Vintage & Auctions

Five Curiosities We’ll Have Our Eyes On At Sotheby’s Geneva Auction

As the last major watch auction of 2018, collectors still have an excellent opportunity to acquire some choice pieces. Here are our favorite non-Rolex and Patek pieces from the sale.

By Josh Shanks

Led by Sam Hines, Sotheby’s watch department has undergone somewhat of a renaissance over the last year. As a bidder in last year’s auction, I can sense even in the span of a year the mood and energy at Sotheby’s has changed drastically. With a fresh team, improved outreach, social media embrace, and some incredible sourcing, Sotheby’s Nov 13th Geneva auction is one to keep your eyes on.

Our Picks From Sotheby’s Important Watches – Fall Auction

We approached this list differently than our other auction selections. While there are plenty of amazing Patek Philippe and Rolex references coming to auction at Sotheby’s (including a spectacular “Pulsometer Daytona” which may fetch up to a million dollars), we sought to diverge from the “hype” pieces and focus on lots that many collectors may overlook while skimming the catalog.

Before Abercrombie & Fitch outfitted the nation’s millennials with trendy outerwear, they were a well-regarded upscale New York City-based sporting goods merchant. This purpose-built HEUER Seafarer with tide indicator is an excellent example from Abercrombie's glory days (with this particular reference being from 1968). While Abercrombie branded timepieces aren’t rare by any means, we’ve seen values skyrocket over the last five years. Case in point, this Seafarer and its dial layout may be the most desirable of them all. With an estimate of 10,000 CHF – 15,000 CHF let’s see if this lot can further raise the “tide” of vintage HEUER.

In 1881, When Kintarō Hattori (Founder Of Seiko) opened his watch repair shop in the Ginza district of Tokyo, many doubted the sustainability of the venture. However, within a few years, Hattori was producing clocks and wrist watches under the name ‘Seikosha.’ This effort established Hattori’s firm as a preeminent Japanese watchmaker. While many of us know Seiko, their Seikosha past is quite rich. Most of the watches produced by Seikosha were accessibly priced pocket watches and the occasional wristwatch.

Like many companies during World War II, Seikosha produced watches for the war effort. This example was created for the Japanese Air Force. What makes this lot special is the fact that it's wholly intact. Being that Japan relied heavily upon Kamikaze pilots during the war, for obvious reasons, most watches were lost soon after issue. Sized at a gigantic (for the period) 48mm, this stainless-steel relic sports a sturdy onion crown along with radium markers. An excellent pickup for any history buff.

The very next lot in the catalog also intrigued me. The Polerouter is another watch which has seen substantial gains over the past few years. The popularity of these models has been buoyed by stratospheric pricing being commanded by the ‘Nina' and ‘Evil Nina' Universal Geneve Compax chronographs. The Polerouter has always safely been the “next best thing” however, this lot tells a story not many Polerouters can. Initially issued in 1954 for SAS (Scandinavian Airlines Systems) pilots for their successful completion of Copenhagen to Los Angeles flights. This bumper winding watch was likely delivered to one of the first pilots to land at LA on November 15, 1954. The 10,000 – 15,000 CHF estimate is a bit ambitious but relative to the complete absence of similar models on the market. Perhaps we could be in for a surprise.

Peculiar Cartier watches have always been an interest of mine. But this one may take the cake. This 43 x 34mm white gold wristwatch is deceptively different that anything Cartier has produced in the last century. While a mono-pusher chronograph is a very respectable complication, a movement designed by a François-Paul Journe led a consortium of Vianney Halter and Denis Flageollet is one for the history books. Made circa 2000, this peculiar little Cartier proceeded the iconic works of Journe and Halter while elevating the stature of Cartier’s watchmaking to the stratosphere. Sadly, the word is out on this piece, and with increasing exposure, expect this model to fetch a significant amount at auction.

One of the favorite pieces I’ve ever acquired at auction was a two-tone Royal Oak, so its only fitting that I find this piece interesting. Made circa 1991, this 36mm Royal Oak is primarily cased in tantalum with pink gold accents. At the time, Audemars Piguet was fully enveloped in the quartz crisis, and a large portion of their production was committed to quartz pieces. So it's fitting that this mechanical gem is coming to auction. At an estimate of 7,000 - 12,000 CHF, the lucky owner should get a lot of value while enjoying wearability not seen in A series models which have commanded six-figure prices.

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