Top Lots: Ineichen Auctioneer’s Upcoming Geneva Auction Devoted to Independent W
Vintage & Auctions

Top Lots: Ineichen Auctioneer’s Upcoming Geneva Auction Devoted to Independent Watchmakers

From May 9th to 11th, Zürich-based Ineichen Auctioneers will host its first-ever auction in Geneva, with the sale dedicated to exceptional watches made by independent watchmakers and small creative brands. And today, we take a look at some of the eye-catching lots.

By Steven Rogers

With the Spring watch auction season almost upon us once again, those eyeing the calendar of sales in Geneva for May 2023 will spot a new name on the list: Ineichen Auctioneers.

Indeed, the innovative Zurich-based auction house – known for its flexible bidding options, no buyer’s premium policy, and, most importantly, its eye-catching themed auctions – will hold its first-ever sale in Geneva from May 9th to 11th at the Hotel President Wilson. Moreover, having noted the sharp increase in the collector community’s interest in independent watchmakers and small creative brands in the past few years, Ineichen has chosen to shine the spotlight on independent watchmakers and small brands for its Geneva debut.

“We intend to support this trend through our work, in searching for important and attractive timepieces, in making accurate assessments of their prospects, and in researching and providing information that we publish while presenting watches we have selected for auction,” Ineichen said in a recent press release.

Thus, for its May 2023 auction, Ineichen has assembled no fewer than 39 exciting lots, each one made by either an independent watchmaker or a small creative brand. But that’s not all.

An Ode to Independents

Remember when we said that the most important thing Ineichen Auctioneers is known for is its themed auctions? Well, the beauty of these themed sales is their small catalog and, thus, their laser focus. So, rather than becoming lost in a sea of disparate pieces, each lot can be properly highlighted, which allows collectors and investors to fully appreciate these gems in context.

That is why we’re so excited for the “Independents 2023” auction: Ineichen has taken the time to really explain each lot via a micro-website dedicated to the lots of this upcoming auction,

“Watchmaking and, above all, the works of independent watchmakers and small creative brands, needs explaining and a good amount of publicity,” Ineichen explained in the press release for this auction. “Without this, how else can one explain the value and difference between a timepiece produced by an independent watchmaker and an ordinary watch bought in a regular store?”

As a result of this conviction, for its auctioneering ode to independents, Ineichen has put together an impressive line-up of at least 39 watches (although this number may increase a little by the time of the sale), including plenty of rare and unique pieces.

Finally, our last point before we get to our top lots: “Independent” watchmaking is, of course, a broad church, meaning the auction will bring together a diversity of brands, styles, and price points. So, while we will find exceptional pieces by AHCI Academy of Independent Watchmakers members, like Vianney Halter, Andersen Genève, Konstantin Chaykin, and Cyril Brivet-Naudot, with starting bids of under CHF 100,000, there will also be a Richard Mille RM 67-02 from 2022 and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Grande Complication from 2004 with starting bids of CHF 200,000 and CHF 300,000, respectively.

Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at five of our favorite lots from the confirmed catalog of Ineichen’s upcoming “Independents 2023” auction.

Lot 1: A Gérald Genta Tourbillon Sonnerie “Piece Unique”

The auction will begin with a veritable bang. Why? Because Lot No. 1 is this unique Gérald Genta Tourbillon Sonnerie in yellow gold (likely made between 2004 and 2010).

At 41mm in diameter, it features the highly complex hand-wound Calibre GG 31001 movement, packing a grande and petite sonnerie minute repeating complication with Westminster chime. Moreover, the openworked dial is bordered by a filet sauté guilloché motif, while the movement bridges are decorated by a flamboyant (and rare) “fleurisanne” style engraving.

This stunning piece carries a starting bid of CHF 170,000.

Lot 5: An F.P.Journe Reference T30

In 2013, François-Paul Journe marked the 30th anniversary of his first-ever timepiece, a tourbillon pocket watch, by creating a limited-edition wristwatch tribute to it, the reference T30.

With its Calibre 1412 movement – featuring twin barrels, Breguet hairspring, and 60-second tourbillon – the ref. T30 of Lot 5 transposes many elements of Journe’s prototypical pocket watch, though it dispenses with a detent escapement in favor of a lever escapement. Plus, in keeping with Journe’s original creation, the grained silver dial includes blued Breguet hands, Roman numerals, and “chemin de fer” small seconds.

Finally, like the original, the engine-turned 40mm case is in sterling silver and rose gold and opens up at the back in the style of an officer’s watch, allowing for spectacular views of the gilded brass movement.

Number 93 of 99 pieces, this ref. T30 dates from 2014 carries a starting bid of CHF 250,000.

Lot 2: A Voutilainen 28TI Piece Unique

Kari Voutilainen scored a winner among watch collectors in 2019 when he created the Voutilainen 28TI, which saw the Finnish independent maestro flip around his Calibre 28 to put its barrel, balance, and other moving parts on the front of the watch.

This 44mm unique piece 28TI stands out for its rose gold hands, balance bridge, and gilded gears, which all pop out against the darkness of ruthenium-treated bridges. Additionally, by pairing this inverted movement with a lightweight, fully polished titanium case with teardrop lugs, the resulting watch was a much more overt technical offering than we had been used to seeing from the Môtiers-based watchmaker at the time.

Carrying a starting bid of CHF 130,000, this lot has already received several pre-bids.

Lot 32: A Ludovic Ballouard Upside Down Piece Unique

Ludovic Ballouard was making about a dozen watches per year until 2020. Since then, demand for small and creative independent watchmakers, like Ballouard and his ilk, has skyrocketed, resulting in the Geneva-based independent having to more than triple its production to try and meet the ever-growing demand for his creations.

So, if you want to skip the line and beat the waiting times, you could do worse than plump for Lot No. 32 – a unique platinum interpretation of Ballouard’s first timepiece, the Upside Down.

This indie watch icon uses its founder and namesake’s patented jumping-hour mechanism featuring twelve Maltese crosses to drive the rotation of the hour discs, which flip from upside down to right side up for a whimsical display of the time. Meanwhile, the Gibeon meteorite used for the main dial and hour discs helps make this Upside Down a one-of-a-kind.

Lot 32 carries a starting bid of CHF 45,000.

Lot 24: The Urwerk UR-102

Last but not least, Lot 24 is your chance to grab a foundation stone of indie favorite Urwerk: the UR-102.

The UR-101 and UR-102 were introduced in 1997, the same year the brand was founded. However, the idea behind the design of these watches had been born two years earlier as watchmaker Felix Baumgartner and designer Martin Frei sought a stark alternative to complex mechanical watches with cluttered dials and multiple displays and hands.

The minimalistic wandering hour digit runs along the arcing scale to indicate the minutes, embodying Urwerk’s ambition to “make art that tells time.” Completing the effect modernistic effect is the 38mm round “Sputnik” bombé shaped stainless-steel case with eight lugs.

This No. 50 of 50 carries a starting bid of CHF 40,000.

Register to Bid Now

Ineichen’s independent-themed auction will take place at the Hotel President Wilson on Quai Wilson overlooking Lake Geneva, with Tuesday, May 9th, and Wednesday, May 10th, set aside for previewing the lots.

Live bidding in the room, online, or by telephone will kick off at 14:00 CET on Thursday, May 11th. Meanwhile, online pre-bidding is already underway, with several of the lots already garnering plenty of attention.

For more information, please visit the Ineichen Auctioneers website or its microsite dedicated to this mouthwatering sale.

(Images © Ineichen Auctioneers)

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