Want to dabble in high-end watch auctions but lack the cash? FutureGrail may have the solution Want to dabble in high-end watch auctions but lack the cash? FutureGrail may have the solution

Want to dabble in high-end watch auctions but lack the cash? FutureGrail may have the solution

Luke Benedictus

Let’s face it. For most of us, who don’t work in finance or have somehow failed to win the lottery (so far) or be fathered by a particularly indulgent Sheikh, reading about watch auctions is a form of fantasy window shopping. “Hmm,” you nod to yourself approvingly when reading about the platinum Rolex Yacht-Master that was sold by Monaco Legend Auctions’ Exclusive Timepieces auction over the weekend for US$2.625 million. “Someone snagged themselves a total bargain there, given it’s a one-off Rolex with a unique dial colour and was once owned by Patrick Heiniger…”

FutureGrail

But really this is a pointless form of horological voyeurism isn’t it? Because I suspect you didn’t have a spare US$2.625 million lying around. And so, sadly, despite your extraordinary depth of knowledge that comes from being a lifelong watch nerd, you’re unable to leverage this wisdom in a big-hitter watch auction because, frankly, you don’t have the cash. Well, it turns out there may be another way into this world with the launch of FutureGrail, which calls itself the “premier investment advisory firm for high-end watches”. That’s because among the Singapore outfit’s various services, which include a watch museum and a tax-free storage facility, FutureGrail are offering the world’s first all-online auction of high-end timepieces with both traditional and on-chain fractionalised watches.

Don’t worry, I wasn’t sure what a “fractionalised auction” was either. Luckily, FutureGrail explain more in their press release’s appendix:

“This innovative approach allows individuals to bid on owning a fraction of an item, rather than purchasing the item in its entirety, providing a more accessible and flexible investment option. Fractionalised auctions are already popular in the art world, but this is the first time the concept is being applied to the timepiece auction market. To ensure the highest level of transparency and security, all high-value items in the FutureGrail Fractionalised Auction will be digitally recorded on a blockchain ledger, with NFTs provided to deliver irrefutable digital proof of ownership and transparent tracking of ownership and provenance. This ground-breaking approach reinforces FutureGrail’s commitment to offering cutting-edge solutions and services to its clients in the fast-evolving world of alternative asset investment.”

It sounds like FutureGrail will have very serious timepieces on offer, too. The advisory form was founded by Ali Nael (above), a native of Beirut, who movied to Singapore in 2010 to establish his oil trading business headquarters and subsequently launched numerous trading businesses based in China and Malaysia. Nael is a specialist collector of Patek Philippe timepieces and is sufficiently passionate on the subject to author a book on the brand entitled My Dream Collection. His collection of over 200 historical pieces, dating back to 1800 is the foundation of the new FutureGrail Watch Museum, that opened to the public in Singapore this week.

Nael and his business partner Mohsin Rizvi (pictured above), want FutureGrail to assist both new and experienced watch lovers in every aspect of their collecting journey. In that task, they’ll be aided by their historian Arnaud Tellier (below), who’ll take up the role of FutureGrail’s Head of Curation. Tellier was previously head of the Patek Philippe Museum for 11 years and so brings serious expertise to the table.

Whether or not, FutureGrail’s fractionalised auctions will actually lower the bar to entry when it comes to high-end horology remains to be seen. Presumably, the cost of buying even a fraction of one of these pieces is unlikely to be peanuts. Still, as an enterprise that seeks to make such auctions more accessible it seems like a promising idea and one that’s backed by genuine passion.

FutureGrail is currently open to the public until the end of the week, enabling visitors to explore the collection of timepieces on display, meet the industry experts, and discover the firm’s various services. If you’re interested in attending, you can register to visit the facility and museum online here.