Specialists' Picks: The Geneva Watch Auction: XVIII

Specialists' Picks: The Geneva Watch Auction: XVIII

Plenty of Pateks – and a pair of indies – make up our latest staff selections.

Plenty of Pateks – and a pair of indies – make up our latest staff selections.

Our first live auction of the fall 2023 season, the PHILLIPS Geneva Watch Auction: XVIII, takes place on November 3 and 4, at La Réserve Genève. The auction includes more than 180 of the world's finest watches – and though we are loath to boast, we truly think it's one of the best catalogs we've ever put together. We'll be highlighting a number of the most interesting lots and stories featured in the sale over the next month, including all the watches featured in this story.

There are more than 180 incredible timepieces to discover in the catalog for our upcoming Geneva Watch Auction: XVIII. The headliners and top lots consist of a few fresh-to-market examples of familiar faces (hello, 6062 and 3700), and there's a whole flock of incredible vintage chronographs to choose from – there's so much goodness to discover that it can be extremely difficult to select a single watch from the sale that's right for you. 

Alas, the heart wants what the heart wants.

Lot 21: A 2008 Kari Voutilainen Chronomètre 27 "Unique." Estimate: CHF50,000 - 100,000

We believe it's foolish to turn away from the watches you love the most, so while preparing for the Geneva Watch Auction: XVIII, we challenged a number of specialists and staffers in the Phillips Geneva office on what watch – one watch – would they choose to take home with them, if they could?

Their answers might surprise you. 

Lot 175: A 1952 Pink-On-Pink Patek Philippe Ref. 1463 With Two-Tone Dial And Serpico Y Laino Dial Signature

Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant 

Estimate: CHF 250,000 - 500,000

Precisely 70 years ago, in 1953 – the minds of the world were focused on Eisenhower and Stalin (the first inaugurated, the latter passing away), Walt Disney’s Peter Pan making its debut in the theatres, Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay reaching the peak of Mount Everest and, on June 2nd, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

However, one man’s mind was, exactly one day earlier, focused on something else: on this watch! In Caracas, Venezuela, the present “Tasti Tondi” was sold to and via Serpico y Laino, one of Patek Philippe’s most eminent retailers in the post war years. Not only in South America but probably on a global scale, Serpico y Laino was a pillar for Patek Philippe’s most important sales and many of the world’s most prestigious and complicated watches were handled the Venezuelan retailer.

Lot 175: A 1952 Pink-On-Pink Patek Philippe Ref. 1463 with Two-Tone Dial and Serpico Y Laino Dial Signature. Estimate: CHF 250,000 - 500,000

Reference 1463 was Patek Philippe’s first water resistant chronograph, thanks to the clever and tested case designed and supplied by Taubert & Fils, makers of the best quality watch cases with screw backs. Introduced a decade earlier, reference 1463 was some sort of Patek Phillipe’s first true sports watch: a chronograph, allowing its wearer to measure intervals up to 30 minutes, paired with a dust- and water-resistant case. Sportsmen of all kinds, adventurers, scientists and many other types of “gentlemen belonging to the upper class and living an active life” would have dreamt of this watch – bringing together the best in craftsmanship, design, practicality, wearability, exclusivity and elegance. Nearly exclusively reserved for the South American market were examples cased in rose gold and nearly exclusively all of those fitted with a two-tone rose dial were delivered to and sold via Serpico y Laino. Until now, we knew of only 4 examples with this configuration. Yes, only four!

And since the most recent discovery of the present watch that was never before offered at auction or known publicly, this is now the 5th example of this uber-exclusive “pink on pink” Serpico y Laino livered reference 1463.

Lot 175: A 1952 Pink-On-Pink Patek Philippe Ref. 1463 with Two-Tone Dial and Serpico Y Laino Dial Signature. Estimate: CHF 250,000 - 500,000

Preserved in stunning and unrestored condition, this watch has resisted all the fashion trends of the 20th and 21st century and stands still today the test of time as it not only survived remarkably well some 7 decades since its birth, but also in terms of condition it has aged better than most of its peers from the same period; and while most of the events I cited above are from a long gone-by area and part of common history books, this Patek Philippe chronograph is completely current and real to us today.

