Live Pics & Results: Our Favorite Items at the “Precious Blues” Auction by Ineichen
On Saturday, April 23rd, Zurich-based auction house Ineichen Auctioneers hosted the “Precious Blues” auction, its latest themed auction devoted to the most complicated color to synthesize in the history of art: blue.
After the noteworthy themed auctions “Shades of Grey,” “Alchemy of Gold,” and “La Vie en Rose,” this past Saturday, April 23rd, Ineichen Auctioneers in Zurich hosted its “Precious Blues” auction.
Once again, utilizing its cleaver concept of a themed catalog, Ineichen Auctioneers collected an eclectic selection of notable watches that pay tribute to the color blue. By bringing together more classic pieces from the likes of Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, or Omega with more contemporary ones from brands like De Bethune, Greubel Forsey, or Richard Mille under the auspices of one auction, Ineichen’s “Precious Blues” 50-lot catalog covered the entire color spectrum of blue.
Prior to the auction, Watchonista had the chance to visit Ineichen Auctioneers in Zurich to admire and take some photos. But as the selection was extremely broad, we focused on what we were the most amazed to discover and shot only our favorite lots.
One quick side note: All hammer prices exclude the premium.
De Bethune: The King of Blue
Since its founding almost a little over 20 years ago to the day (April 22, 2002), De Bethune’s use of flame blue hands has been a classic detail the brand uses to pay tribute to 18th-century watchmakers. (Fun Fact: Since stainless steel didn’t exist back then, treating watch hands with heat stabilized the ordinary steel. However, it also gave the hands an intense blue color.) As a result, blue quickly became the young brand’s signature color.
And at this weekend’s auction, lot 27, a De Bethune DB25 Starry Sky 40mm, hammered for CHF 100,000 – a new record for a two-handed De Bethune. And with its star-studded, mirror-polished dial made of blued titanium and spherical moonphase indicator with both palladium and flame-blued steel at 12 o’clock, the DB25 Stary Sky is a pure ode to blue.
However, one of the rarest tributes to the color featured in Ineichen’s “Precious Blues” auction was, without any doubt, lot 22 – the radical De Bethune DB28 Kind of Blue – which hammered for CHF 130,000. Featuring a case made entirely of blued titanium along with all blue components (if they were able to support the process without being compromised), the DB28 Kind of Blue deserves its name. Plus, since 2016, only 17 pieces have been made.
Meanwhile, lot 20 – a De Bethune DB28GS that sold for CHF 82,000 also had a case made of blued titanium and fully blued visible parts. But, with its bright blue rubber strap, its 10atm water resistance and its hand-smoothed grade 5 titanium minute ring with blue relief Arabic numerals, this piece makes sure to be a sportier iteration of the DB28.
Another fantastic specialty of the brand (that is also extremely rare) is the jump-hour display of lot 31, a DB28 Digitale, which sold for CHF 95,000.
It may surprise you, but the majority of lots from the 50-piece “Precious Blues” auction catalog were from independent watchmakers. From pieces dating back to the 1990s (when contemporary watchmaking began its rebirth) to recent models, Ineichen found several contemporary classics that fit its cerulean theme.
For example, lot 29’s Daniel Roth Perpetual Calendar Unique Piece perfectly encapsulates the originality and unicity of the “Precious Blues” auction selection.
The lot’s uncommon sapphire-set bezel and lugs and its platinum double ellipse-shaped case make this Daniel Roth almost like a precious blue stone in and of itself. Moreover, the unusual dial layout, typical of Daniel Roth perpetual calendars, includes a skeletonized face. This piece sold for CHF 87,000.
Representing the most recent independents model in the auction is the H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Cylindrical Tourbillon of lot 19, which hammered in at CHF 70,000.
Released in 2020, this limited edition piece, made in collaboration with MB&F, featured a stunning flying tourbillon and a tilted and transparent hour/minute sub-dial atop a sunburst gradient “ice-blue fumé” dial and all under a high-domed sapphire crystal.
Next, lot 47 – an F.P.Journe Chronomètre Bleu auctioned for CHF 82,000 – demonstrated that despite a slight downturn in the market, this piece still fascinates collectors the world over.
Among this fantastic catalog was a great selection of Ulysse Nardin Freaks. However, lot 18 was a particular favorite with its attractive black dial, external blue framed disc, and Arabic indices. Auctioned for CHF 39,000, this hammer price shows the community’s growing interest in the disruptive icon the Freak is becoming.
Finally, the Konstantin Chaykin Genius Temporis Prototype of lot 32 needs to be highlighted. Sold almost three times its estimated value for a final hammer price of CHF 67,000, this piece garnered nine bids, all of which came from different bidders, proving that even a prototype from a lesser known independent can generate intense interest when done well.
Among the more classic brands, the selection was also remarkable.
The “Precious Blues” auction catalog started off strong with lot 1: the timelessly elegant Patek Philippe Ellipse with a Gentleman Set (which included cufflinks and a tie clip).
Auctioned for the surprisingly low sum of CHF 15,000, there is no doubt that this Golden Ellipse “Jumbo” Ref. 3738/100J-012 was undervalued by a market that will probably soon understand how fundamental this piece is to such a prestigious brand.
Another icon from the past, lot 2 was a yellow gold Vacheron Constantin Overseas that featured a superb blue-sigma dial with applied golden markers. Despite its relatively small 36mm diameter, the watch’s overall proportions work perfectly. This lot sold for CHF 26,000.
The 950 platinum encased Audemars Piguet of lot 39 – a Quantieme Perpetual Jules Audemars produced only between 2008 and 2009 – once again proved the coherence of the “Precious Blues” catalog. Plus, with its dark blue dial and status of being number 41 of a 90-piece production run, lot 39 sold for CHF 47,000.
Then there is the 2021 Vacheron Constantin Overseas of lot 7, featuring a 40mm stainless steel case. Sold for CHF 38,000, this Overseas III Self-winding Reference 4500V has the in-house calibre 5100/1, and it’s no surprise why this model is more and more in demand by collectors. Lastly, when you consider its popular 1970s-era design and distinct identity, the Overseas is poised to feature prominently in future auctions.
Finally, lot 40 was an extremely rare (and highly sought after) Patek Philippe 5712 Nautilus double-signed by Tiffany & Co. Unsurprisingly, this lot carried the highest price tag, eventually hammering for CHF 290,000.
Between the masterfully curated “Precious Blues” catalog and the resulting auction results, Ineichen Auctioneers continued to demonstrate how its themed and limited-lot auctions fill a niche with bidders by including more independent, even obscure, brands than big name ones.
For more information about the lots and results of the “Precious Blues” auction, visit the Ineichen Auctioneers website.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)