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By Gary Girdvainis

I think it was just after the 2008 crash that the calls started coming in.

Complete strangers were calling our offices and inquiring about watches as potential instruments for investment. From their perspective it seemed to make sense. Fine timepieces have perpetual and intrinsic value, are liquid and easy to convert to cash and small enough to secret away in a bank deposit box or home safe. Some will even appreciate over time.

Bernhard Lederer’s stunning Central Impulse Chronometer.

To these speculators and investors, the watch was simply a widget and could be anything (think NFTs), a device in which to insert capital and to be added to the other elements of a portfolio.

This cold, calculating valuation of wristwatches has gained momentum over the last decade-plus and is fueling rampant and runaway pricing on several preferred models. Some of which have seen values soar to ten, fifteen or even twenty times the original retail price.

The Jacob & Co. Jean Bugatti in a rose gold case.

This explosive surge has been brought on by a kind of perfect storm. First-off it could not happen without the internet. In the pre-internet era values would still climb on preferred pieces, but the forces pushing the growth were operating at a statelier pace. Watches would see price growth at auction, or via secondary sales at retail shops. The growth was not as immediately visible and volatile as the current state of viral information pathways.

The RGM Model 222-RR is a modern wristwatch with a vintage heart, featuring a Hamilton pocket watch movement and a ‘grand feu’ enamel dial.

Another factor is the fear of missing out. Buyers (note I did not say collectors) want to hop on board before the train leaves the station and are fueling the fires of desire and driving costs through the roof.

Forgive me if I feel that buying a watch purely as an investment is a sterile event without any real enthusiasm for the product, or any chance that the “investment” watches will ever see the light of day. Chances are the commoditized timepieces will sit in the dark until the next transaction, never to be enjoyed, shared, or shown-off except to confirm authenticity.

The Chopard Alpine Eagle Cadence 8 HF.

I’m a watch guy and have been for a long time. I appreciate the look, feel, sounds, and even smells (that vanilla scent on a nice rubber strap) that evoke pride of ownership and real enjoyment. Whether an affordable field watch with great lume, or a repeater softly chiming the time, watches are meant to be worn just like cars are meant to be driven.

I have a friend that has had amazing financial success in life. He recently invited me to his home and knowing I’m a car enthusiast was happy to show me some of the exceptional cars he had acquired over the years. One of which was the famous 1955 Jaguar D-Type. Designed for racing at LeMans and other venues, the D Type also happens to be street legal.

The Arnold & Son Ultrathin Tourbillon, now in two new designs, feature a new type of dial with tinted gold and aluminum sparkles to match either a platinum or gold case.

So as my friend sees me gaping at his exquisite machine, he tells me to look under the wheel well. I bend over, careful not to touch the coachworks, and look underneath. What I see is a spattering of mud on the wheel well liner. Not only does he drive this seven-million-dollar car, he drives it around town and even drives it to the track on vintage race days!

This post first appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of iW Magazine.

All week we’re reviewing 2022 debuts presented during Watches and Wonders 2022 that, perhaps, you didn’t read too much about in the first wave of online reporting.

 

One of the more impressive new chronographs debuted earlier this month in Geneva, the Angelus Chronodate is this watchmaker’s tribute to a chronograph it made eighty years ago in 1942.

The Angelus Chronodate Red Gold

True to the common bi-compax layout of many chronographs of that era, the retro update at 42.5mm is larger than the original Angelus Chronodate. It remains highly legible with similar big sub-dials and red-tinted chronograph hands. That very cool bi-compax layout is encircled by a peripheral date, which Angelus notes is also a direct reference to the original model.

The Angelus Chronodate Titanium.

Most effectively, Angelus has placed the watch’s counters and applied Arabic numerals on matte dials, like frosted glass, which provides a winning sporty effect and sets this series apart from so many other retro chronographs.

Angelus powers the watch with its own Caliber A-500, which is a 4 Hz chronograph with a column wheel and horizontal coupling. An historical Angelus logo graces the rotor.

And while the dial and layout are historically inspired, the Chronodate case is decidedly modern. Its modular frame protects the movement within a container made of carbon composite. Indeed, the chronograph’s push-pieces, the ring inserted between the case middle and the 12-notch bezel are also cut from this matte black material.

Angelus is making its Chronodate is available in three limited series’ of twenty-five pieces each. The red gold Chronodate features a blue PVD dial while the titanium versions are available in two color schemes, opaline white or blue PVD.

Prices: $23,100 (titanium) and $43,300 (red gold).

 

All week we’re reviewing 2022 debuts presented during Watches and Wonders 2022 that, perhaps, you didn’t read too much about in the first wave of online reporting.

With a trio of glorious chiming watches and a terrific flying tourbillon model highlighting Chopard’s 2022 Watches and Wonders debuts, it’s no wonder this handsome limited edition might have garnered less attention than it deserves.

