For this one, I hopped on the phone with Jonathan Dowling, the head of Skinner’s Clocks and Watches Department. Before we get to the watches, a couple of interesting insights from Mr. Dowling, who’s been with Skinner for more than 15 years:
“Our wristwatches are not being sold to dealers anymore,” Jonathan said. Whereas 10-15 years ago much of his auction’s sales might have been to watch dealers, that’s not really the case anymore. Mostly, they’re being sold to end clients nowadays. This is the case at other auction houses as well.
Since Jonathan’s department oversees pocket watches, wristwatches, and antique clocks, I was curious whether wristwatch collectors were getting interested in antique clocks and pocket watches too. Not really, it turns out. They’re more likely to get involved in other areas of collectibles like furniture and painting than in antique clocks. However, there is some cross-over from pocket watches to wristwatches and vice versa, he said.
Don’t sleep on vintage Squale!
Now, a look at a couple lots from the upcoming auction.
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Heuer Autavia GMT Reference 2446
First up from Skinner’s spring auction is this single-owner Heuer Autavia GMT Mark I Reference 2446 from 1968.
According to Skinner, it comes from the wife of the watch’s original owner, who was an amateur race car driver, pilot, and scuba diver. On the couple’s first date, he even took her flying in a plane that he piloted. He went on to tell her about the Heuer GMT, saying he picked it because "the watch had the ability to serve the needs of all my hobbies."
He continued to wear the watch proudly for a while after that, eventually replacing it with a gold Movado to better fit his role in financial services at the Gillette Company in Boston. Since then, the Heuer has been safely stored away.
Immediately noticeable is the Autavia’s aluminum Pepsi bezel insert, and inside the 40.5m snap-back case ticks a Valjoux 72C. On the Dash’s guide is helpful in evaluating what an Mk1 ref. 2446 should look like. Head to Skinner for the full lot, which has an estimate of $8-12k.
Universal Geneve ‘Disco Volante’ Retailed by Tu¨rler
One more cool little piece. I used to not really understand the attraction of these oddly shaped “disco volante” cases, but having recently played around with one, I totally get it now.
Dowling said this is one of his favorite picks from the auction. He pointed particularly to the original crystal, still intact. “It’s scratched to hell”, but it’s just so big and bold, forming a bubble over the dial, it’s hard not to love (think Rolex Superdome, but on a little gold dress watch with no lugs).
This Universal Geneve 18kt “Disco Volante” (“flying saucer” in Italian) has an estimate of $1,000-1,500. See the full listing at Skinner.
Buyer beware: If you look at some of Skinner’s lots with lower estimates, you’ll see a handful of Rolex and Tudor watches, many of the Bubbleback era, with re-dials. The low estimates reflect this condition, but I’d stay away.
Skinner’s auction runs April 20 through April 29, head to Skinner to check out the entire catalog.
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