Silas Walton, the London-based watch dealer and founder of A Collected Man, is known for getting his hands on some very rare timepieces that would be the envy of most blue-chip auction houses. Just last year, he sold a Philippe Dufour Grande et Petite Sonnerie for a record-breaking $7.6 million. It was the most expensive timepiece from a living independent watchmaker ever sold. He also happens to be the first and only authorized pre-owned dealer of Dufour watches. But if you’re looking to get your hands on some of his (relatively) more affordable timepieces, now is your chance.
Starting this week, A Collected Man is auctioning off five neo-vintage timepieces from Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Daniel Roth, Audemars Piguet and Franck Muller. The sale marks the company’s third auction. A sale in April raked in roughly $370,000 at current exchange, while the combined May hammer prices came in at approximately $252,080. This month’s lot includes three platinum pieces, a monopusher chronograph and a limited-edition salmon dial, to name a few.
A few watches already have bids straight out the gate. The salmon dial Cartier Santos Dumont 90th Anniversary Limited Edition in platinum currently is already at £14,500 (approximately $17,798 at current exchange) at the time of publication. Released in 1994 in a run of just 90 numbered pieces, this 27 mm x 1.5 mm watch is small in size but big on impact. The peachy hue of salmon dials is highly valued by collectors, but the fact that Cartier rarely makes them ups the ante on this piece’s must-have factor. Adding to its appeal is Cartier’s classic design, which was born from a watch originally created by Louis Cartier for Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, that remains as elegant today as it was at its inception well over a century ago.
Another eye-catching dial in the mix comes on the Vacheron Constantin Mercator. Made from solid gold, it displays an engraved map of Europe, Asia and Africa, mimicking the drawing of Geradus Mercator, a famed 16th-century Belgian geographer and cartographer. The dial was created by artisans Jean and Lucie Genbrugge and their signature can be found at 4 o’clock. The dial is accented with two gold retrograde hands displayed like a compass. In total, 638 pieces of this 36 mm Mercator were thought to be made during its 10 years lifespan starting in 1994.
For chronograph buffs, there are two references on offer: a Franck Muller Prototype and a Daniel Roth Monopusher Chronograph. The latter is just one of 16 examples ever made in platinum (36 were made in yellow gold) and as Daniel Roth has been gaining in collectibility in recent years, it will definitely be one to snag. The piece was made just two years after Roth started his eponymous business in 1991. The Clous de Paris-decorated dial features Roth’s signature at 12 o’clock and “Numero 8” at 6 o’clock to designate its number in the series. The number is also featured on the movement.
“It’s unbelievably special and this is the only example we’ve crossed paths with over the past eight years,” says Walton when asked which piece he wishes he could keep in his own vault. “Only sixteen were made in platinum, with a modified Lemania 2220 movement, from the 1930s. This was very unusual at the time but is now seen in the work of later independent watchmakers like Kari Voutilainen. It’s also from 1991, so at the height of Daniel Roth’s involvement in his eponymous brand. It’s a beautifully designed watch, from a historically important independent watchmaker.”
Apparently, collectors agree. The watch is already leading the pack with the highest bid, currently at £20,000 (approximately $24,549).
Prototype pieces, such as the Franck Muller chronograph, however, are not to be overlooked and are always intriguing finds in the secondary market. Typically, these remain with the manufacturer or the watchmaker that created them and are used as blueprints for production pieces. This one is a prime example of Muller’s early, more traditional work, and features Breguet-style hands and numerals as well as a polished case with a concave bezel. The 36 mm piece is engraved on its caseback with “PROTOTYPE” and “N. 0/0.”
Finally, for those looking for something a little more unusual from Audemars Piguet outside of its hype-up Royal Oak, a rare platinum Star Wheel, should be a standout. Its wandering hours display tells time via three sapphire discs, printed with hours, rotating on a central pivot in lieu of the traditional hour and minute hands placement. Minutes are read on a white track between 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. The numeral on the sapphire crystal disc rotates onto the track to read the hour in correspondence with the minutes. Beneath the crystal discs is a beautifully-executed guilloché dial, while the inner mechanics of the caliber are revealed in the center with hand-finished angling and polishing.
Each piece will be available for bidding now through June 29th. May the best hand win.