Chopard’s L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer.

With a gold 40mm case, a forest green guilloché gold dial and a hinged officer-type back cover, the new L.U.C XPS 1860 Officer, which bears the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark, is both distinctive and elegant.

Much of its distinction lies within its gold case. Inside Chopard has placed its celebrated ultra-thin (3.30mm) L.U.C 96.01-L movement, which is the first Chopard Manufacture caliber from 1997.

Built with Chopard Twin technology and a 22-karat gold micro-rotor, the movement supplies two stacked barrels that guarantee a 65-hour power reserve and confer chronometer-certified precision. All L.U.C models with a small seconds display are certified by the Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).

As noted, the watch’s forest green dial is built on a solid gold base. In the center you’ll find a hand-guilloché honeycomb motif that also adorns the back cover. Until the 1920s, Chopard engraved all its watch movements and covers with this beehive and bees to symbolize industry.

The bees appear in random manner, which means each watch engraving is slightly different from another. Chopard reprised the bee symbol at the advent of the L.U.C collection in 1996.

L.U.C Caliber 96.01-L

 

Price: ($33,500, limited to 50 pieces)

Zurich-based Ineichen Auctioneers will focus on collectible watches made with a prominent shade of blue on its dial or case.

The “Precious Blues” auction will be live on April 23 with fifty watches. Look for pieces from Vacheron Constantin, De Bethune, Daniel Roth, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Greubel Forsey and Patek Philippe among the auction headliners.

Let’s take a look at a few highlights.

Lot 5

Patek Philippe

Nautilus Chronograph

Estimate: $85 900 to $107,400

From 2019, this 40.5mm stainless steel and rose gold wristwatch features a thickness of 12.2mm, a screw-down crown and sapphire caseback. Its blue sunburst and gradient (fumé) relief dial with applied luminous rose gold indexes, double sunken sub-dial with fine circular grooves is stunning.

Inside is Caliber CH 28-520 C/522, a self-winding movement with a 21-karat gold rotor, 55-hour power reserve and marked with the Patek Philippe seal. Functions: hours and minutes, flyback chronograph with central seconds hand and concentric 30-minute and 12-hour counters at 6 o’clock, date aperture at 3 o’clock. Nautilus bracelet with the first-generation triple folding clasp.

 

Lot 22

De Bethune

DB28 Kind of Blue

Estimate: $75,200 to $96,650

A rare and attractive model by De Bethune produced between 2016–2020. Its case is 42.6mm blued titanium,9.3mm thick, with mobile (‘floating’) lugs in blued titanium with pivoting system, sapphire caseback, blued titanium caseback rim with logo, scale of power reserve indicator, reference (as “DB28B Ti”) and watch number in numbered edition.

The watch features an open dial and rose gold hands. Thin hand-wound caliber DB2115V4 with balance and spiral on the dial side powers the watch with a double barrel and 6-day power reserve. Functions: hours, minutes, spherical moonphase indicator at 6 o’clock, accurate to within one day every 122 years, performance indicator (a kind of power reserve indicator) between 2 and 3 o’clock, and power reserve indicator on the caliber reverse. Black De Bethune leather strap with De Bethune pin buckle in blued titanium with gold pin. Numbered edition.

 

Lot 23

Greubel Forsey,

Tourbillon 24 Secondes Contemporain

Estimate: $107,400 to $161,050

An extremely rare and important limited edition complicated wristwatch from Greubel Forsey. This limited edition of 33 pieces was launched in 2013. Its 43.5mm case is made of 18-karat rose gold and measures 15.2mm thick with a blue textured dial, transparent sapphire chapter ring, sapphire caseback.

Inside you will find hand-wound tourbillon GF01c with a power reserve up to 72 hours. Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds hand at 10 o’clock, 24-second inclined tourbillon, power reserve indicator at 4 o’clock. Dark blue leather strap, Greubel Forsey 18-karat rose gold triple folding clasp.

 

 

Lot 49

Alain Silberstein

Tourbillon Volant

Estimate: $16,150 to $21,500

An unusual limited-edition (of 500) stainless-steel wristwatch from Parisian architect and designer Alain Silberstein. This limited edition launched in 2003 and features a case in 40mm stainless steel, 11mm thick, with a sapphire caseback. Its skeleton dial features a peripheral silvered white chapter ring and white ceramic scale for date indication at 12 o’clock (date markings of the present example are patinated and nearly faded out).

Note the characteristic Silberstein Bauhaus-style red and blue hands. Inside is Caliber ASC 1.1, a Swiss made, hand-wound movement with blue PVD-coated mainplate and personalized copper-colored bridges, power reserve up to 72 hours. Functions: indication of time in hours and minutes, flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock, date pointer at 12 o’clock. Black leather strap, Alain Silberstein stainless-steel pin buckle.

