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The Times of His Life
You never forget your first watch. It’s a sign of coming-of-age – a talisman from a world which is as a yet not quite your own. For Laurent Picciotto, it was a Seiko automatic chronograph – a beautiful piece that still forms part of his collection. In the schoolyard, there are those who have a watch and those who don’t. Laurent Picciotto already knew which side he was on. "The first watch of any collector is forever etched in their memory. You spend hours just gazing at this new, immaculate object. There’s so much emotion there – emotion you spend your entire life trying to recapture."
1974: the encounter
No matter how hard you try to control your destiny, the greatest adventures often come in the wake of unexpected encounters between emotions and facts. The encounter that triggered everything else for Laurent Picciotto happened one afternoon in 1974. That day, his father took him to the “Les Temporelles” gallery on Place Vendome. Picciotto father, a seasoned watch-lover, had just bought a watch he’d had his eye on for two years – the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet. He was welcomed by François Bodet, who handed over the timepiece to him. Little did anyone imagine at that time that François Bodet would become CEO of Breguet, or that fifteen years on, twelve-year-old Laurent, sitting in the background, would have become one of the pillars of the watchmaking trade, scarcely a stone’s throw away... and have the Royal Oak as part of his offering, too. "I still remember the upstairs at Chaumet, where Les Temporelles was. The place and its mannerisms would be well out of date today, but the Royal Oak my father chose already had a futuristic air about it. It was the watch of the future."
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1987: one giant leap
After a number of experiences in sales, Laurent Picciotto caught the watchmaking virus for good, and started up his own business. He paid a humble hand-over fee to a watchmaker and jeweller, from the time when the two professions went together. Some thirty years on, the same address has become one of the epicenters of the worldwide watchmaking galaxy: Chronopassion. "My sole motivation back then was to create the sort of watch shop I would have loved to find. It didn’t exist, so I had to invent it! In 1987 it was a little ahead of its time, but I didn’t know that yet. By the time the watchmaking market really started to take of, a little over five years later, I was already well-established."
The promises of the new millennium
At the dawn of the millennium, Laurent Picciotto took a new step in his watchmaking career: as well as choosing pioneering brands, he decided to help some newcomers get started and take their first steps. Those he was on first-name terms with, like Max, Felix, and Vincent, have gone on to be known by their surnames as leading figures in independent watchmaking: Büsser, Baumgartner, and Perriard, of MB&F, Urwerk, and HYT respectively. Laurent Picciotto had spotted and befriended them all. "People would come to see me when they were starting up. Some of them had a cheek, coming with nothing more than an idea in their minds. Others had sketches, or even prototypes. Some were more artists than watchmakers, for some it was the other way round; but they were all gripped by the same obsession – bringing something new to the world of watchmaking, as I had done ten years previously. Those were the first links in long chains of friendship."
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Ten years of excitement
Laurent Picciotto's personal collection has always been built up on the basis of two things: impulse and friendships. His friendship with Luigi Macaluso has had a major impact on him. The man who raised up Girard-Perregaux from the ashes set aside a few unique pieces for Picciotto. The ties formed with Audemars Piguet, meanwhile, were nurtured by the fact that at that time, they were opening one of the manufacture’s frst stores in Rue Saint-Honoré. And together with Panerai, Laurent Picciotto produced a number of very limited editions of Submersibles for left-handers – now much sought-after. On a person-to-person level, his meeting with the visionary Richard Mille was just as decisive. The man wanted a product that would be brand new, perfect, and extreme, with no limitations on price whatsoever. He was looking for a founding partner – and he found Laurent Picciotto.
Together, they set up the eponymous brand, designed the first models, and broke every convention in the book – not least by displaying the deservingly self-confident price of the watch on each advertisement. Laurent Picciotto bought some of the even more exclusive ones, and then decided to go one step further, directly operating the very first Richard Mille outlet. "All these adventures had one thing in common: we never knew where we were heading. The timepieces were new, as were the ways we communicated about them and sold them. The experience resided with the people involved – and they were certainly not lacking in it. In the end, it always comes down to the same thing: it’s all about the human factor."
2007: The Biver phenomenon
Jean-Claude Biver is a man who works fast, acts on impulse, and seeks to be both a loyal business partner and a true friend; he's not afraid to take risks, and rejoices in being different, unique – and getting there first. Laurent Picciotto shares all these qualities, and so the two men went into partnership. Together, they’ve done far more than merely opening the first Hublot store in the world. They’ve also produced unique models, limited editions, and other pieces, some of them acquired personally by Laurent Picciotto. "My meetings with Jean-Claude Biver are always very productive and very quick: an idea, a discussion in Nyon or over a meal, and of we go. Hublot’s like a motorway. I've stopped of there quite often just to purchase my own timepieces, but it’s a brand that has a way of taking you further – much further."
