Three highlights to keep an eye on in Zurich auction of rose-gold only watches Three highlights to keep an eye on in Zurich auction of rose-gold only watches

Three highlights to keep an eye on in Zurich auction of rose-gold only watches

Zach Blass

In the eyes of the larger watch marketplace, steel is the king. As a more entry-priced metal, with qualities highly suited for daily wear, it makes sense that the majority of watch buyers are drawn to these pieces. But today, with steel being all the rage, a bit of an ironic dilemma has arisen. While more affordable at retail, those with deeper pockets have much greater access to these high-demand timepieces – having the financial capacity to earn the favour of authorised dealers or even the brands themselves. In the eyes of some, this phenomenon has polluted the integrity of watch collecting, with a greater focus on “hype” steel watches instead of precious metal or high horology. Today, however, Zurich auction house Ineichen has decided to go against the herd by hosting an auction with zero stainless-steel pieces in the catalogue. Dubbing the auction “La Vie en Rose”, Ineichen presents an interesting twist for bidders – curating only rose-gold lots in the catalogue.

A bit of background on Ineichen

While you may be more familiar with auction houses like Phillips and Christies, Ineichen holds the title of being the oldest auction house in Switzerland with a focus on wristwatches. Founded in 1973 by Peter A. Ineichen, the goal of the house has always been to promote the history of chronometry through the curation of clocks and watches. Its expertise was soon recognised when it was notably entrusted with the world-renowned collection of the Hellmut Kienzle watch museum in 1975. In 2017, after the company changed hands, Ineichen began to refine its mission, striving to become more competitive in the modern marketplace. This new strategy led to the development of their very own in-house live bidding platform, launched in 2021, which hosted the sale of the world’s most expensive horological NFT token: the Konstantin Chaykin’s Joker NFT Fr. 52080. Ineichen also set five world records at their sale of rare timepieces in November 2021. Three were for F.P. Journe wristwatches and two were for Vianney Halter pieces.

Their effort to distinguish themselves from the “big-three” houses, through a primary focus on independent watchmakers, has proven a huge success for Ineichen, with their sales increasing by a margin of 370% between 2020 and 2021 (2.55 million CHF in 2020 vs. 12 million CHF in 2021). It is this very success that prompted Ineichen to continue to distinguish themselves through their curations, leading them to kick off 2022 with the sale of up to 50 timepieces with a strict rose-gold theme.

Three watches to keep an eye on

Ineichen

While there is a notable absence of what some perceive as “hype watches”, with no Daytonas, Royal Oaks or Nautilus pieces present, Ineichen is confident they will continue their record-breaking streak. Of the 50 watches, I have decided to highlight three: a record contender, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and a sleeper I am reluctant to share because I kind of want it myself.

The record-contender: F. P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance Sincere Limited Edition

Any F.P. Journe watch is desirable and, with their small production numbers each year, the demand far excels the supply. There is not a single watch the independent manufacture makes that does not command a serious premium on the secondary market, even the quartz Elegantè going for multiples of its retail value. In the auction world Journe watches invariably perform well, collectors really digging into their bank accounts to score the brand’s timepieces. One highly sought-after model is the Chronomètre à Résonance, a watch with two escapements that, due to their proximity, achieve the physical phenomena of resonance and run synchronously at the same frequency. Few watchmakers have been able to design a wristwatch with a twin movement and resonance effect, making it both a technical marvel and incredibly rare.

But this is not just any F.P. Journe Résonance watch, this is the Chronomètre à Résonance Sincere Limited Edition No. 202-RN – one of only 10 pieces created for Singaporean retailer Sincere Fine Watches. Black dials are typically reserved for the brand’s boutiques, known as “Black Label Collection” editions, but F.P. Journe created 10 pieces with black mother of pearl dials for Sincere Fine Watches. Any Journe has the potential to amass very high bids at auction, but this exceedingly rare piece has that much more potential thanks to its limited number – commanding the highest estimate of the catalogue: CHF 300,000. It will likely go for much more.

The wolf in sheep’s clothing: Girard-Perregaux Tourbillon Hours of the World

Ineichen

When you quickly glance at the above image of the Girard-Perregaux Tourbillon Hours of the World ref. 99350-52-211-BACA, what initially registers is a classic world-time design. A world timer by horological definition is certainly complicated, therefore I am not accusing this 43mm x 13.5mm rose gold watch of being simple. But its white dial and complication is not unheard of, many manufacturers have realised such a design. So why a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”? Well the expression connotes a person or thing that appears benign but is really hostile. Of course the watch is not hostile, but I use the expression because while the watch may appear plain at first glance, when you flip the watch over you’ll find an intricately designed and finished tourbillon caliber.

If you caught the tourbillon text on the dial, then even if you had not read the full name of the watch you would have picked up on the top-tier complication. But even more alluring than it being a manually wound tourbillon calibre is its design. For those who follow the brand, you are likely familiar with their “Three Bridge” timepieces which are open-worked so you may see the architecture from the dial side. Here, however, such a visual delight is only unveiled when you look through the exhibition caseback. Each of the three hand polished and chamfered bridges are fashioned in rose gold, like the case, and the overall resulting aesthetic  is superbly clean and stunning. This watch is the definition of a subtle flex.

The sleeper I am reluctant to wake you up to: Daniel Roth Académie Ellipsocurvex Papillon

Ineichen

Outside of the watch community, the name Daniel Roth may not have the same star power as Rolex or Patek Philippe. But those who really know their watches are aware of the accomplished watchmaker, and the brand’s purchase by Bulgari. You may have came across our coverage of the Bulgari Octo Roma Central Tourbillon Papillon back in September, when it debuted at Geneva Watch Week. And if you did, then you would already be aware that the retracting Papillon hands mechanism is a Roth design. This Daniel Roth Académie Ellipsocurvex Papillon ref. 318.Y.50 was a limited edition of 210 pieces. introduced in 2005, after the brand was purchased by Bulgari but before they stopped producing watches under Roth’s name. While it is not a tourbillon, it is still a curious and complex watch with a jump-hour mechanism, central running seconds, and retrograde minutes mechanism with retracting Papillon butterfly hands.

The fact it is not a tourbillon, and realised in more classic and compact dimensions of 41mm x 13.55mm x 44mm, are likely factors in its more approachable estimate. Then again, Daniel Roth pieces across the board are undervalued and present real horological value-propositions to the savvy collectors who keep their eye out for them. But the range of CHF 8,000 (low estimate) to CHF 10,000 (high estimate) is both unbelievable and incredibly alluring. Assuming the bidding does in fact fall in that range, whoever scoops this piece up will have likely acquired the steal of the auction. With its distinct and elegant hand-finished rose-gold case, attractive calibre, and intriguing papillon mechanism, personally this Daniel Roth Académie Ellipsocurvex Papillon ref. 318.Y.50 has caught my eye more than any other piece in the catalogue. Indeed, I am already kicking myself for drawing its attention to you all.

The Ineichen “La Vie en Rose” auction will take place in Zurich and online on March 12th, 2022. You can learn more information by clicking here.