Phillips Watch Auctions in Geneva are always high-profile affairs. The electricity in the room is palpable with star collectors vying for top lots and the high-octane energy and charisma of auctioneer Aurel Bacs. But not everyone has the desire or the downtime to jump on a plane and spend hours in a Geneva showroom, no matter how lovely it is.
The pandemic, of course, has also changed the mood—doing things remotely will now always remain an option. In that spirit, Phillips in Association With Bacs & Russo is holding its first high-value online auction, Geneva Sessions, curated by the team’s watch specialists. It will run from September 12 to 16 and include an impressive lineup of pieces generally reserved for live auctions. The sale estimate is CHF 1.1 million to 2.3 million (approximately $1,121,000 to $2,343,000).
Highlights from the more than 50 lots include pieces by the usual suspects: Patek Philippe, Rolex, Audemars Piguet and F.P. Journe, among others. Most are modern, made from the 1990s to the current day, with an average lot value higher than any other online watch sale at Phillips. Leading the roster is a pair of Patek Philippe Nautiluses: a Ref. 5980/1R pink gold Nautilus chronograph with pink gold bracelet, estimated at CHF 150,000-300,000 ($153,000 to $306,000); and a Ref. 5740 white gold perpetual calendar Nautilus estimated at CHF 120,000 to 240,000 ($122,000 to $245,000). There is also a coveted lot made by the current star of the independents, F.P. Journe, a Resonance in pink gold with a salmon dial, estimated at CHF 100,000 to 200,000 ($102,000 to $204,000).
Coming soon is a digital online catalog that will include high-quality photography with an aviation theme and high-end videography. “We wanted to have an online sale very different to what has been done before in terms of presentation of the watches, with a very artistic approach to the photography and videography as well as the cataloging,” says Alex Ghotbi, head of watches, Continental Europe & Middle East for Phillips. “All of the lots in this sale have been carefully selected for their exceptional quality, condition and provenance. Each has its full set of papers and box.”
The Geneva Sessions follows on the heels of an online auction in July curated by the Phillips’ Hong Kong team, which was 100 percent sold. Highlights of that sale included a ceramic Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar that sold for HK$2,394,000 (about US$305,000) and a Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time retailed by Tiffany that sold for HK$1,638,000 (about $210,000). The sale reached a total of HK$32,292,540 (about US$4,114,000).