2017, Act II
For a new cycle to begin, the previous one has to come to an end. Laurent Picciotto carried on collecting watches he fell in love with – pieces by Bell & Ross, Sarpaneva, De Bethune, and others, all of them embodying great moments in contemporary watchmaking. And now, he's selling them all of. His collection is unlike any other in the whole world – and his next one will be just as unique that we might get to see in the next 20 years.
Below, browse all 43 lots coming to auction this May in Hong Kong.
JAEGER LECOULTRE Ref. 261.210.20, circa 2009. A fine and rare Baccarat crystal bubble-shaped atmos clock with moon phases, designed by Marc Newson, made to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Atmos clock, numbered 411 of a limited edition of 888 pieces.
IKEPOD Ref. HHT20 GR2 Ti, circa 2006. An unusual titanium wristwatch, designed by Marc Newson.
SNYPER Ref. 3161, circa 2009. A black PVD-coated stainless steel and black diamond-set chronograph wristwatch with day and date.
DANIEL STROM Ref. AC16-01.BR.90, circa 2014. A large and unusual bronze tonneau-shaped prototype wristwatch with sweep centre seconds and original mould of the case.
GIULIANO MAZZUOLI Ref. C02SS, circa 2010. Laurent Picciotto Collection: An unusual stainless steel retrograde wristwatch with sweep centre seconds.
CHRONOSWISS, circa 2008. Steel nevigator's board timer with four independent mechanical movements for two time zones, two chronographs and ballpoint pen, made for the Spyker supercar. Chronoswiss partnered with Spyker, the luxurious supercar maker, and created customized dashboards for the cars. This unusual board timer was manufactured to aid the navigator in a racecar and is in like new condition.
BELL & ROSS Ref. BR01-SK-BR-PA1120, circa 2016. A micro-blasted bronze and titanium square wristwatch with bomber jacket and travel bag, made for Chronopassion, numbered 1 of a limited edition of 50 pieces.
BELL & ROSS Ref. BR01-92-SA, circa 2010. A black PVD-coated stainless steel square wristwatch with timing instruments, numbered 1 of a limited edition of 500 pieces.
CORUM Ref. 082.301.98/0062 FG30, circa 2015. A chocolate brown PVD-coated stainless steel wristwatch with sweep centre seconds and date, numbered 271 of a limited edition of 350 pieces.
CORUM Ref. 05.0040, circa 2009. A black PVD-coated titanium skeletonised tonneau-shaped wristwatch with speakers and leather travel bag, numbered 1 of a limited edition 250 pieces.
H. MOSER & CIE Ref. 321.503-026, circa 2014. A fine and unique white gold prototype wristwatch with special blue dial and cap.
PANERAI Ref. PAM00024, 1998. A titanium limited edition cushion-shaped wristwatch with date, travel bag, framed photograph, framed sketches of the present watch, photograph of American patent and model of a battleship, manufactured in the first year of Richemont ownership.
PANERAI Ref. PAM0239, circa 2006. A fine and rare stainless steel left handed cushion-shaped wristwatch with date, made for Chronopassion, numbered 1 of a limited edition of 75 pieces.
PANERAI Ref. PAM00358, circa 2009. A fine and rare titanium left handed cushion-shaped wristwatch with keyring, notepad, model of a submariner, made for Chronopassion, numbered 1 of a limited edition of 100 pieces.
PANERAI Ref. PAM0382, circa 2011. A fine, rare and oversized bronze cushion-shaped wristwatch with date and model boat, numbered 193 of a limited edition of 1000 pieces.
AUDEMARS PIGUET Ref. 26185TI.GG.D002CA.01, circa 2008. A fine and rare sandblasted titanium chronograph wristwatch with date, leather travel bag, paperweight and ballpoint pen, made for Chronopassion, numbered 1 of a limited edition of 50 pieces
AUDEMARS PIGUET Ref. 26041TI.GG.1110TI.01, circa 2005. A fine and rare sandblasted titanium special edition chronograph bracelet watch with date, cufflinks, keychain, penknife, paperweight, leather travel bag and bracelet made from spare links, made exclusively for the Paris boutique, limited to 50 pieces.
HUBLOT Ref. 511.NX.2700.NR.PIC13, circa 2013. A fine and unusual titanium special edition wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date and canvas poster, exclusively for the Saint Honoré Hublot boutique, numbered 0 of a limited edition of 25 pieces.
HUBLOT Ref. 511.CM.1110.VR.PIC12, circa 2007. A fine and rare black ceramic limited edition wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date, dial depicting a skull, original study of the graphics of the skull used, exclusively for the Saint Honoré Hublot boutique, numbered 0 of a limited edition of 100 pieces.
HUBLOT Ref. 301.CX.134.RX, circa 2007. A fine and rare titanium and ceramic chronograph wristwatch with date and inverted chronograph buttons, exclusively for the Paris boutique, numbered 1 of a limited edition of 50 pieces.
HUBLOT Ref. 301.CI.8710.NR, circa 2009. A rare and unusual black PVD-coated titanium and ceramic chronograph wristwatch with date, numbered 0 of a limited edition of 250 pieces.
