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Well, a Green Dial Nautilus 5711 just sold for $390k+
John Mayer on collecting; actually interesting lots from Monaco; what watch is Kanye wearing?
Auction highlights; John Mayer on collecting; a reluctant report on the public sale of a green dial Nautilus 5711; what watch is Kanye wearing now? Rescapement is a weekly newsletter about watches. Subscribe to get it in your inbox:
Nowadays, I start my perusal of every single Antiquorum auction by searching my two favorite words, “White Star,” the unofficial brand of Rescapement.
If you’ll recall, I wrote about the brand back in January. It all started last November, when Antiquorum sold a couple new old stock (NOS) White Star lots for about 5x their estimates. The watches were certifiably cool, especially the Diagrafic, with the weird coronavirus-looking thing at 12 o’clock that indicates the day of the week. It’s a weird and wonderful complication, unlike anything I’d ever seen before. That NOS Diagrafic ended up selling for CHF 11k.
Soon after, another White Star Diagrafic — this one a little worse for the wear — showed up at Antiquorum’s next auction in January. While it didn’t perform as well as those November lots, it still pulled in nearly CHF 7k, not bad for a brand no one had ever cared much about three months earlier.
Well, at today’s Antiquorum Monaco auction, White Star is back! Another Diagrafic is up for sale in today’s sale.
This one’s not exactly NOS either — it’s hard to find vintage watches in good condition — and it also doesn’t feature a solid 18k gold case like those first couple examples did (the case here is gilded). The estimate matches these significant downgrades, just CHF 2-4k.
As I wrote back in January, that first NOS White Star wasn’t collectible because it was a White Star. If anything, it was collectible despite the generic name on the dial. It was collectible because of the interesting complication and pristine, NOS condition. See below for more on how “condition trumps rarity.”
Collectors often get so tied up with names on dials — it makes sense, it’s an easy shortcut to perceived quality and collectibility. But, it’s just that: a shortcut. No sequence of letters printed on the dial is a substitute for a watch that’s NOS, unpolished, or otherwise in pristine condition, no matter the brand.
Speaking of weird and wonderful complications. Also up for auction at Antiquorum Monaco today is this Players Sport Watch, featuring four sub-counters designed to allow a soccer referee to keep track of each team’s goals and corners. Antiquorum says it’s in NOS condition, with the hangtag still attached to the buckle. Omega’s Soccer Timers weren’t having all the fun creating quirky complications for the sport, it turns out.
It reminds me a bit of the Cartier Pasha Golf, which has a similar function to allow for keeping track of your golf foursome’s strokes.
As mentioned, what made that original White Star lot so attractive were a few things: a weird, unique complication; condition, namely NOS condition; and an otherwise unknown brand name. If you’re looking for a watch in this week’s Monaco auction that meets all these criteria, this might be it (though, I’m not sure who really needs four sub dials that count to 24 on a day-to-day basis). Not to mention, it’s fairly large, features fancy lugs, and it’s got an estimate of just EUR 1,400-2,700. See lot 214 here.
Ugh, fine. I’ll give you the “headline.” I tuned into the livestream of today’s Antiquorum Monaco Auction just in time to watch the green dial Nautilus ref. 5711 hammer for EUR 320k ($390k). Bids came from across the world before the watch was eventually taken by a bidder in the room.
Buyer’s premium plus any VAT means the all-in on this 5711 is $400k+. I’ll stick to my White Stars, thank you very much!
Other. This catalog also reminded me that Omega made a confusing limited-edition ‘57 Speedmaster for Rory McIlory before Rory retired from professional golf (sub dials to look like golf spikes? Really?). Since young lad Collin Morikawa is also an Omega ambassador and seems to have a particular affinity for the ‘57 Speedmaster, I hope Omega does him better than they did Rory when the inevitable Morikawa Moonwatch comes.
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Auctions: Past, present, and future
A great report from Revolution on the current state of auctions, in addition to where they’ve been and where they might be going. As always, Eric Wind brings it home with a key insight:
“‘It was only 10 years ago that Christie’s sold a vintage Rolex for over $1m for the first time. Since then, there have been at least 30 more watches that have sold for over $1m at auctions and many more that have traded privately above the same amount. This, I would say, is the biggest change in auctions then and now,’ says Eric Wind, owner of Wind Vintage. ‘Newer buyers are specifically looking for condition and originality in sportier steel watches. For example, the Patek Philippe reference 570 in steel with Breguet numerals that was recently sold by Phillips for CHF 3.3m is not a unique watch. It was essentially seen as a beautiful watch in a large size, and it sold for twice the value of the reference 1415 HU in platinum. Of course, everyone loves having a unique watch, but a beautiful watch in great condition is considered more important than rarity these days. As I often tell groups when speaking about vintage watches: condition, condition, condition trumps rarity, rarity, rarity.’”
👉 Read the full report here
The universe in a glass of water
Daytona collector John Mayer released an album last week. As always with Mr. Mayer, the press tour leading up to the album’s release provides just as many interesting soundbites as the album itself. His interview with Zane Lowe is a fascinating listen. This clip about his song-writing process seems to hint at his collectors’ mentality too:
"Whenever I want to write a big song, I can’t. That’s when I get writer’s block because I try to get the song to fill the entire galaxy. But when I write a song about something the size of a glass of water, and I do it right, I notice a week later it’s got the universe in it. So I’d rather have the universe in a glass of water than try to make a glass of water fit in the universe. And that’s why I stay home a lot instead of go to dinners, because everyone’s trying to fill the universe with with one glass of water, and I go, ‘listen we could have a better time if we picked out a microscopically small detail and worked that for an hour or two.’”
Through the Wire
Big Seiko Pogue fans here, so excited to see the brand drawing on the community to bring it back, so to speak. Bill Murray shows how to pair Timex with Cartier. Finally, disappointed that this version of Kanye (album Friday!) doesn’t seem to be interested in watches…
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