Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo continues to rewrite the auction playbook by offering a newly made one-of-a-kind collector’s piece among the pre-owned assortment at its Geneva X auction this fall. Phillips has been pioneering new platforms for watch collectors recently with themed auctions, including the Daytona Ultimatum, which consisted only of Rolex Daytonas, the upcoming Game Changers, a sale of watches owned by extraordinary people that will include a Rolex owned by Marlon Brando, and Double Signed, a collection of watches co-branded with retailers. It also launched Phillips Perpetual, a private salon in London with curated inventory for sale independent of auction.
The one-of-a-kind platinum-cased Zenith El Primero will be sold without reserve to the highest bidder, with proceeds going to Zoe4Life, a Swiss non-profit organization that is part of the Childhood Cancer International network. There is no minimum bid on the watch, which means the lucky buyer could scoop up a bargain, depending on interest. Phillips designed the watch to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the El Primero chronograph, the highly advanced, high-frequency automatic chronograph Ref. A386 introduced by Zenith in 1969.
It was the world’s first automatic chronograph, and one of the few even today with a high-frequency movement – it beats at 36,000 vph, compared to the standard 28,800 vph. The redesign, spearheaded by Phillips watch impresario Aurel Bacs, has a bold lapis lazuli dial and white subdials in an elegant version of the reverse panda design, an elegant take on the blue-white-gray color scheme of the original. (The watch is already being dubbed the “Aurel Bacs” El Primero.) Gold toned markers and gold-tipped hands match the gold flecks in the lapis. Like the original, it is being offered on a calfskin strap, in this case bright blue to match the stone dial. The caseback is engraved “Phillips in Association With Bacs & Russo.” The watch comes with a special 50-year warranty. Zenith promises it will be the only El Primero ever made in platinum.
“The One-Off,” as the watch is dubbed on the caseback, will be auctioned November 9-10 at La Resérve Hotel in Geneva as part of Geneva Auction X by Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo. The auction caps off Zenith’s year-long, five-continent anniversary tour of Zenith El Primero watch exhibitions.