Lot 29

Daniel Roth

Perpetual Calendar Unique Piece

Estimate: $42,950 to $53,700

This impressive sapphire-set platinum wristwatch features a baguette-cut sapphire bezel and lugs. The reference 121.Y.70.722 from the Master’s Grandes Complications collection was launched in 2007. Estimated production span: 2007–2010s. The double ellipse-shaped platinum case measures 44mm x 41mm and is 13mm thick with a matte silvered and mother-of-pearl skeleton dial.

The Perpetual Calendar Time Equation watch is powered by the self-winding DR114 caliber, based on a Girard-Perregaux GP3000 movement-blank and accommodates an additional in-house module for the perpetual calendar, equation of time, moonphase, and number of days in the month complications. Functions: indication of time in hours and minutes, perpetual calendar with date, day of the week, month and leap year indicators, equation of time sub-dial between 10 and 11 o’clock, number of days in the month indicator between 1 and 2 o’clock, moonphase indicator at 12 o’clock. Black leather strap with 18k white gold Daniel Roth double folding clasp. Piece unique.

Lot 32

Konstantin Chaykin

Genius Temporis Prototype

Estimate: $21,500 to $26,850

In the development of the Genius Temporis project, Konstantin Chaykin attempted to combine the Renaissance-style aesthetics of early portable personal clocks and watches of the 16th century with the sophisticated, quirky, modern mechanics of the switching time indication system he invented in 2012 (described in his patent RU2511700). He started working on the wristwatch prototype in late 2013, intending to show the watch at the Basel fair. The watch is powered by the hand-wound in-house K.01-5 caliber developed by Konstantin Chaykin for this model.

Collectors can register pre-bids and participate in the auction live via the website or by phone via +41 44 298 11 44.

 

Source: Ineichen Auctioneers

 

 

 

Parmigiani Fleurier debuts a terrific world-first complication within the Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante that conveys flyback capability to a subtle GMT hand, all powered by a new in-house PF051 caliber with a 48-hour power reserve.

The Parmigiani Fleurier the Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante with a world-first flyback complication re-engineered solely for a second time zone display.

As the watchmaker’s Watches and Wonders 2022 highlight, the new watch nicely extends the sartorial approach to dial and case design embodied within the entire Tonda PF collection, which Parmigiani Fleurier debuted last year to much acclaim.

The new complication makes it a simple task to set and read two time zones. With two hour hands initially superimposed, the wearer need only press the pusher at 8 o’clock to advance the upper rhodium-plated gold hand dedicated to local time. Each press moves the hand one hour forward. This action reveals the rose gold hour hand, which displays time in the wearer’s home time. The watch is then set, and both hour hands will convey the time in both locations with no additional intervention.

Once the wearer returns home, he or she simply presses the crown-integrated rose gold push button to instantly ‘fly’ the gold hand back underneath the rhodium-plated hand.

These simple gestures engage a sophisticated flyback mechanism that on most watches operates a chronograph seconds hand, which here does not exist. Instead of timing two separate events, the job of traditional flyback complications, this patented Parmigiani Fleurier invention is employed to clear the dial of its third hand.

This enables an even clearer view of the hand-wrought barleycorn guilloché pattern blue dial framed with a sandblasted minutes track. As with every steel-cased watch within the Tonda PF collection, this GMT is also further framed with a finely knurled single-piece platinum bezel.

For many at Watches and Wonders 2022, this Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante was among the show’s highlights. It is certainly the purest GMT we’ve seen and a welcome display of restraint amid a torrent of grander world-timers and dual-timers displayed across Geneva this week. Price: $26,800.

 

Also new from Parmigiani Fleurier at Watches and Wonders 2022:

Alongside the Tonda PF GMT Rattrapante, Parmigiani Fleurier presented four more novelties. Two, the Tonda PF Skeleton and the Tonda PF Flying Tourbillon, display the same knurled bezel, teardrop-shaped lugs and clean Grain d’Orge guilloché pattern dial. The two others are the sporty Tonda GT Chronograph in Big Date and Annual Calendar in two new appealing new colors.

The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Skeleton, two new 40mm models in rose gold and steel/platinum (above), set with black rubies. Prices: $97,400 (steel with platinum bezel) and $63,300 (rose gold, pictured below).

The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Flying Tourbillon (above), a 40mm platinum-cased model with platinum micro-rotor. Price: $157,000.

 

The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda GT Chronograph with Big Date adds two dial options: Silver/grey (above) and pomegranate (below). Price: CHF 43,100.

 

The Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda GT Chronograph with Big Date and annual calendar, also with same color options as above. Both are pictured below. Price: CHF 19,400.