Report I : Independents On The Auction Block – April 2018
Mr. Geoffroy Ader, former Head of Luxury Watch Department at Sotheby’s in Geneva, comes from a family of Parisian auctioneers, with over 20 years’ experience in the fine watch auction market.
Starting Point of the Auction Season – Dubai – March 2018
THE FIRST AUCTION OF THE SEASON FROM THE BIG THREE AUCTION HOUSES WORLDWIDE SET THE TREND FOR COLLECTORS. CHRISTIE’S SALE IN DUBAI SHOWED AGAIN SOME STRONG RESULTS IN ALL CATEGORIES OF THE WATCH MARKET. IT IS EVIDENT THAT INDEPENDENT WATCHMAKERS ARE AMONG THE NEW INFLUENCERS AND TRENDSETTERS.
IF PATEK PHILIPPE REAFFIRMS ITS SUPREMACY OVER THE WATCH MARKET, FOLLOWING THE FIRST AUCTIONS OF THE SEASON IN MONTE CARLO LAST JANUARY WITH LOCAL PLAYERS ARTCURIAL AND ANTIQUORUM, INDEPENDENT WATCHMAKERS ARE NOW MORE AND MORE PRESENT IN EACH CAPITAL OF THE AUCTION MARKET.
IN THIS SKOLORR BESPOKE REPORT, WE HAVE TAKEN THE CHRISTIE’S DUBAI SALE AS A STARTING POINT TO ILLUSTRATE THE IMPACT OF INDEPENDENT WATCHMAKERS ON THE AUCTION BLOCK, WHO ARE NOW VERY STRONGLY REPRESENTED BEHIND THE PATEK-PHILIPPE-AND-ROLEX DUOPOLY.
It is interesting to notice that amongst the sale’s top performing brands, two names are renowned for their contribution to the world of independent watchmakers. To start with, Richard Mille comes in the third position, just behind the duopoly Patek Philippe and Rolex. Then comes Harry Winston in the fifth position, just behind Audemars Piguet, the fastest growing vintage brand in 2017.
Looking carefully in detail at all numbers, we notice that Richard Mille managed to achieve the strongest average price per lot sold, which means a lot compared to the star brand Patek Philippe, whose top result made almost a million dollars. This shows again that independents maintain their value through the prism of a strong and dynamic secondary market, especially when they have a clear marketing strategy in the collectors’ eye. Along with Harry Winston, both brands represent a market share of almost 13% which is one of the major driving force of this first sale of the season in Dubai. An impressive result confirming the importance of this niche market segment.
This first sale also clearly illustrates the strategy behind the auction scene where “less is more”. With only 191 lots, Christie’s Dubai sale is a perfect example of the direction taken by the auction world where live auctions concentrating fewer pieces to achieve stronger prices in each category. As an example, Histoire de Tourbillon No. 5 by Harry Winston, made an impressive result clearly showing the trend towards excellence in independence watchmaking. If complicated timepieces are still in high demand, sports models should soon rise following the trend with Daytona, Nautilus and Royal Oak.
Our analysis of the auction market shows a commotion coming from the world of independent watchmakers. Although they may not have the same marketing power as the big industrial watch tycoons, it is important to study their positioning in the auction world, which explains why some collectors are now competing against each other very fiercely to acquire all best pieces at great prices for rare pieces.
If records were not beaten in this last session, it is very clear that F.P. Journe performed very well once again with its tantalum wristwatch “Byblos” whose final hammer price more than doubled the pre-sale estimation, showing once again that rare pieces by prestigious independent watchmakers are the right choices in the collectors’ world. The story to be continued with one of the maestros of independents.
The Dubai auction report is positioned in a strategic area of the auction world where there is a one of the strongest potential growth for collectors. The Middle East region is a niche market, just like Monte Carlo where new collectors can pick some interesting pieces and it happens more and more often that results do reflect perfectly the dynamism of these small capitals of the watch market, where sessions take place sporadically and not as often as major capitals like Geneva, Hong Kong and New York.
The Expert’s recommendations
If we observe the presence more and more often of independent watchmakers in the auction world, it is still very important for collectors to understand and apprehend all brands from a different level or point of view in regards to the secondary market. We have learned one main element from Christie’s first auction, their presentation with a smaller selection of items based upon quality, rarity and provenance go to higher prices and results. It is the key to success for independent watchmakers.
Richard Mille Picture Skeleton Watch Credit to Christie’s
Harry Winston Picture Credit to Christie’s
FP Journe Picture Credit to Christie’s