USA Today – Collector World – OM Magazine Issue 23

It is hard to keep impassive in front of the results in Geneva, or maybe I should say “The last auction in Geneva” In fact referring to extraordinary events there has been only one. In my opinion the only sale that can be considered ‘ game changer’ has been carried out by the sale of the 6263 Daytona Paul Newman in Antiquorum. Like everyone else I too have been amazed and fascinated by Aurel Bacs’ ability and undisputed leader in vintage watches auctions, who once again has showed he can easily sell his own timepieces at double the market price, and sometimes at an up-to-ten-times price. Besides admiration for the top commercial performances and enthusiasm in thinking “Oh yes, it is true, this market is still in its infancy and the best is yet to come.” There is also the curiosity, the irresistible desire of being able to interpret the phenomenon and understand its dynamics. Have we finally got to the days when collectors buy what is beautiful regardless of the ‘quotes’ which only trivializes their importance? Customers who bought four or five times the ‘market price’ are aware of it or they have just accepted the word of the seller without doubt. I am not hiding I am nurturing this dream for a long time, which could be considered naïf by many people. A reality made of people with taste, and a certain sensibility is necessary. This means finally to discover the world and energy that I have always had, creating the market that has little to envy to the contemporary or vintage high-level cars. It has to happen there are more extraordinary objects that cannot continue to go unnoticed. Accepting the idea of never being able to be free from the weight of the investment aspect, if not speculation on the power of appeal of any watch. I fantasize about this reality made of collectors who buy as I do: in front of the object which is beauty, purity or absolute substance, the only problem compared to the price that I’m being asked to pay, is where to find the money in case what I have is not enough. I cannot explain how many times this has happened and how frustrating it is. When I offer on one of those objects that you can find only once or twice in a lifetime and the customer had to waive the purchase because the cost was 10% more than its ordinary equivalent. And how many others I’ve had to do the impossible to satisfy a customers obsessive desire to possess, or I’ve had tried unsuccessfully to buy back an object against a strong market demand, and then having to bend over backwards to please the same person to discard it at any condition, because at that time it did not meet the favour of the market anymore. The symbol of success and prestige had suddenly become the one of failure and embarrassment. But the object, the beautiful watch where has it gone? Lets admit it, collectors who buy a watch even the most beautiful example of the kind they love, rarely are they going to keep it forever. They don’t necessarily buy it to resell but anytime they need to know that the object has represented a good deal at the time they purchased it and it keeps on this way day after day. When this “business” factor disappears, so does the love often disappear. Of course I am generalizing, but to a large extent this is the rule. For the same reason I have heard customers with truly unlimited budgets say things such as “I won’t take it, it’s too expensive” and most of the time these were really difficult to find watches, and even more bizarre they were often cheap. So speculation/investment many times even as a virtual mirror in which the buyer would like to see a confirmation of his intelligence and abilities, just to gratify his own ego. In the end of course there is nothing wrong in all this. Every passion has it’s roots in something deeper than the surface on which it develops. But I have to admit that recently I may have become a little snobbish and I do not feel a great fondness for this form of attraction towards watches, which instead I keep on loving regardless of the fact that they are worth a lot or a little, as long as they can give me the kind of emotions which feeds my passion.

I regularly get calls from watch-loving friends who ask me for advice and opinions. Unfortunately the recurring question is often the same “how much is a Daytona with very brown counters?” and a Day-Date with an Oman dial? the red ones not the green ones. Nearly always referring to a watch that is not going to be offered, but who is undecided as to whether they should buy it or not referring to a piece that he already has had in his home for sometime. and has already been the subject of a similar market research a few months prior. What to answer? Is this passion for watches or for money? Or are we seamlessly celebrating the business and cultural acumen merging into a single profitable talent of the person who is calling me? Many years ago I was convinced that every object had an exact value. And I was establishing exact values for hundreds of brands and models with absolute precision. But I was wrong, like everyone else, and the facts have showed it. For example the same model watches that appear to be exactly the same we would give the same value to each watch, but in fact one may have something special about the dial or case that would now add hundreds or thousands to that same watch. I believe that nowadays only a contemporary second-hand watch can have an almost standard quotation. Everything else cannot. Each object has it’s own individual value, especially given by the amount we are willing to pay just to take it home with us. so the resent results at the Christie’s Geneva auction opened to the hope that there is a shift in the wind. On one hand it is evidence that when a watch is really special, prices really do not make a difference. We also have to consider the fact that most of the watches which set a new record were carefully selected and definitely paid more than a similar but more mundane example, even by the previous owner. Interestingly, it works also in the opposite way. In sales attended by buyers who are motivated by specific objects, the other ones often go unsold or are sold very inexpensively, regardless of their market value. Sometimes because they are not sufficiently “important” others because they are no longer on top of the watch market. Meanwhile I’m buying those too.

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