Friday, June 19, 2009

Auction Houses and Transparency

An interesting thing happened the other day. Antiquorum pulled two questionable lots from their Hong Kong auction. While lot 370 was an easy target, lot 413 also was taken off the block as it could not be confirmed as 100% correct. Yes, I know there was a post on VRF the other day slamming AQ regarding lot 370 but after meeting with Evan Zimmerman, AQ CEO, both lots were going to suffer the same fate regardless. It is as I said with lot 198 in P & Co's auction, even though there are many people who handle these watches, sometimes they make it through and get into the catalog. Preparing for a catalog shoot is a wild event, as I can personally attest to. The main thing is both these bad lots are not going to be offered to the public. AQ has a huge operation with many staff members all over the world, and while I am not making any excuses, I can understand how a watch can get past their experts.
You know, when I started my transparency crusade with the auction houses I was not sure how they would take it. Remember these people are there to sell "other peoples" watches. I am pleased at how receptive P & Co and AQ have been, and how quickly they have taken action when something questionable is brought to their attention. Evan and I spoke at great length regarding authenticity and accountability. He is also determined to make sure there are no questionable watches going to auction and assured me he would do all in his power to see it does not happen in the future. I believe him.
I think this blog has a powerful voice and of course, I am always open to suggestion with regard to it's improvement. My goal over the summer is to establish relationships with the other auction houses in NYC Christies, Sothebys and Bonhams, so they too will understand there are many people out there who have an interest in quality and authenticity. I think the auction world is evolving for the better. I am much more comfortable buying and selling as I hope some of you are. If we continue to hold the auction houses accountable, they will raise the bar higher and higher, thus bringing us better and better watches to enjoy!


Friday, June 12, 2009

Antiquorum leads the charge...

Well, it is official. AQ put any talk of a market slowdown to rest with a strong turnout yesterday in NYC. They did almost 6 million in sales and have solidified their standing as the "World's Premier Watch Auctioneer".
I was in the Lincoln Tunnel when I was called to bid on the first lot and I was out bid before I saw the light of Manhattan. This was a sign of what was to come as the day progressed. I was very under the weather as Jo and James have been fighting some kind of bug, but Rolex held strong in the first session with these highlights:
Lot 104 Tiffany 16550 Cream w/bill of sale @ $17.4k hammer + commission
Lot 106 6263 w/RC dial @ $54k hammer + commission
Lots 107-110 were strong for current pieces
Lot 205 6262 was right @ $21.6k hammer + commission
Lot 207 6263 Fuerza @ $46.8k hammer + commission
Lot 208 16520 "patrizzi" went wild @ $36k hammer + commission
and so on...
Patek and other non Rolex "heavy" watches were very strong across the board. The McQueen stuff was unreal with the highest prices paid for a Heuer and 5512 !
OK, now that the stats are in the book, let's talk about the unmentionables. As you all know I have been leaning closer to the auction world lately for various reasons. Having been at both Patrizzi and AQ over the last week i have to say there was a definite "buzz" in the AQ room that was not present at P & Co. Look, my job is to be as honest and impartial as possible. Even though I have associated myself with P & Co. as their "Rolex expert", AQ drew far more people and brought higher numbers. True, AQ had 125 more lots than P & Co. but AQ pulled strong Rolex numbers where P & Co did not. Now we all know P & Co. is a new house, but OP himself is leading the charge and quite frankly I believed his presence would create the aura of "the new AQ". Not yet, maybe next time.
This AQ auction along with Christies and Bonhams have made it quite clear that the high end watch market is strong, as long as you sell in a room full of maniacs with the same common goal. Vintage has a real draw for many of us, but also the heavy non Rolex market is doing quite well.
I think we will buy well over the next few months and as I already predicted, the bottom of the market will be here by September. Right September. We are not out of the woods yet. Just look at the stuff available online and how good some of the pricing is. I see good deals on 47th street regularly, but real buyers are not easy to find so we go to the auction houses.
I think we need to still be careful and buy right. Modern stuff has stabilized, but vintage is all based on condition and pricing.
This summer will be a great time to buy, so load up and buy right!


