8 Things to Know About Collecting Watches from Auctioneer Aurel Bacs

KEEPER OF TIME. Pick up the finer points of collecting vintage watches with insight from the ex-head honcho of Christie’s watch department: Auctioneer-extraordinaire Aurel Bacs


Aurel Bacs Geneva Watch Auction
Aurel Bacs on the rostrum at the “Geneva Watch Auction: One” in May 2015


For the first time since its debut in 2005, the biennial Only Watch auction will be held in Geneva, the Mecca of fine watches. Only Watch is so named since watches auctioned at the event are quite literally the only one of its kind. A prototype, perhaps; or the first very first specimen in a limited edition. More than 40 brands will also donate timepieces specifically created for the event. There will the In The Pocket watch from Hermès, the Patek Philippe 5016A with its beautiful blue enamel dial, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay ONE Reference 7923/001 and many more.

Naturally, an event of this scale—and of this nature—will attract watch collectors, and the focus of these connoisseurs will squarely fall on the rare vintages.

In a way, it makes perfect sense. Beyond the appeal of owning a piece of history in the form of decades-old mechanical wonders, vintage watches can also make for a solid investment option. Now, collecting vintage watches isn’t exactly a sound strategy if you’re thinking about, say, your retirement plan. Still, old and rare watches of some significance (say, a brand’s first true dive watch) will generally appreciate in value quite fast. Last year, the Patek Philippe Supercomplication pocket watch was auctioned off at Sotheby’s for a mind-boggling US$24 million, clearly beating its own record set in 1999 at US$11 million. This is obviously an extreme example, but it nicely highlights the value of aged but momentous timepieces.

Besides, you can’t exactly wear stocks and bonds, no? And this is something that you instantly show off to your close friends.

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