Povey's Pick — Phillips "STYLED. Timeless Watches & How to Wear Them" Auctions, December 2018By Ross Povey
After an arguably subdued auction season in Geneva, can the Phillips New York sale in early December inject a little energy into the market? Well, at this particular juncture it’s difficult to predict… as is the direction of the vintage watch market in general. But what I can say with absolute certainty is that this sale will be stylish. Phillips have partnered with the two biggest names in men’s online style bibles, The Rake and Mr Porter. The lots are curated into sartorial themes and one thing is for sure, these watches would win the gold rosettes in the Best Dressed category!
Lot 118: Handsome Hermes
Sure, there are some incredible high-profile pieces in this sale that I’ll come onto later. In the current market, however, collectors are looking for the next ‘thing’ or a watch that sets them apart from the wrist-norm. Step forward Lot 118, a stunning yet quirky gilt dial 1930s chrono that was retailed by Hermes. Known for its high-end luxury accessories, Hermes has also had some horological ‘home runs’, most notably the Cape Cod. The chrono offered in this sale has a black gilt dial with dual scales, both tachymeter and telemeter, that has turned a beautiful chocolate brown hue. A process that is as unpredictable as it is rare, tropical dials add a layer of desirability and intrigue to watches. The most noteworthy aspect of this lot is the unusual lugs, which are hinged shallow cone-esque pieces that sit against the solid flat lugs. Its in lovely original condition and is a good size watch, considering it’s vintage, at 35mm.
Lots 34, 46: Dapper Daytonas
No high profile sale is complete without a handful of impressive Daytonas. As a confirmed sapphire-era Daytona fanatic, I always look to see what is on offer from this genre. As you might have seen in my recent video with UK Director James Marks, Phillips have pulled off something of a coup… a colourful coup par excellence by offering all three iterations of the Rolex Daytona Rainbow across their three autumn sales. The Everose in Geneva, the White Gold in Hong Kong and the Yellow Gold in this New York sale (Lot 34). One thing is for sure, people aren’t ambivalent about the Rainbow Daytonas; it’s a Marmite watch that you either love or hate. I love them, as do most of the team at Revolution, so we wish it well in the sale.
Another interesting Daytona is Lot 46, a stainless steel Rolex Daytona reference 16520; an early production model with the highly sought after so-called ‘floating’ dial (where the COSMOGRAPH text is detached from the other four lines of text in the upper half of the dial). These Zenith-movement-driven Daytonas are increasingly edging onto the radar of collectors and a floater is one of the most desirable.
Lot 13: A Dashing Daytona
Sticking with the Daytona theme, Lot 13 is, in my opinion, one of the coolest Daytona Paul Newman’s to come to market in recent years. I enjoy seeing well-provenanced Daytonas that were awarded to winners of the legendary Rolex 24 at the Daytona International Speedway. There have been a number of modern-era Daytona winners’ watches at auctions in the past, but the present lot is something entirely more interesting.
This is the first known Daytona winner’s Daytona… and it’s a Newman! Awarded to LeeRoy Yarbrough on the occasion of him winning the Daytona 500 in 1969, this watch has a pedigree and provenance like few others. Yarbrough was one of only three drivers ever to complete the Triple Crown (winning the Daytona 500, World 600 and the Southern 500), a feat he accomplished in the year that he was awarded this watch at Daytona. The reference 6239 houses the tri-colour dial that collectors love and so is collectible in its own right. Add the provenance of its being a winner’s watch, as supported by a letter from Rolex USA, and you have a champion chrono!
Lot 70: Trendy Tornek
The Tornek-Rayville TR-900 is a rare diving beast that was issued by the US Navy in the mid-1960s. The watches are highly sought after by military watch enthusiasts, as there are only between 30 and 40 known examples; the vast majority were destroyed by the navy following the TR-900’s decommissioning. These watches are essentially Blancpain Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC 2 models, but with dials badged as Tornek-Rayville due to import restrictions in the US at the time. The most immediately noticeable attribute is the large round moisture disc on the bottom half of the dial, which would change colour if there was any hint of moisture ingress in the case. The cases were also fully brushed satin finished, as per US military spec. This watch remains in incredibly condition and will do well I’m sure.
Lot 75: Urbane Ultraman
A lot has been written in recent months about the new Omega Speedy Tuesday 2 Speedmaster, nicknamed the Ultraman. The ST2 was a reinterpretation of the vintage reference 145.012-67 that was featured in the cult 1960s Japanese sci-fi television series Ultraman. It was the 1971 series sequel, The Return of Ultraman, in which the watch appeared and the Speedmaster was a regular 145.012 but with an orange stopwatch hand. Finding an authentic original example is difficult, which is what makes Lot 75 so interesting. The watch is accompanied by an archive extract and falls within the accepted serial range for Ultraman Speedys. This is a cool cult collectible!
Lot 97: Nifty Thrifty
Who hasn’t dreamt of finding a beautiful and rare vintage watch at a junk sale or in a thrift store (or charity shops as we call them here in the UK)? That is exactly how Lot 97 was uncovered – rescued from a bag of junk watches by an eagle-eyed horophile. The watch in question is a super rare Rolex chronograph reference 3668 dating to around 1939. The watch is an early three-piece case chronograph with an unusual pink gold bezel with striking markings. This watch is sharp! The case looks wonderful and the concentric circles detailing on the bezel is still present. I really love this watch and if I could walk away with one watch from the sale…