Lot 146: A 2007 Vianney Halter Trio In 18k White Gold

Alexandre Ghotbi, Head Of Watches, Continental Europe And EMEA

Estimate: CHF 50,000 - 100,000

People sometimes tend to forget but Vianney Halter is most probably the very first to have launched the genre of Independent Creative Horology with the presentation of the Antiqua in 1998. The Trio was the 3rd of the watches in his Future Anterieur (future past in French) following the Antiqua and the Classique and certainly the one that had the longest gestation period.

Lot 146: A 2007 Vianney Halter Trio in 18k White Gold. Estimate: CHF 50,000 - 100,000

Taking Halter’s signature steampunk elements of portholes and rivets the Trio is non only a gem of horological design with its large, curved case looking like something straight out of a Sci-Fi movie but the movement its self is quite interesting with the disengaging date mechanism. Interestingly the Trio was to remain a prototype and it was with the insistent persuasion of the consignor of this watch that Halter finally decided to take the step and to finally produce the Trio.

The Trio is bold, unapologetic, viciously cool and one of Halter’s rarest creations as he made only 10 pieces in white gold of which this is number 2.

Lot 174: A Circa 1963 Patek Philippe Ref. 3433 In Platinum With Hausmann Dial Signature

Arthur Touchot, International Head Of Digital Strategy, Specialist

Estimate: CHF 80,000 - 160,000

Stealth wealth. That's what it's all about with this stunning, platinum Calatrava made by Patek Philippe.

While the Ref. 3433 may not enjoy the same level of recognition as its counterpart, the Ref. 2526, it possesses many of the same distinguishing attributes. These include a comparable automatic movement (the Cal. 27-460, an evolution of the Cal. 12-600), matching case dimensions (measuring 36mm), impeccable waterproof capabilities, and a notable scarcity in the market.

Lot 174: A circa 1963 Patek Philippe Ref. 3433 in Platinum with Hausmann Dial Signature. Estimate: CHF 80,000 - 160,000

One noticeable difference lies in the dial; these watches typically feature a silver dial, which might explain their relative obscurity in comparison to other models. However, this specific example boasts an exceptional dial, with 12 diamond markers instead of the usual thin baton indexes, as well as a discreetly positioned name revealing its Italian destiny.

As far as we know, this is a unique example, made in 1962 and delivered to client of Hausmann & Co in the summer of 1963, and it has obviously been treated with great care ever since.

Lot 94: A Circa 1924 Patek Philippe Single-Button Chronograph With Breguet Numerals In 18k Yellow Gold, 'The Centennial'

Marcello de Marco, Specialist, Business Development Associate

Estimate: CHF 250,000 - 500,000

Clients often ask me if there still are “undiscovered gems” - models that due to their historical importance, complexity or rarity should be considered grails but which are not yet receiving the attention they deserve from the market. My specialist pick for this sale exemplifies that yes, indeed there is still much for the market to discover, especially in the vintage field.

Made in an extremely small series of 16 examples (of which only about half has resurface over the years) in the 1920s, such pieces are amongst the very first chronograph wristwatches to leave the Patek Philippe workshop - they truly are foundational creations for the company.

Lot 94: A circa 1924 Patek Philippe Single-Button Chronograph with Breguet Numerals in 18k Yellow Gold, "The Centennial." Estimate: CHF 250,000 - 500,000

Compounding to supreme rarity and historical importance, the piece furthermore sports an enormously attractive vertical registers configuration (while most - if not all - later Patek chronographs feature horizontal counters) and a supremely charming engraved/enamelled Breguet numerals dial. Finally, the Victorin Piguet ebauche that powers the watch is an absolute engineering masterpiece of early 20th century watchmaking.

Considered all of the above, a representative of this category should in my opinion be regarded as on par with the most important creations of the brand and yet, while of course still being hailed as a highly important timepieces, these creations are not financially comparable to, for example, a first series 2499 or a pink gold 1518. This, to me, renders this watch not only one of the most charming and important lots of the sale, but also one of those that hold the best overall value.

