Eléonor Picciotto Asks Her Dad, Why Sell It All?By Eleonor Picciotto
It took 20 years for Laurent Picciotto to build his personal watch collection. But it will take no more than 20 minutes for Phillips Watches to auction all of it away on the 30th of May 2017, in Hong Kong.
Before he decided to put all 43 watches up for sale, even though I am his daughter — his beloved daughter — no matter how much I begged and pleaded, he refused to leave me one of those incredible timepieces. Not even for the sake of his own legacy.
I had to find out — why?!
For those of you who don’t know who Laurent Picciotto is… well, that might actually be a good think for you!
He’s just a watch geek. Stubborn, grumpy and always defying rules. In other words, he thinks he’s a rockstar. Oh, and he also happens to be my dad.
Subjectivity aside — and not just because we share some DNA rather than any physical resemblance — he is the watch guru, who has specialized in niche brands over the past two decades and also happens to be one of the few people (including Wei Koh) in the watch industry, whom you can trust blindly when it comes to any sort of watch talk.
For this reason, and many others that I won’t bother you with, I admire my dad. And as much as I tend to agree and encourage him to follow his most random actions and outrageous desires, I must admit that two things he recently did, really pissed me off. Big time. Not sure which one occurred first.
Was it the peroxide blonde hair dye that I discovered on our Whatsapp family group via a selfie he proudly sent? Or was it when he casually announced that he was selling his entire personal watch collection?
A simple “WTF” was the appropriate answer for the surprise. After my sister, grandmother and other members of the Picciotto tribe called in with a little bit of panic in their voice, asking what was happening … I simply switched conversations and asked my mom if my dad went crazy! She retorted, “How should I know?” and then added, “Go ask him yourself!” She also remarked that she kinda felt like she was now somehow married to the French version of Donald Trump; there wasn’t anything she could do or say to make sense of what he was doing.
So, I did exactly as she advised. I asked my dad, WTF was happening? I caught up with him for a few minutes, in between a few selfies and interviews during the viewing at the La Reserve in Geneva for the Phillips Watches Auction: FIVE, just earlier in the month. Here’s what transpired.
Just as a reminder, dad: you know you have three kids and a wife, whom I assume you love very much!
So, tell me, why on earth didn’t you keep any of your watches for us? Especially considering that some pieces are more emotional for you? The Hublot Cappuccino (lot 1013) to name just one — I thought we bought one each on my 18th birthday!
First of all, I don’t think like that.
It’s the only piece where you and I can be twinsies!
Second of all, no, it’s not the same piece.
Besides the diameter and the inverted buttons. Yes, it is.
Not quite — because not only is it a Drive, but it happens to be the N°1 of a 30 piece limited edition made exclusively for the Paris boutique we opened in 2007.
There was also the Big Bang Drive All Black (lot 1010) that we specifically launched worldwide for the opening of the first Hublot Boutique. I got N°1/50, which I also happen to be selling!
Okay, that’s my only concern, out of the way then. But how about Mom? You know how much she loved wearing your RM010 Black and Blue (lot 1030)?
It’s mine and I get to decide what I want to do with it! When you really have to think about it, it’s far easier to sell everything at once than to consider which ones to keep and which ones to let go.
The idea behind the sale is so that I can start again from scratch and gather up a completely new collection. Because, at the end of the day, there are watches that you realize you bought out of conviction, others that you bought spontaneously and some that were measured choices.
With that in mind, if you allow yourself to sit back and look at your collection and examine which one, five or ten watches should you keep — you end up putting everything back in the safe.
You should have done precisely this! Especially your MB&F LM1 (lot 1025)… that should really be back in your safe. You know how much I love that watch. Remember, I was part of the MB&F team the year they launched the first Legacy Machine!
[Bursts out laughing] First of all, I am not dead yet, stop trying to take my things from me. And then secondly, if all goes well at the Hong Kong auction, in the next few hours after, there is a very good chance that I will buy another Legacy Machine but it will be the Perpetual Calendar model.
Great! I’ll take the LM Perpetual, thank you very much!
By the way, as much as I loved your De Bethune DB25 (lot 1022) with their signature blue, I really can’t have a Dad walking around with hydrogen peroxide blond hair and a watch that has a secret signature —a comic version of yourself astride a rocket reaching for the moon. I mean really, what were you thinking?
It was Denis Flageollet’s idea! He and David Zanetta wanted to customize the piece when I told them I wanted to get one myself. I did not have a precise idea of what I wanted, they did and I thought it was cool!
Speaking of cool things, I remember when you first got your Panerai PAM0382 (lot 1005). You came home with a piece that looked like a regular rose gold Panerai, when, in fact, it was made of bronze. A few days later, we took off for the Christmas holidays somewhere in the Indian Ocean and you kept “bathing” your watch either in a glass filled with water, at the beach and the pool. Filming and photographing your watch every 30 minutes to see how the metal had evolved.
Consequently, you claimed that you needed to “feed content to your fans on Insta and FB” (just in case you don’t remember).
It’s true! After a few days, even a few hours, under natural air and humidity, the piece had already changed color. It developed a stunning patina over the years.
And yet… you’re not keeping it. It’s like your micro-blasted Bell & Ross Chronopassion Edition that comes with a bomber jacket (lot 997). You were so excited.
They are completely different! Are you crazy?
Not, as much as you are. But I am sorry, both are in bronze, both look rusty and you dutifully wore both of them at the beach.
Yes, but the Bell & Ross was not a natural bronze. When we did our special series, we decided to use a non-treated bronze in order for the metal to change overtime naturally. We asked the Bell & Ross chemists if they could work on the bronze cases beforehand so that each piece was unique in a way. The case color will keep on evolving through time but not as much as the Panerai Bronzo since the rusty color was in a way the color of its origin.
[My sister Zoe interrupts here] You know that any unique piece would have suited me. If you couldn’t wear your RM008 (lot 1033), I would gladly take it off your hands. I love unique things and I don’t really care about the price tag. Especially considering that the piece was specially made for you. I would have been so proud to wear.
Oh! All of you — back off and let me breathe. I need a Diet Coke!