Swatch Collection Expected to Bring $1.3M at Auction
When most of us hear “Swatch Watch” we think of that brightly colored plastic band that we picked up at the mall and tossed into a drawer when the battery died. Maybe we should have held on to those relics of the 80s and 90s since one collector’s cache of Swatches will be going on sale this week—for over a million dollars.
Back in the late 70s the Swiss watch industry was on the ropes after being dealt an unexpected body blow from Japan, which flooded the market with inexpensive but super accurate digital timepieces. In 1983, Swatch helped get the Swiss watchmakers back into the game with the launch of a line comprised of colorful and affordable watches that allowed the wearer to express his or her personality with a flick of the wrist.
No one loves Swatch watches more than Paul Dunkel of Luxembourg, who has spent the last 25 years accumulating more than 5,800 of the timepieces. In Dunkel’s collection are practically every model ever released by Swatch including limited editions by artists like Keith Haring, related artwork and the James Bond 40th anniversary collection. The latter comes handsomely packaged in a vintage leather briefcase fit for a superspy.
Now the 68-year-old retired insurance broker has decided that it’s time to pass his labor of love onto a new generation. Dunkel told a reporter, “For me, it’s not possible to continue (collecting). It’s so much work. The young people must continue.”
Those young people better come supplied with plenty of cash since the collection is being sold as a “superlot” at Sotheby’s on Tuesday and is expected to sell for $1.3 million.
So who is likely to bid on Dunkel’s collection? Sharon Chan, Sotheby’s head of watches, points out that “serious luxury watch collectors” are fond of Swatch models because “each watch in this collection translates into a chapter of contemporary art.”