Vintage & Auctions

The Independent Watches We'll Have Our Eyes On At Phillips Geneva Auction NINE

In the span of just a few short years, Phillips has risen to become one of the world's most important auction houses. Renowned for their sharp choices in art and watchmaking. This year, Phillips is offering Independent watchmakers a spot of honor at the Geneva Auction NINE held May 11th and 12th at Geneva's La Réserve.

By Benjamin Teisseire

The rising appeal of independent watchmakers is undeniable. Independent watches regularly come up at auction, proof that their work is more and more appreciated – both horologically or artistically. Phillips understood this allure a long time ago. Associate Director of Phillips, Alexander Ghotbi, has been key for taking this direction early: after all, he has always been an ardent promoter of independent watchmaking.

For the third consecutive cycle, Phillips has selected some of the most emblematic and creative watchmakers to be represented in Geneva Auction NINE. The ones that instill a new impetus within fine watchmaking. The ones which collectors go wild for. They embody the sheer notion of independence: total freedom of creation, far away from all the bureaucracy of watchmaking marketing. Let's take a tour of all the masterpieces up for grabs this weekend at the Independent's Atelier of Phillips.

The inevitable

One name is inseparable from the independent watchmaker concept itself: George Daniels. The self-taught English master watchmaker from the Isle of Man was renowned for creating his timekeepers entirely by hand – cases and dials included. The inventor of the co-axial escapement, his watches are rare and extremely sought after. For Geneva Auction NINE, Phillips is offering two exceptional references.

THE Georges Daniels Grand Complication pocket watch in yellow gold is lot N°34. This unique piece boasts a flurry of complications: instantaneous perpetual calendar with retrograde date, co-axial tourbillon, moon phases, minute repeater, equation of time, power reserve, and thermometer! A true masterpiece charged with history and emotions. It will probably reach heights unheard of. The second piece is the Anniversary Watch from Georges Daniels (Lot N°32). A synthesis of the sleek design of the mythical genius. There will surely be harsh battles to acquire either of these as they represent entire blocks of independent watchmaking history.

Following the footsteps of the English master comes an auction regular: François-Paul Journe. The gentlemen who has been spearheading the international influence of independent watchmaking for over 30 years. He creates, he invents, and he pays homage to the great 18th century watchmakers. His timepieces are extremely sought-after by all true collectors.

Two chances are offered to them this weekend in Geneva. A platinum Chronometer à Résonance (Lot N°33) with his two time zones on two symmetrical dials with two escapements that enter in resonance, using the principles of the famous watchmaker Aristide Janvier who inspired François-Paul. The beauty of the gold movement is simply dazzling. Lot N°193, the Octa Lune (Moon) 38mm, also in platinum, will grant the possibility to acquire the first automatic caliber of the French master. To be seized!

Another great name of independent watchmaking design will resonate with lots N°35, 115 and 116: Gérard Genta. Timepieces adorned with his name are rare. These atypical timekeepers – Grande et Petite Sonnerie, Octo Biretro et Octo Mosaic – will surely arouse the interest of many collectors.

The moderns

After the pioneers come to a few names who also proudly represent this niche fine watchmaking. Maximilien Büsser and MB&F will be represented with two superb examples of his work. Lot N°140 and 142, respectively a Legacy Machine 1 in platinum with a sumptuous sky-blue dial and an HM6 Space Pirate in rose gold. Classicism and extreme creativity. MB&F’s world in all its splendor will titillate collectors’ appetite for sure.

A gorgeous white gold Vingt-8 GMT – with its dial engraved by the hands of the master Kari Voutilainen himself – and its ‘cornes de vaches’ lugs will stir envy with lot N°141. Likewise, the Laurent Ferrier Galet Surprise Tourbillon will unveil his inner heart paved with baguette diamonds in lot N°197. Finally, Ludovic Ballouard’s ingenuity will be revealed in lot N°195 Upside Down and a scintillating aventurine dial.

The rising stars

True to their will to promote independent watchmakers’ geniuses of yesterday, today and tomorrow, Phillips dedicates a special show for collectors to discover 13 new names. The stars of tomorrow’s auctions. The lucky participants will see unique timekeepers of Rexhep Rexhepi’s Akrivia, like the AK-06 and the Chronomètre Contemporain.

The young watchmaker sees its fame grow steadily among watch collectors and enthusiasts as he is more and more compared to another icon, Philippe Dufour. The worthy heir of Georges Daniels, Roger Smith from the Isle of Man is sure to be present, as well as the incomparable creations if Urwerk. Last but not least, Derek Pratt – probably the most unknown independent – will be showcasing his creations in collaboration with Urban Jurgensen, another glorious name from the past.

This weekend, we'll have our eyes on Geneva Auction NINE. Where all of the greatest pleasure of watch lovers and keen collectors will come to life!

(Photography by Pierre Vogel)

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