A Few Auction Tips from an Expert
For the watch aficionado looking to add a truly timeless timepiece to his or her collection, there’s no better place to shop than an auction at Christie’s. This legendary auction house has sold 42 watches for prices of over $1 million each and racked up total watch sales of $800 million in just the last eight years.
Another auction house noted for selling rare luxury watches is Sotheby’s, whose worldwide director of sales communications Matthew Weigman gave a hint as to why some pieces are so coveted and bring such high prices. “Watches are distinct from many of the other collecting categories in that they are ‘living’ objects with working mechanisms,” he stated. “The finest examples, therefore, display exquisite craftsmanship in both the design and the complication.”
Some of the most beautiful and unique timepieces in the world are going on the auction block at Christie’s and Sotheby’s over the next few months including several by Patek Philippe, one of the most popular luxury watch brands among bidders. If you’re tempted to try your hand at picking up a watch at an auction, here are a few hints from Tim Bourne, Sotheby’s worldwide head of watches.
There are several factors that impact the value of a luxury watch like condition, brand, case materials, complications and special features. Condition should be considered the most important and the closer to mint condition, the greater the value. This is true for both vintage and modern timepieces.
One exception to this rule is that some vintage watches can have a natural patina of aging that actually increases their value. This is especially worth noting for very high-end vintage models by brands like Patek Philippe and Rolex where a gracefully aged original piece is worth more than one that has been polished and refurbished.
Be aware of a watch’s provenance since a piece that was once owned by a famous person can bring a much higher price at auction.