Phillips Perpetual has officially opened up shop in London. The new project aims to offer watches year round to clients and its new boutique, run out of the auction house’s European headquarters in Berkley Square, is currently offering 40 timepieces from both big names and independent watchmakers alike. The current lineup includes watches from F.P. Journe, Philippe Dufour, Roger Smith and a rare Cartier Crash Radieuse to all the Rolex Daytonas and Submariners you would expect.
The new retail venture was always going to have a little more to it than simply providing a conduit for watches that don’t make the auction selection. Phillips, through the partnership with Bacs & Russo, has cut a swathe through the auction scene over the last few years, acquiring records (including the legendary $17.8 million for Paul Newman’s ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona in 2017), profile and business at a rate that’s left some less fleet-footed competitors looking decidedly pedestrian. Aurel Bacs undoubtedly has star quality when it comes to persuading collectors to part with rare watches and Phillips’ editorial approach to themed sales and catalogues has set the standard. The Perpetual offer has equally considered thinking behind it.
James Marks, Phillips’ International Specialist and Director of Watches, said the project came about in recognition of the different collecting cultures that exist around the world – London has a thriving dealer eco-system but few major auctions; Bonham’s, Christies and Sotheby’s all hold the major sales in Geneva, as does Phillips, but dealers are thinner on the ground. Phillips Perpetual helps the house to bridge the gap, but it also opens a route into the auction world for new clients. “Budding collectors in London are often looking for a help and guidance and we want to be the shoulder they can lean on when building their collections,” says Marks.
The core of the offer is “collector-ready” watches and Phillips boasts a £3 million (approximately $3.6 million at current exchange) inventory. What makes the difference, apart from being available every day, is that Phillips will offer a program of talks and seminars throughout the year and will offer new watches from the likes of MB&F and the fast-rising independent, Singer Re-Imagined.