HUBLOT, circa 2012. A fine and rare sandblasted ceramic skeletonised chronograph wristwatch with travel bag and Ferrari windbreaker, exclusively for the Saint Honoré Hublot boutique, numbered 1 of a limited edition of 25 pieces.
HUBLOT Ref. 301.SL.1008.RX, circa 2007. A fine and rare titanium and ceramic chronograph wristwatch with date and inverted chronograph buttons, exclusively for the Paris boutique, numbered 1 of a limited edition of 30 pieces.
ALAIN SILBERSTEIN, circa 2010. A unique stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with day, date, 24 hours, unusual movement made up of coloured components and onyx chronograph buttons.
ALAIN SILBERSTEIN, circa 2005. A very rare and highly unusual stainless steel wristwatch with black enamel top and bracelet, manufactured in conjunction with Svend Andersen and limited to 10 pieces only.
ALAIN SILBERSTEIN, circa 1993. A very rare and historically interesting sapphire crystal triple calendar wristwatch with moon phases, limited to 10 pieces only.
GIRARD-PERREGAUX Ref. 99071-27-000-21A, circa 2009. A fine, rare and unusual titanium and platinum skeletonised three sapphire bridge tourbillon wristwatch with bracelet, numbered 0.
GIRARD-PERREGAUX Ref. 49930, circa 2006. A black PVD-coated stainless steel left-handed prototype chronograph wristwatch with date and 24 hours, numbered 0 of a limited edition of 249 pieces.
GIRARD-PERREGAUX Ref. 8017, circa 1998. A sandblasted stainless steel prototype chronograph bracelet watch with date and desk clock with paperweight base.
RESSENCE, circa 2012. A very unusual titanium wristwatch with orbiting hour, day display, freesbie and holographic sizing guide.
HYT Ref. 148-DL-21-GF-RU, circa 2014. A fine and rare titanium semi-skeletonised wristwatch with retrograde fluid hours, power reserve, HYT windbreaker, power pack, football and USB, numbered 1 of the first piece produced.
DE BETHUNE Ref. DB25LWS3V2, circa 2010. A fine and unique white gold wristwatch with spherical moon phases, power reserve, customised constellation of Laurent Picciotto's hometown, samples of the study used for the secret signature on the dial and framed photograph.
ROLAD ITEN, circa 2010. A highly rare pink gold, titanium, mother-of-pearl and diamond-set belt buckle with original certificate and fitted presentation box.
MB & F, circa 2010. A fine, rare and unusual titanium and white gold three-dimensional wristwatch with inverted movement, date ring, day and night indicator, tee shirt, original certificate and fitted presentation box.
MB & F Ref. LM1RG, circa 2011. A fine and rare pink gold dual time wristwatch with three-dimensional movement, vertical power reserve, speakers, miniature car and plane, original warranty and fitted presentation box.
URWERK, circa 2014. A fine, rare and unusual titanium and stainless steel wristwatch with three-dimensional satellite hour display, wandering hour and power reserve, numbered 37 of a limited edition of 77 pieces.
URWERK, circa 2008. A very rare and unusual titanium, aluminium and nitrate treated stainless steel chronometer wristwatch with three-dimensional satellite hour display, power reserve, cap and sketch of UR-103, numbered 10.
URWERK Ref. UR-202, circa 2010. A very rare, large and unusual stainless steel and titanium special edition three-dimensional satellite hour display, telescopic minute hand, twin turbin winding system, moon phases, day and night indicator, large poster, sketch of UR-202 and framed photograph of front and back of the watch, numbered 1 of a limited edition of 12 pieces.
RICHARD MILLE Ref. RM005 AF PG 147, circa 2005. A fine and rare pink gold skeletonised tonneau-shaped wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date, golf balls, book and framed photographs, the 'Mille' Mille.
RICHARD MILLE Ref. RM010 Black and Blue, circa 2010. A fine and rare DLC-treated titanium skeletonised tonneau-shaped wristwatch with date, blue luminova, special Velcro strap, magazine, golf balls, original certificate and fitted presentation box, made for Chronopassion, numbered 1 of a limited edition of 50 pieces.
RICHARD MILLE Ref. RM001 AB WG, circa 2002. A fine and very rare white gold tonneau-shaped tourbillon wristwatch with power reserve, torque indicator, framed photograph and golf balls.
RICHARD MILLE Ref. RM011 AH Ti, circa 2010. A very fine and rare black-coated titanium skeletonised tonneau-shaped flyback chronograph wristwatch with month, date, golf balls and photograph, made for Chronopassion, numbered 1 of a limited edition of 30 pieces.
RICHARD MILLE Ref. RM008 AE WG, circa 2006. An important and unique DLC-treated titanium tonneau-shaped split seconds chronograph tourbillon wristwatch with guitar, golf balls, framed drawiing of the present movement, original certificate and fitted presentation box.