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3 Trends from the Summer Auction Season

by Dana Li

Auction season is always an exciting time, with many amazing watches on display and eager collectors bidding for a chance to add something special to their collections. Results from auctions are also particularly interesting because they can often be indicative of any emerging trends and shifts in the watch market. This past weekend, Christie's, Phillips, and Sotheby's held their bi-annual auctions in New York City, hitting some great results and a few record-breaking sales. Based on the results, here are 3 key trends that emerged during these sales.

Asymmetrical designs are in demand

With the Cartier Crash becoming popular in recent years, there has been an increasing demand for watches with asymmetrical designs. The Exaequo Dali Softwatch, 70’s inspired Pierre Cardin pieces, and the Hamilton Ventura are just some examples of watches that collectors have been eyeing as a result of the renewed appreciation for the Crash. On Friday, Sotheby’s sold an asymmetrical 1960s Patek Philippe reference 3424 designed by Gilbert Albert for over $200,000 (including buyer’s premium), which was well over the watch’s initial $20,000-$30,000 estimate. As collectors continue to look for watches that have non-traditional designs, we’ll likely continue to see more of a demand for asymmetrical watches.

Patek Philippe Reference 3424 Sotheby's Important Watches Auction
Patek Philippe Reference 3424 - Lot 33, Sotheby's Important Watches (Image courtesy of Sotheby's)

Precious stone dials continue to gain popularity

Stone dials have recently made more of an appearance in the modern collections of brands from Rolex to Moser, but they have been incorporated into many unique vintage pieces over the years. Thanks to their captivating look and high level of craftsmanship, stone-dial watches have become more sought-after among collectors. In both of the Phillips and Sotheby’s auctions this past weekend, watches featuring stone dials like malachite and lapis lazuli performed well, selling for higher than their estimates.

Piaget Cuff Bracelet Watch Phillips Watches
Piaget Reference 9850 D50 - Lot 75, Phillips Watches (Image courtesy of Phillips)

Independents still reign supreme

Watches from independent brands have consistently done well during the past few auctions, and this season was no different. Demand for independents continues to remain strong as collectors continue to look toward the independents for one-of-a-kind, well-crafted pieces that showcase some of the best of high watchmaking. This weekend at Phillips, Roger Smith’s career-defining Pocket Watch Number 2 sold for $4.9 million, setting a world record not only for Roger Smith but also for any British timepiece. Pieces from other independents such as De Bethune and FP Journe had strong results as well.

Roger Smith Pocket Watch Number 2 Phillips Watches
Roger Smith Pocket Watch Number 2 - Lot 12, Phillips Watches (Image courtesy of Phillips)


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