated to Rolex’s most prestigious model, offered 60 of the rarest examples, including unique models and watches with royal provenance. In a packed saleroom of over 300 people, every lot sold for a total of $6,179,400 Swiss Francs —$6,634,800 USD. The highest price was paid for ‘Big Kahuna’, one of only two known Rolex ref. 6612 references made in platinum. It smashed the world record price for any Rolex Day-Date sold at auction realizing $473,000 Swiss Francs —$507,865 USD—, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate of $100,000 to 200,000 Swiss Francs.
Additionally, multiple records were established for individual references and models by the Geneva Watch Auction:ONE. This auction dedicated to watches of the highest quality, including exceptionally rare examples and timepieces with fascinating provenance, realized a total of $23,469,963 Swiss Francs —$25,199,934 USD—, selling 96% by lot. The highest price was paid for the exceptionally rare 1927 Patek Philippe single button chronograph ref. 130 setting a new record price for a stainless steel wristwatch sold at auction. Further highlights included a highly important and very rare Patek Philippe pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph ref. 1518 with pink dial, moon phases and heavy Gay Frères bracelet from 1948 which sold for $1,445,000 Swiss Francs —$1,551,511 USD.
Another record setting sale was the most renowned of four existing examples of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ‘Albino’ which was formerly a highlight in the personal collection of Eric Clapton, and which sold for $1,325,000 Swiss Francs —$1,422,666 USD. This watch set a record for any Rolex sold at auction.
Lastly, an exceptionally rare Rolex ref. 6062 model featuring a triple calendar with phases of the moon with Arabic numerals at 3 and 9 o'clock realized $1,001,000 Swiss Francs —$1,074,784 USD. This watch set a record for the highest amount ever paid for a ref. 6062 at auction.
As the only international auction house to concentrate exclusively on contemporary art and design, Phillips has established a commanding position in the sale of Contemporary Art, Design, Photographs, Editions and Jewelry. Through the passionate dedication of its team of global specialists, the company has garnered an unparalleled wealth of knowledge of emerging market trends. Phillips was founded in London in 1796 by Harry Phillips, formerly senior clerk to James Christie. During his first year of business, Phillips conducted twelve successful auctions and soon the business was holding sales for some of the most distinguished collectors of the day including Marie Antoinette, Beau Brummel and Napoleon Bonaparte. To win business, Phillips combined business acumen with a flair for showmanship, introducing new ways to promote his sales such as elaborate evening receptions before auctions —an essential part of the auction business today. Phillips quickly gained the confidence of British society and remains the only auction house ever to have held a sale inside Buckingham Palace.
When he died in 1840, Harry Phillips's son, William Augustus, inherited a strong and successful legacy and business. In 1879, William changed the firm's name to Messrs Phillips & Son. In 1882, William brought his son-in-law, Frederick Neale into the business, the company was renamed again as Phillips, Son & Neale. This name remained through the 1970s, when the company became Phillips. The company had a reputation for strong regional salerooms dotted throughout The British Isles, selling everything from furniture to art and estates.
In 1999, the company was bought by Bernard Arnault, the chairman of the French luxury-goods brand, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey —LVMH. Shortly after the transaction, Mr. Arnault merged with the esteemed private art dealers, Simon de Pury and Daniela Luxembourg who were operating the Impressionist and Modern art gallery, de Pury & Luxembourg in Zurich. The new team at Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg with headquarters on East 57th street held sales in Impressionist, American and Modern works of art in addition to watches and jewelry and design. In 2002, de Pury & Luxembourg took majority control of the company and in 2003, Simon de Pury moved the headquarters to the Meatpacking District in Chelsea, which at the time was just beginning to sprout as an international art district, with a new remit to focus solely on the sale of the best works of Contemporary Art, Design, Jewelry, Photography, and Editions. In October 2008, Mercury Group, the luxury retail company, acquired majority share of Phillips de Pury & Company to further enable the company’s expansion, including the opening of its flagship galleries at 450 Park Avenue.
Mercury Group completed its acquisition of Simon de Pury’s remaining interest in the firm in January 2013 and the company reverted back to its original name of Phillips. In February 2013, Phillips moved its Chelsea operations to 450 Park Avenue and expanded its premier New York headquarters with significant additional gallery and office space. October 2014 heralded the opening of a new state-of-the-art London headquarters at 30 Berkeley Square.
Phillips conducts auctions in New York, London and Geneva and has representative offices throughout Europe and in the United States. As of November 6, 2014 Phillips announced the creation of a watch department to exclusively focus on the market of fine collectors of watches. The department, based in Geneva, will partner with the firm of Aurel Bacs and Livia Russo. Bacs & Russo, specialising in Fine Collectors Watches, has been established in response to the ever-increasing need for collectors around the world to easily access scholarship, guidance and quality across the board. The Phillips Watch Department is pleased to bring together many prominent figures from the watch industry, including Nathalie Monbaron in Geneva, who will be supported by Virginie Liatard. Further, Phillips is proud to announce the appointment of Paul Boutros as its strategy consultant and its main representative in Phillips New York office. In the following seasons, the department plans to expand its sales calendar around the world, organizing sales in flagship premises in London, New York and soon in Hong Kong.
About the Phillips Watches Team
Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant — With 20 years of professional experience in the field of Collectors' Watches, Aurel Bacs is an internationally recognized leading specialist in the watch market. As an auctioneer and watch specialist, Mr. Bacs has worked at various auction houses since 1995, most recently as the Head of the International Watch department at Christie’s. During his tenure, he oversaw an unprecedented growth for the firm, raising the department's annual turnover from US $8 million to over US $130 million. Today, Mr. Bacs is an independent advisor to private collectors, manufacturers and museums in the field of high-end collectors’ watches and co-founder of Bacs & Russo SA. In this capacity, he is partnering with Phillips as exclusive consultant for their newly created watch department.
Livia Russo, Senior Consultant — Italian-born Livia Russo started her career in the art world in 1994 when she joined Christie’s in their Milano branch. Over the course of the next seven years, Livia gained a strong knowledge and passion for vintage watches and consequently moved to Geneva in 2001, holding various key positions at different international auction houses. In 2003 she joined the Christie's watch team where she was instrumental in the development of the department's strategies and acted as one of the key business getters until the end of 2013. Livia Russo is co-founder of Bacs & Russo SA.
Paul Boutros, International Strategy Advisor — A passionate collector of vintage and modern wristwatches for nearly three decades, Paul previously held Design Engineering, Product Development, Program Management, and Strategic Marketing and Business Development leadership positions in advanced technology firms. Paul has hosted talks for luxury brands on the art of watch collecting and the link between the history of timekeeping to today’s modern watches. In 2005, he founded the Watch Enthusiasts of New York, or WENY Club. Paul Boutros is a timepiece strategy consultant to luxury brands through his firm, Boutros Group.
Nathalie Monbaron, Business Development Director — Nathalie has worked for 20 years in the Art and Luxury Industries and for the last decade at Christie's Watch Department. Most recently Nathalie was Business Development Director, a position she held for four years. Her invaluable involvement and contribution to the growth of the department has enabled Nathalie to acquire a particularly deep knowledge of the auction world and specifically the high-end collector's watch market. She is Historienne de l'Art and holds a Doctorat es Lettres from the University of Geneva.
Virginie Liatard-Roessli, Department Manager — Joins Phillips as Department Manager based in Geneva. Virginie worked in Human Resources for 15 years following her studies in visual arts. After seven years working at a Swiss Watch Manufacturer and subsequently at Christie’s for two years, Virginie has developed a passion for watches and complicated mechanisms.
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