If you are into watches, you might have been following the auctions from the different auction houses over the last couple of days. Antiquorum, Christie’s, Auctionata… they all hosted an auction in just a few days time.
I have to admit that I love cars, but know only little-to-nothing about car auctions. However, when I see the whopping results of an auctioned Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider ($27 million USD), I also read that only 10 have been built. When I look at auction results for watches, you would expect that only very rare and exclusive pieces from Patek Philippe and likes would be fetching enormous prices.
Well, they do, but also a mass production brand like Rolex is fetching amazing amounts of money. Last weekend, a stainless steel Rolex Daytona ‘Paul Newman’ went for the first time through the $1 million USD barrier. How come? If Patek Philippe is to watches what Ferrari is to cars, you’d say Rolex equals BMW. So, when did a 5-series fetch a crazy price at a car auction?
Well, admitted, Christie’s mentioned that there are only ‘a dozen or so’ of this particular Daytona RCO (Rolex Cosmograph Oyster) models on the market. On normal dials, the text says ‘Rolex Oyster Cosmograph’ and somehow, someone didn’t pay attention in 1969 and printed the lines in the wrong order. Or something. It is these types of details that Rolex collectors are going after, while the more sophisticated Patek Philippe collector rants about complications and truly low production numbers.
In my opinion, it proves once more that there are two sorts of collectors: people that collect watches and people that collect Rolexes. It seems that many of the Rolex enthusiasts are mono-brand collectors and focus on the tiniest details of normal production watches and ‘hype’ them as being the weirdest thing they’ve ever come across in life.
I love watches and can talk about them all day, but what happened at this particular Rolex Daytona ‘Lesson One’ auction over at Christie’s is beyond all belief. Two other rare Daytonas sold well over the $800,000 USD-mark as well and the total 50 Daytonas sold for a whopping CHF 12,032,850 Swiss Francs, altogether.
Although I am happy for Christie’s and happy for their new homes, I do wonder what this means for the average Rolex collector. Will this lead into crazy prices at pre-owned and vintage watch dealers as well? Is the market ruined for the less fortunate people who only could spend a $100K or so on a vintage Daytona?
I don’t believe so – for now at least – as people bidding on auctions are also in a certain hype or mood. It probably does mean that the prices will go up a notch; at least the expectations will be higher during the next auction.
My biggest fear however, is that when the well dries out for Rolex collectors and bidders, they will hop over to other brands to get their hands on. That’s when the hurt really starts.