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Watch Lot Focus: Phillips REFRESH:RELOAD

There are some really interesting and unique pieces on Phillips' currently running auction REFRESH:RELOAD. I think it is pretty neat to have a cross-catalogue auction online but, TBH, I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn't filter into watches only. It kind of reminds me of those aisle displays they put in supermarkets. What you really want is on the shelves but you have to swerve around all this other stuff to get to it.

So, I curated out just the watches. They are listed below and they live link to the detailed description of each lot. These embeds take a little bit of time to generate so give them time to load and format properly in your browser.  Please note that I am not affiliated with Phillips in any way, shape or form, this is just a bunch of embeds from their page so that you don't have to scroll through all the art and jewelry and you can focus on just the watches. Enjoy and good luck if you bid! PS: I did my best to get all the watch lots but if …
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The History of the Radioactive Rolex with One Complication

My family and I have a tradition when we visit the beach. We search for sea glass. When jagged and sharp shards of broken glass land in the ocean the constant sluicing of sand changes them. Over decades or more the edges soften. Clear glass becomes cloudy. Given enough time the entire shape of the glass can morph, from rectangular to ovoid. Each piece of sea glass is inherently unique due to imperceptibly small forces which slowly accumulate, resulting in major changes.

We know this is also true of vintage timepieces. After decades lume changes in hue. Dial faces crack, craze and fade. An object which was often mass produced consequently becomes a “pièce unique.” Watches are engineered to accurately and unchangeably mark the passage of time. We love and value vintage watches for the fact that they are altered by time itself.

The story I offer here underwent similar changes. It began as an effort to understand more about an unfinished chapter in the history of Rolex. It be…

It Takes More Than a Century for Basel to Spoil

Reading news of Rolex, Patek, Cartier and then LVMH dropping out of Baselworld is, by itself, a shock to the system. More than a century has passed since Basel became an industry gathering. It has survived numerous recessions and shocks such as the quartz crisis. Ben Clymer arguably best summarizes how momentous this is in the "Is Baselworld Dead?" episode of Hodinkee Radio last week when he notes that he never imagined he would see Rolex release a public statement severing ties with the show organizers while leading the charge, seemingly, among other brands.

The question is why?

For enthusiasts this is a bit like being friends with both people in a romantic relationship and hearing completely different stories about why the breakup happened. A breakup silhouette. On the brands' side is the claim that Baselworld rescheduled the show for a date in early 2021 without consulting the participants. Baselworld claims the brands had signed off on the new date, that the br…

Pandemic and the Watch Market

It is a safe bet that some version of the thought "where is this all heading?" enters everyone's mind at least once or twice a day as we muddle through this pandemic.  Perhaps it is indulgent to ask this question of the luxury watch market.  But an important part of getting through this moment is holding onto the things you care about.  Based upon my Instagram feed the #watchfam's passion has no doubt persisted.  I know I've been keen to gather some evidence about the path forward when it comes to the watch industry.

So on Saturday, March 20, I tuned in online, late, to the Antiquorum auction in Geneva of 270+ lots in order to get some sense of where we stand.  I live streamed the auction on YouTube and you can find it here.  A screenshot of the Antiquorum live stream As in so many things right now there was both good news and bad news.  I will lead with the good news since often that is easy to overlook.  The preowned market is still functioning, particularly i…

Chapter 3: Brands in the Preowned Market

An evolving trend in luxury watches involves brands taking an active role in the preowned market.  I first wrote about this topic last year when Audemars Piguet received attention for its plan to buy back its preowned watches and resell them, perhaps as an upgrade to a new watch purchase.  I shared reasons to believe that this might not be viable in the long-run.

Chapter 2 of this story unfolded in Melbourne, Australia late last year.  Vacheron Constantin recently opened a boutique in Melbourne.  Soon after that opening, timepieces from the brand's "Les Collectionneurs" effort were available for purchase
"Les collectionneurs d'estampes" by Honoré Daumier Vacheron is actively buying preowned timepieces, refurbishing them, and selling them back to the community.  Regrettably there is some opacity when it comes to the sourcing and pricing of these pieces.

This week WatchPro provides us with chapter 3 of the story.  Independent brand Meccaniche Veloci (MV) i…

Lessons from the Artcurial "Important Watches" Auction

There are many contradictions in the month of January.  There are reasons for optimism.  In the northern hemisphere we've passed the winter equinox and our hours of daylight are lengthening.  The world is literally getting brighter.  Many major holidays have passed and the warm glow of that time has a halo effect.  And yet, there is also the knowledge that tax season is ahead and a bill with uncertain properties may come due.  The additional holiday spending can possibly weigh on the budget, out of precaution perhaps spending is slightly subdued.

The month's positive zeitgeist might suggest that it is a good time to hold an auction, particularly in the more mild climate of Monaco.  Monaco Indeed, the Artcurial auction house did just that on January 14, 2020 with their "Important Watches" auction.  But the results suggest that the more negative aspects of the month perhaps dominated.  I'll explain.

Online I was able to watch approximately 105 lots go under the ham…

Watchspotting Carlos Ghosan: Then and Now

Even if you swore off the news over the holidays, trading in your smartphone for a burner flip phone and cutting off your internet service at the telephone pole, you probably heard about Carlos Ghosn going on the lam.  Ghosn had previously served as the CEO of Renault and Nissan, simultaneously, and he was a giant in the automotive industry.  But he'd recently fallen from grace.  Ghosn was out on a $4.5 million bail having been jailed by Japanese authorities for almost four months as a result of alleged financial crimes.  After his bail was set Gosn was placed under house arrest. But on December 29, 2019, he walked out of his house, took a high speed train, boarded a private airplane, and ended up in Lebanon where he hopes to evade extradition. 

The press is covering this escape in excruciating detail, including a running debate over whether Ghosn hid in an oversized case for musical equipment in order to evade customs and security checkpoints.  Media have also noted that there i…