The Heuer Parade — The Value of Themed Auctions

If motor racing and precision timekeeping nostalgia is your thing, then Phillips Geneva auction kicked off with 42 spectacular chronographs from Heuer in the 60’s and 70’s.  From a time when motor racing was more of a gladiatorial sport than a procession around the track; where they used milk bottle tops for brake pads and wore short sleeved shirts to improve their sun tan. Heuer watches have perhaps not received the plaudits they should and there is, thanks to Steve McQueen, an overemphasis on the Monaco. Hence, this was an occasion to not only see the considerable line up of Heuer watches from arguably the most productive and imaginative era in the company’s history, but also (with the necessary funds) acquire some of the rarest and well preserved examples.

There was considerable interest in the sale, in the room and one various forms of media.  Online bidding played a strong part in this sale in moving prices and watches at the final bid. Vintage chronographs are definitely “en vogue” at the moment and with the likes of TAG Heuer, Longines, and Tudor all issuing “heritage” chronographs based on past designs.

All watches in the sale were sold (one lot was withdrawn) and nearly all went over or substantially over the high estimate. The star of the show was undoubtedly Lot 3: The Heuer Autavia ‘Big Sub’, 1st execution dial, 2nd execution hands, but with the necessary documentation to show that was exactly how it left the factory in 1962.  All in, this watch went for CHF 137,500, above the high estimate, but only just. The best performance went to Lot 16: The Carrera “Yachting” with a rare tropical dial featuring a register at 3 o’clock displaying blue-printed sailing indications; selling for CHF 58,750 (more than three times the high estimate).

examples than the ones auctioned by Phillips on this occasion. Also, there are now committed collectors for most brands out there; the auction market is no longer the preserve of the Patek and Rolex grail watches. However, with the general rise in the auction market in vintage watches, even watches of this standard and vintage are beginning to see price escalation. If you bought low, and bought wisely, you are smiling now. For me, if I could have, I would have gone with Lot 11: A pristine example of a very rare Carrera ‘Indianapolis Speedway’ Dato 45: Made for the Speedway gift shop in about 1970.  So very iconic!  Nonetheless, even this former gift shop watch went above the high estimate for CHF 32,500!

The sale was a great success. Not only for Phillips, but equally to show case the value in vintage watches from other brands that are preserved in exemplary condition. Vintage watches are undoubtedly on the rise across the board and this sale only confirmed that. Great result for both Phillips and owners of vintage watches from brands other than those from the typical big performers at these auctions.

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