As the year winds down, the watch industry is closing its event calendar week by week, with the latest installment taking place in Geneva this past weekend. The jam-packed time saw auctions presented by Christie’s, Antiquorum, and Phillips, as well as the launch of Re-Luxury, a luxury re-sale focused conference and event which featured WatchBox, Ebay, and Richard Mille, among numerous other participants.
One clear highlight of the weekend was the fifteenth edition of Phillip’s famed Geneva Watch Auction in association with Bacs & Russo. Held from November 5-6, the auction offered a number of the finest collectible vintage and contemporary timepieces, with the carefully curated selection offered insight into various avenues of horological history from the vantage point of different brands, periods, styles, complications, countries, and price points.
Today, we are recapping the coveted event with six horological highlights from the impressive and diverse lot. In addition to the references below, the lot was inclusive of over 40 exceptional timepieces, with models from Omega, Vacheron Constantin, Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, and many others.
George Daniels Spring Case Tourbillon
Positioned as one of the key highlights for the auction, the George Daniels Spring Case Tourbillon did not disappoint in its showing this past weekend. This particular Spring Case Tourbillon was originally made by George Daniels for his own personal use in 1992, with example boasting a double-dial with a spring case that can be popped open in order to reveal the back dial, which displays a calendar and visible tourbillon escapement. A novel display, case design, and the integration of a tourbillon, established the watch as a leading example of George Daniels’ high standard of craftsmanship, making its first debut at auction since it was sold from Daniels’ personal collection in 2005 even more impressive.
The timepiece was estimated to go for “in excess of CHF 1,000,000,” and did just that, selling for CHF 4,083,500.
Zenith Caliber 135 Observatoire Limited Edition with Kari Voutilainen and Phillips Ref. 13.1350.135/35.C100
Earlier this year Zenith released a set of ten pieces of the Caliber 135 Observatoire Limited Edition in platinum with a black-finished sterling silver dial, later teasing this limited edition salmon version at the end of September. As the centerpiece of the watch, the silver dial sports a warm salmon-pink coloring with an elegant guilloché pattern adorning the outer circumference.
The piece unique sports an unusual niobium case, which is a material most commonly used to create components of the movement and rarely the entire case. Measuring 38mm wide and 10.35mm thick, the familiar case silhouette houses the historic Caliber 135-O restored by Kari Voutilainen from its original form dating back to between 1949 and 1962. This Zenith Caliber 135 Observatoire Limited Edition with Kari Voutilainen and Phillips (ref. 13.1350.135/35.C100) was sold for CHF 315,000 with all proceeds being donated to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer research.
Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 Black Dial
Amidst an impressive number of Patek Philippe models included in the lot was the ref. 2499 with a black dial. The reference garnered renown as one of the most iconic watches of the second half of the 20th century when it replaced the perpetual calendar ref. 1518 from the early 1950s. Further, the ref. 2499 introduced pump pushers and a larger case size, measuring in at 37.5mm. Known by collectors as one of the last models produced by Patek Philippe before entering its modern age of watchmaking, this model furthers its rarity with its lush black dial in the middle of a warm yellow-gold case.
Only six versions of the ref. 2499, regardless of series, are known to sport a black dial, with the present example being the only one to appear on the auction market to date. The estimated price for the Patek Philippe ref. 2499 was CHF 400,000-800,000, though the sale closed at CHF 1,179,500.
Rolex Daytona Cosmograph Ref. 6264
The ref. 6264 was one of a trio of Rolex Daytona Cosmograph models in the auction originating from the year 1969. All three of the references include a Paul Newman dial, a feature that is among the most exotic design features in the long history of Rolex watches. Characteristic of the Paul Newman dial, any hash marks on the ref. 6264 feature a small square at one end and the dial numerals are notably art deco-inspired.
The model also fits into a subcategory of Paul Newman Daytona models dubbed the “Lemon” style for its yellow-gold case, yellow gerné dial, black subdials, and white indices. The rarity of gold Paul Newman models following the “Lemon” design code makes this ref. 6264 a true grail by collectors’ standards. The estimated price of the ref. 6242 is CHF 550,000-1,100,000, though it sold for CHF 816,500.
F.P. Journe Resonance
Throughout its fifteen editions of this auction, Phillips has been a proponent of independent watchmaking and offers a selection of rare, hard-to-find creations from a range of incredible artisans. This year was no different, with a highlight from the lot coming from Swiss brand F.P. Journe’s iteration of the brand’s famed Resonance model. The reference showcases F.P. Journe’s competence as the first watchmaker to create a wristwatch that integrates the resonance phenomenon, which relates to the physical transfer of energy through the watch.
The present example features a platinum case measuring 38mm in diameter. The movement is constructed in brass and yellow gold brings color to the main dial. The F.P. Journe Resonance sold for CHF 352,800 in the auction, meeting its estimate of CHF 180,000-360,000.
Vianney Halter La Resonance Prototype
Joining the lineup of independents in the auction was the Vianney Halter La Resonance Prototype. The watch debuted in March of 2022 and is notable for its integration of a clever, yet unconventional double-stacked pair of balances beating in unison. The dial showcases its mechanics with a delicately skeletonized layout with purple skeletonized hands beating atop. Not only is the present example the first Halter Resonances to appear on the market, but it is also the very prototype that was shown to collectors and the press.
Phillips estimated a CHF 100,000-200,000 selling price for the model and it closed for CHF 252,000.
A.Lange & Söhne 1815 Chronograph “Hampton Court Edition” – Charitable Initiative
In this year’s installment of the annual auction, A.Lange & Söhne offered the charitable initiative addition to the lot with a special edition chronograph from the brand’s 1815 collection. The 1815 Chronograph “Hampton Court Edition” was originally crafted for the 2022 Concours of Elegance, an annual event at Hampton Court that brings together a collection of the rarest automobiles from around the world. As such, the unique timepiece is characteristic of the interrelation between motorsports and horology, notably including a tachymeter scale on the peripheral of the dial. On the exterior, the model has a white-gold case while the dial is deep black with sandstone-colored indices and scales.
Proceeds from the sale of the 1815 Chronograph “Hampton Court Edition” will go to The Prince’s Trust, a youth charity founded by the former Prince of Wales, King Charles III. The organization supports young people aged 11 to 30 in developing life skills and preparing for career opportunities. The piece unique had an estimated sale price of CHF 100,000-200,000, though it sold for CHF 1,058,500.
To see the full results from Phillips’ Geneva Watch Auction: XVI, click here.