A Vintage Collector’s Five Favorite Modern Watches From Phillips’ 2021 New York Auction
New York City’s auction slate is pretty packed this week, so choosing my top five modern watch lots at Phillips led to some unexpected choices from a self-professed vintage lover.
This weekend, December 11th and 12th, Phillips is hosting its 2021 New York Watch Auction. The newly remodeled auction house never disappoints, and this sale is no different; from vintage to modern, there is something for every watch lover.
So, when tasked with choosing my top lots from the sale, I took a different approach.
My collecting preferences lean toward vintage pieces, but I decided to try something different and focused on choosing modern watches.
The result? Some of my choices surprised even me.
Lot 101: Roger Smith, Series 1
A modern classic, though an oxymoron, is a watch with all the hallmarks of a future vintage icon (hence why they sparked my interest). So, to start, let’s take a look at this pink gold Roger Smith Series 1, chosen for being a true representation of modern excellence with an ode to historical craftsmanship. This lot definitely had my attention.
The first of its kind, is marked number one. Heavily inspired by the man Smith apprenticed for, George Daniels, the watch displays only hours and minutes. Seconds are also presented on the hand-engraved dial by a subsidiary second’s dial.
Lot 104: Patek Philippe, World Time Ref. 7130
Ask any true collector what their favorite watch is, and they will tell you that choosing a favorite is a challenge. But this Patek Philippe World Time Ref. 7130 has my heart.
Okay, so what I’m about to say might be controversial, but hear me out! I think this white gold World Time model makes for the ideal daily wear.
I mean, think about it: The monochromatic dial is sure to go with any outfit, and though the complication of all twenty-four time zones can be distracting, the 36mm case keeps it surprisingly subdued. Plus, the elegance of its single-rowed diamond bezel allows for a day-to-night appeal, as does the alligator band.
Lot 99: F.P.Journe, Chronomètre A Resonance
While it’s true that I have unquestioned loyalty to vintage pieces, the complications found in the modern lots at the Phillips 2021 New York Watch Auction had me beginning to doubt my allegiances. In short: The lots are complicated in the best possible way. Take, for example, Lot 99.
Arguably made by my favorite modern watchmaker, this F.P.Journe Chronomètre A Resonance is mesmerizing. The 38mm platinum piece is complemented by a white gold dial and a rhodium-brass movement. Unlike the second generation’s rose gold movements, this historically significant piece makes a complicated piece an easy decision.
Lot 95: Richard Mille, RM022 Tourbillon “Aerodyne” Dual Time Zone
When vintage lovers find themselves presented with a Richard Mille, their opinion is, well, complicated. My thoughts on the skeletonized pieces have always been different. Personally, I think they are terrifically cool, and this RM022 is nothing if not that.
Having always been a fan of blacked-out watches, especially when it is factory done, this dual-time tourbillion combines technique and technology. Made from materials two-hundred times stronger than steel and tested by NASA, making of the firm belief that this watch should be worn to space. Hint, hint, Elon.
Lot 123: Patek Philippe, Annual Calendar Ref. 5905
I challenge anyone to find a watch lover a combination of four words that sound better than Patek Philippe Annual Calendar. Throw platinum in the mix, and you have yourself pure horological poetry.
An updated version of the Ref. 5960, this flyback chronograph’s 42mm case makes a timely impact. Indeed, I envision wearing this piece would be comparable only to wearing a miniaturized version of a city’s signature clock (personally, I would go for a mini version of the famed Parisian clock at Musée d’Orsay or Big Ben). My point is: This lot is, basically, one’s own little landmark.
Preaching To The Converted
There is no denying this auction features some serious heavy hitters from the modern watch genre, especially with the announcement that a new Tiffany & Co. x Patek Philippe Ref. 5711/1A-018 will be on the auction block. However, my affinity for vintage is still strong.
That said, I am willing to reluctantly admit that the allure of both the F.P.Journe Chronomètre A Resonance and the Patek Philippe lots may have caused a crack to form in my vintage collecting foundation.
The 2021 New York Watch Auction takes place December 11th and 12th, visit Phillips’ website for more information on the sale.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)