How do you qualify the modern and vintage watch market today?
Marie Sanna-Legrand and Geoffroy Ader: For a few years now, we have observed a very dynamic auction market with strong growth and all-round records, mainly around Patek Philippe and Rolex. These two brands reflect a dynamism observed more widely throughout vintage. In this sector of the market, it clearly appears that certain models or references appear as stars among the brands, such as the Royal Oak by Audemars Piguet, the Nautilus by Patek Philippe or the Daytona by Rolex. The domination of this trio on tomorrow’s market will certainly be confirmed, likewise with a strong desire encouraged by passion.
Where does this passion for modern and vintage watches come from?
Geoffroy Ader: Driven by vintage, modern or contemporary wristwatches, the watch market is a young market with only a few decades to its credit, and whose players are passionate. For almost 25 years my work in this market as a specialist has always been to promote the object and to raise it to the rank of a real objet d’art in its own right. This watch market covers more than five centuries of history and Artcurial is always committed to representing all of its aspects, as evidenced by the results obtained during the sale of the Fondation Napoléon in Paris last December 2019, especially for enamel watches produced for the Chinese market. But the dynamism is concentrated on Important Watches auctions during our sessions in Monaco in January and July.
What is Monaco’s strategic position today?
Marie Sanna-Legrand: Monaco has become in recent years a strong place in the international watch market, and we have decided to organize our specialized auctions there twice a year, in January and July, and our concept le Temps est Féminin a sale dedicated to the world of feminine watchmaking, with which we have become leaders. These two sessions highlight rare, unusual and carefully selected pieces. We are approaching each manufacture to complete our expertise, and thus offer sought after watches. It is this selection and this work of research and expertise that allows us today to establish our reputation, and to live up to market expectations.
Can you give us results that confirm this trend?
Marie Sanna-Legrand: Last January, a Nautilus ref. 3700 was sold for more than €100,000, and thus sees its price multiplied by 2 in 4 years. We take special care to highlight single owner collections in our catalogs, the results are often far beyond the low estimate, last January in the Le Temps est Féminin sale two Patek Philippe watches achieved a record price. Without forgetting Rolex, one of the major players in the market, like this “Comex” ref. 5514 coming directly from the first owner, the diver himself, which sold for €110,500 in this last auction in January. Provenance is very often the essential element that determines the final hammer price.
What is this unique concept, Le Temps est Féminin?
Marie Sanna-Legrand: I proposed this concept in January 2018, to highlight ladies’ watches, hitherto ignored in the watch market; since then this segment of the market continues to grow, and today I can say that we are the leader in this field. For example, the success of the sale dedicated to the Gael & Robert Schwartz Collection, Piaget representatives for South Africa. We have been able to highlight the creation and the magic of Piaget’s Manufacture, with exceptional pieces that were entrusted to us, and obtain results that match the talent of this beautiful manufacture, which gives to Piaget today the market leadership on this niche market segment.
What are the criteria to favor while building up a private collection ?
Geoffroy Ader: Passion is the first criteria! And in my opinion, the starting point of a collector’s adventure is the dream. From my beginnings, this quest for rare watches has always been a driving force, often shared by the community of collectors. An anecdote comes to mind when I think of my beginnings in the auction market : my children often asked me “What are you doing, Dad as a job?” “And I answered them I am a treasure hunter and then I sell them with a magic wand like a magician ... ”. Let’s never lose that state of mind that makes the auction a magical place in which we share a common passion.
What do you think is the future of modern and vintage watch market in the coming months?
Geoffroy Ader: It is not easy to know in the new context that we are going through but only one thing is certain: the passion remains with all collectors. Our role will consist in finding the arguments to reassure that this passion is stronger if we have a vision which goes well beyond the results which will be fluctuating but which will only be the consequence of our collective work to sublimate the watch which deserves all attention necessary to make all collectors dream. To quote Winston Churchill’s famous phrase “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts”. The passion is even stronger today, than yesterday and less than tomorrow.