Friday, June 5, 2009

Patrizzi Auction June 4th, 2009

As you all now, the Patrizzi & Co auction was held in NYC for the very first time. There was a good vibe in the room when I arrived by lot 15. I was told upon entering, the Omega were doing really well and pulling strong numbers. I had faith that Rolex would do the same. I was very wrong.
While some benchmark Patek like the 5070 in white did well in the low-mid $50's, many Rolex lots pulled lower than expected numbers. Here are some low lights, I mean highlights!
Lot 99 18k Yachtmaster w/MOP ruby dial @ $10.5
Lot 156 bakalite GMT did not sell for $20k
Tudor was lower across the board, except for the turn-o-graph day date.
Lot 200 pointed 5512 w/4 line underline swiss dial sold for $12k
Lot 217 1655 orange hand did not sell for $11k
Lot 154 my DRSD did not sell @ $30k...THANK GOD!!!!!!
and so on and so forth.
What did sell were no name chronographs, Omega and Patek.
I am a little concerned that P & Co. did not pull much out of their rolex. It may be that there was really not much to get excited over but that said, there were 2 Newmans that sold for $50k and a little over $50k.
The days of Rolex flying out are not here, at least not on 57th and Madison. I am really serious to see what happens next week at the Antiquorum sale. They have some nice stuff and if numbers are down for Rolex then we are in for a long summer.
There were some "flukes" like an 18k 1675 w/papers which sold for $30k and a 1601 in solid gold @ $4700.00
Crazy!!! I cannot say if this a real sign that the US economy is starting to tighten it's grip but overseas auctions seemed to pull stronger numbers.
I will say it was nice to know there were no fakes being sold "by mistake". I bought a really nice Patek and while I did bid on many Rolex, I was not comfortable going too high as this market is a little "strange".
next week I will be back for Christies but more important AQ which will really tell us what we have to look forward to...or dread!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

LOT 198 is pulled from the sale, Patrizzi stands behind quality.

As many have seen after reading my previous post, I was a little unsure if P & Co were really going to do things differently or if it would be just "more of the same". Well, I have to say they are really committed to weeding out anything bad or questionable in order to provide ONLY high quality stuff for those who are interested.
Case in point, lot 198.
This was a really wild story, as I posted below. I did not see this watch for some reason when I was doing the regular inspection. In going through a watch sleeve, I noticed a bad bracelet and subsequently, a fake DRSD. For me, it was so painfully obvious that it was a complete "Vietnam" fake with nothing real but the 1570 movement. When I pointed this out to the staff, Osvaldo was overseas so I took the piece over to Ed Faber at his location to show him. While it was apparent the dial was fake, I kind of got the feeling that Ed was not convinced the case and the rest was wrong. I left it in his hands. Last week the catalog came out and I was not surprised it was still in there, taking up 2 pages! If you check, I posted about it on May 19th and knew the catalog was already at the printer so I figured I would alert anyone who would see it and tell them to stay away! Well, when I went over to check out the preview yesterday Osvaldo himself walked up to me and sincerely thanked me as everyone had handled that watch and did not catch on. He then told me that when he was made aware, he personally examined the watch again and weighed the components, only to confirm the case was counterfeit. I know, some of you are saying "how did this get past everyone"?? Well, as I stated, auction houses are in the business to sell watches and as I am sure when you look at other houses many bad pieces get in mainly because they do not have qualified people (or interested people) willing to stand up and say something is wrong. Think about it, this watch WILL sell for $25k and up, and these places work on commission...need I say more?
The watch is off the block and will be returned to it's owner who may or may not know it was counterfeit when they submitted it. I really feel as though Patrizzi & Co could have gone either way, maybe just say the dial is refinished and let it run and take the money, but that is not the case. OP and I spoke for a good while about honesty and transparency. I truly believe this company is going to set a high standard.
I really feel better about this whole thing.
Yes, there are a still some differences between tuscanyrose and P & Co, but I feel all of this can be worked out.
lol! By this I mean Philip Poniz introduced himself to me (he is a really nice person) and, lot 198 in hand, asked me to show him (and one of their "watch experts") how I can tell so quickly that it is fake.
Professor TUSCANYROSE????
I don't think so. Not yet, if you know what I mean. Many of you know me and know I do what I do for many reasons. I was asked to help, and I did. You all also know me as a raging capitalist!!! Get my drift???
So let's just say they were blessed on this auction. We will be discussing my future "position" after the auctions end this spring.
Will I really "pick sides"? I do not know, but I will say I like that these folks are truly serious about making P & Co. the biggest watch auctioneers in the world. They can and will take it to AQ, which will only be good for collectors and dealers alike.
Tomorrow is the big auction and I am feeling comfortable.
This is a good thing.
News at 11...