Lot 160: A 1957 Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 2526 In 18k Yellow Gold With Serpico Y Laino Dial Signature

Clara Kessi, Client Retalions Manager

Estimate: CHF 40,000 - 80,000

“Sotto voce elegance; an understated classic that exudes timeless elegance and taste." These eloquent words aptly capture the essence of lot 160, a Patek Philippe reference 2526. The present timepiece, encased in pink gold, graces us with its delightful light cream enamelled dial and a subsidiary seconds display at the 6 o'clock, proudly bearing the signature of Serpico y Laino.

The Patek Philippe reference 2526 is indeed a true classic, a gem cherished by vintage watch collectors worldwide. What sets it apart is not just its aesthetic appeal but also its historical significance. It was Patek Philippe's first model to feature an automatic movement, the revered calibre 12-600AT.
Lot 160: A 1957 Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 2526 in 18k Yellow Gold with Serpico y Laino Dial Signature. Estimate: CHF 40,000 - 80,000
With a diameter measuring a well-balanced 35.5 cm, the present timepiece sits gracefully on the wrist, enhancing the style and sophistication of both men and women fortunate enough to wear it. As I admire the watch, I can't help but be drawn to the harmonious fusion of form and function. Incredibly well-preserved, the pink gold case exudes warmth and luxury while the faceted hour markers add a touch of refinement, enhancing the legibility and visual appeal of the dial.
The presence of the Serpico y Laino signature at 6 o'clock adds historical significance to this already exceptional watch. Serpico y Laino was a renowned retailer in Venezuela who collaborated with Patek Philippe, resulting in some of the most coveted timepieces in the world. Spending part of my childhood in Venezuela, the S&L signature not only enhances my attraction to the watch but also resonates with fond memories of that beautiful country, making it a unique treasure to cherish.
Lot 160: A 1957 Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 2526 in 18k Yellow Gold with Serpico y Laino Dial Signature. Estimate: CHF 40,000 - 80,000

In conclusion, the present Patek Philippe reference 2526 in pink gold, to me, is more than just a watch; it is a true work of art, a symbol of refined taste, and a nod to the rich heritage of watchmaking. Its charm and appeal have transcended the years and remain captivating to those who appreciate fine watchmaking, both now and hopefully for generations to come.


Lot 164: A 1949 Patek Philippe Ref. 1463 In Stainless Steel With Breguet Numerals

Clément Finet, Specialist, Perpetual, Gstaad

Estimate: CHF 300,000 - 600,000

Building a Premium Collection (and this is true for all collections) rests on two fundamental pillars: cherry-picking each piece and seizing the right opportunities when they arise … and if there is one place where these pillars intersect, it’s in an auction room!

If you wish to be successful at auction – because you aim to build the best watch collection money and wits can muster –, then you need to master these two “skills.”

Lot 164: A 1949 Patek Philippe Ref. 1463 in Stainless Steel with Breguet Numerals. Estimate: CHF 300,000 - 600,000

That said, if your ability to seize the right opportunity probably only depends on you – your buying pattern or your mindset the day of the sale –, your ability to choose the right watch (for you) might well also have something to do with the specialist you choose to have by your side during the selection process…

Having joined PHILLIPS not so long ago. and this being my first “Specialist Pick”, I will say this as a sort of disclaimer: over desirability (and superlatives) I favor rarity, and over rarity I will pick quality any day… and by Quality I mean horological craftsmanship. That is where my focus lies.

Lot 164: A 1949 Patek Philippe Ref. 1463 in Stainless Steel with Breguet Numerals. Estimate: CHF 300,000 - 600,000

This is the mindset that drew me to my pick – lot 164 – for this live auction: a rare and stunningly beautiful variant (sorry for the superlatives…) of the classic 1463 Patek chronograph. Indeed, and to keep things short, this watch meets and even exceeds many of my horological expectations, and it is truly what one could call a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Lot 169: A 1952 Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 2455 In 18k Yellow Gold With Bracelet And Cartier Dial Signature

Lucie Delaporte, Social Media Manager

Estimate: CHF 10,000 - 20,000

Among the beautiful array of watches at our upcoming Geneva sale in November, one timepiece has truly captured my heart - the Cartier-signed Patek Philippe reference 2455.

