The Absurdity of Phillips Auction in Geneva

On May 10, 2015 Phillips Auction held an auction of watches in Geneva.

And while every single watch expert or watch expert website was all excited and pumping their fists at the record setting prices, I was not.

I was not, because we've been had, and it was disgusting and absurd.

Not because its absurd for values of desired products to be higher than what they originally sold for (or anything like that), but because the standards used to determine value was inaccurate, non substantive, and completely artificial.

And it's absurd that auction houses (and the seller's obviously), use *certain* online publications to "bump" values artificially and take advantage of our (we, the people) ignorance (brainwash).

In other words, they appealed to the watch aficionado's collective desire to stay blissfully ignorant for as long as possible, and those websites, those so called "experts" profit on, and get off on being the vehicles used to perpetuate all of this.

I will offer a small round up of what sold that was not a completely disaster, and that represented truly significant watches that warranted their eventual sale price (a lot closer to warranted anyway), but right now, in this post, you need to know what happened in Geneva is not sane nor healthy for the watch collecting world.

And it dumbfounds me how any watch "expert" could even say it is (unless they're seriously profiting from it), or feel good that they helped anyone along the way.

And yes, the biggest victims were the tools that bought those "tool" watches for millions of dollars, which means they have millions to blow, but it's still not cool (it's not as if those millions blown go to actual good causes, but rather to the pockets of other millionaires/billionaires playing this silly game).

And while there were a lot of over-priced garbage that took place, I hate to say it, but the $4.4million the reference 130 Patek in Stainless Steel got was the biggest offender.

As a watch, without a doubt it is beautiful. Simple and clean, made of Stainless Steel, which in many ways I prefer to Gold, and is a classic Patek in many ways, but as far as Patek's collection is concerned, it is no where near their best work.


This watch, artificial bump aside, is extremely desirable because it is rare and thats it.

I even read one person say something (and I am paraphrasing), "it's so understated you could wear it with a sweater and blazer and no one would ever notice it's anything special". 

In other words, the idiot who spent nearly $5million (including fees) for the ref.130 spent it on a watch no one will ever think is special unless they hear the entire backstory about how it was commissioned by two brothers who happened to be doctors, bla bla bla, and even then will probably be shocked to hear it cost the equivalent to 5 of these.

To the writer who wrote that, you are a fucking moron!

You should have had said watch shoved up your ass sideways, as if you were a prisoner in Hanoi, but I digress...


The other big offender to also crack $1million was the "Albino" Daytona from 1971, that once belonged to Eric Clapton.

I know Mr. Clapton would never admit to this, but he and I both know the truth: he's the big winner here, because the more people try to say the value of the "Albino" has nothing do with Eric Clapton (like the douchebag previously mentioned), it absolutely does.

If you think it doesn't, you too are a douchebag.

And Eric Clapton proved it, because while he sold the watch in 2008 for $505k, he paid no where near that amount. 

So why wasn't this watch, which was still the same 1 of 4 all-white dialed ref.6263 it is today, worth at least a couple hundred grand before Eric Clapton owned it?

There were watches, even Rolex watches that reached those amounts in those days.

The answer is because a ref.6263, while a brilliant watch, is not worth anything near a couple hundred grand. It has a friggen valjoux 72 in it. A great movement sure, but a generic movement found today in countless $2000 watches.

Again, a brilliant watch, but not only is not worth $1.3 million, it's overpriced at the usual $25k-$35k a ref.6263 usually usually sells for.

And yes, there were other 6263's in the auction that sold for more than $35k, but they were actual one-of-a-kind watches thanks to actual use, exotic dials, precious metals and diamonds, and NONE of those went anywhere near $1 million (the highest was an exotic dialed - a.k.a. Paul Newman Dial - that was absurd in it's own right at about $375k, the rest hovered between $75k and $125k).

But they were not owned by Eric Clapton, otherwise who knows?

Another watch that was not on anyone's list online, was a Rolex 6556 that sold $40k (plus fees)!

This is a cool watch, but it never sells this high. If it hits $10k it's already outrageously high, yet this one, because it has a Tiffany Logo on it's dial, goes through the roof.

And then there were the countless Rolex watches that had different references stamped in their casebacks. Normally thats something to think twice about (is Rolex so lazy to not engrave the correct reference on the inner caseback of a watch on purpose, or is it a replaced caseback?), but here it was a reason to overpay.

Folks, that was stupid!

And I realize that the people buying these watches at these prices really don't care about the money. It's a game. A race. To get a watch that their friends didn't get. It's all about bragging rights, and right now the guy who lost these watches are thinking they should have gone higher, and next time they will.

But I repeat, it's absurd, because the overwhelming majority of these watches do not have the horological significance to back it all up. If they did, fine, but they didn't and never will.

And other watches that do, were in comparison, ignored.

And that reminds me of something else I noticed: while all the Rolex and Patek watches (more or less) fell within the pre-auction estimate, never going over by *too much* if they did, many of the other watches, the ones I am referring to as more horologically significant and interesting had their pre-auction estimates eclipsed. Some even shattered it (especially when seen as a percentage).

If nothing else, what this tells us is a little something about what Phillips Auctions knows or doesn't know about watches.

Rant over.