An historic auction has just been held in Hong Kong. Amidst a whole range of prestige watch lots, one 43-piece section stood out, attracting a new wave of collectors – and with good reason:
the first auction to be given over to a retailer’s personal collection
the first to cover such a collection in its entirety
an auction with a large proportion of unique and personal timepieces
lots featuring rare watches, some of them unique
results that exceeded initial forecasts by 63%.
Held under the aegis of Phillips and the hammer of Aurel Bacs, the “43 Watches & Encounters – The Laurent Picciotto Collection of Contemporary Watches” auction was unique in many different ways. It’s not unusual in the world of watchmaking auctions for rare timepieces from a whole host of owners to come up for sale, but on this occasion, the entire themed auction came from a single personal collection – that of Laurent Picciotto.
On May 31, Picciotto parted company with all of his timepieces. The founder and CEO of Chronopassion remains a trendsetter who has played a large part in shaping the watchmaking universe over the past 30 years – but now, he’s decided to start over on a whole new collection, with new goals. His personal fame, notably on social media, is without precedent in the watchmaking industry – and gave a considerable boost to the success of the Phillips auction.
The auction was also a first in the world of watches. Many of the 43 lots on offer were unique: prototypes, pieces bearing the number 001, and bespoke items. Some had been coveted for years, and their appearance on the market sparked excitement on the part of many collectors. One such watch was a titanium tourbillon split-second chronograph by Richard Mille: the only one ever made by the manufacture, sold for the best part of US$365,000. In the auction room, bidding was hotly contested by representatives of prospective buyers from 45 countries, spanning every continent. The online auction, meanwhile, attracted ten times more collectors than there were lots available, with over 450 separate logins recorded.
The “Laurent Picciotto” auction was also a first in terms of format: in addition to the timepieces themselves, the offer included many additional lots with connections to all sorts of special moments from the past thirty years of fine watchmaking: designs, dedications, plans, books – and even a unique “Richard Mille” guitar.
“It was the combination of all these different aspects that made this sale really exceptional,” explains Laurent Picciotto. “In addition to the traditional catalogue, I personally spent five days ahead of the auction meeting each of the collectors, from all over the world, who had expressed their interest in this occasion. In addition to contemporary watch-lovers, the event attracted vintage connoisseurs who had immediately grasped the historic nature of the auction – essentially, it was offering collectors’ items of the future. It’s taken us over a year to pull off this success; Phillips’ total commitment to the project alongside me - together with the inimitable Aurel Bacs - has been a key part of that.”