What makes it so enchanting to me is its vintage allure and its dual identity, bearing the signatures of both Patek Philippe and Cartier. Its design is simply captivating, and the lavish brick-link bracelet is also signed by the retailer displaying hand-stamped numbers. Crafted in resplendent yellow gold, the 2455 is a striking example of timeless elegance. I'm particularly drawn to the vintage aesthetic of the watch, which has developed a charming patina over time, giving it the distinctive and appealing look that I adore.

Lot 169: A 1952 Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 2455 in 18k Yellow Gold with Bracelet and Cartier Dial Signature. Estimate: CHF 10,000 - 20,000

While Cartier historically retailed Patek Philippe timepieces in their boutiques during the latter half of the 20th century, the partnership has since waned, making Cartier-signed Patek Philippes especially rare and valuable.

This gorgeous watch (lot 169) is also the only known example of the reference 2455 to feature a Cartier retailer signature, making it the perfect choice from the sale, to me!

Lot 21: A 2008 Kari Voutilainen Chronomètre 27 'Unique'

Logan Baker, Senior Editorial Manager

Estimate: CHF50,000 - 100,000

Watches appeal to different people for different reasons. It’s all about aesthetics and sex appeal for some collectors, while many others prefer low-key, function-forward watches. History appeals to some, and hype culture appeals to others. I like to think that my specific flavor of watch enthusiasm incorporates a medley of all the above, but the biggest driver for me, personally, is the amount of academic interest I’m able to take from every watch I see.

And the watch that tickles my scholastic-horological funny bone the most? It has, for a long time, been a small run of oddly shaped wristwatches by Kari Voutilainen. The Chronomètre 27 project combines everything I love about watches and watchmaking in a single captivating package.

Lot 21: A 2008 Kari Voutilainen Chronomètre 27 "Unique." Estimate: CHF50,000 - 100,000

The gist of the Chronomètre 27 is that Voutilainen sourced a small number of new-old-stock antique Longines 360 chronometer movements. The Longines 360 caliber was built exclusively to compete in Observatory chronometer competitions in the late 1950s and throughout most of the ‘60s. The high-beat movement ran at an impressive frequency of 36,000 vph / 5 Hz. With a total of 498 Bulletins de Marche, caliber 360 had the most successful submissions of any wristwatch-sized chronometer caliber in Switzerland between 1959 and 1967!

These remarkable movements had never been cased in an actual wristwatch before – they were solely meant for competition purposes. Voutilainen decided to change that. He disassembled every component in the movement, and meticulously hand-finished each one. He even tweaked the legendary Guillaume balance wheel operating inside, incorporating a Breguet overcoil and Grossmann curve to maintain superlative precision.

The Longines Caliber 360 inside the Kari Voutilainen Chronomètre 27.

The Longines Caliber 360 had a rectangular shape, which meant Voutilainen had to come up with a completely unique case design to house these movements. The result is unlike any case you’ve ever seen before, a remarkable sloping parallelogram with Voutilainen’s signature teardrop-shaped lugs.

There are so many different elements to appreciate – the history, the aesthetic choices, the precision, the list goes on and on. Voutilainen says that 22 examples of the Chronomètre 27 were produced in 18k white and pink gold. What makes the example included in our Geneva catalog (lot 21) extra special is the dial color. It’s the only example to combine white gold with a brown dial rather than grey.

You can learn more, place a bid, and view the entire Geneva Watch Auction: XVIII catalog here.

About Phillips In Association With Bacs & Russo

The team of specialists at PHILLIPS Watches is dedicated to an uncompromised approach to quality, transparency, and client service. Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo holds the world record for the most successful watch auction, with its Geneva Watch Auction: XIV having realized $74.5 million in 2021. Over the course of 2021 and 2022, the company sold 100% of the watches offered, a first in the industry, resulting in the highest annual total in history across all the auction houses at $227 million.

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