Friday, September 18, 2009

Antiquorum Starts Season Off With A BANG!!!

Antiquorum CEO Evan Zimmerman walked over to me as I was inspecting some watches on the Wednesday preview and with a wink stated "we have more registered bidders than ever". Hmmmmmmmmm.
My mind begins to wander. Everyone who sees me at shows and in NYC like to engage in "market talk". As the self professed "king of market gloom and doom" I am sometimes skeptical of smaller dealers on the street who want me to hear some crap about how they sold a 1501 Date for $2k and expect me to blow it up on my blog and VRF. Maybe they are buried in a few? lol!!
"Real players" lay back in the cut and analyze so I wondered, is this going to be the big market indicator for the season?
I do not know but if yesterday's auction in NYC is any indication of where the market is going, I can only say "WOW"!
There are many ways to get an understanding of how an auction will play out. While sitting at the preview it was clear this was going to be a good one. Lots of people examining watches, pulling them apart, checking serials and casebacks. I was there with my trusty sidekick Viper who loves nothing more than pulling things apart and scrutinizing.
We arrived Thursday morning a bit into the first session, 30 lots in. As I sat down a beaming AQ Chairman Bob Maron walks over tells us the smaller lots in the beginning are doing "extremely well". Nice. Bobby's happy already. That's a good thing.
I was interested in the vintage Rolex, which by all accounts was scarce in this sale on the whole, and big Patek. Lots 93 and 94 go off as expected. Lot 95 then hammers at $7k which IMO is a little strong but not unexpected. Lots 97/98 go the same route. When lot 104 does not hit reserve, I am a little uneasy as it was just so perfect and sold for $100k last year. Then came lot 120, the 5970 Tiff which blew up over $130k+ BC. Lot 140 Breguet clock/watch combo sold for over $500k. By lot 173 the tsunami continued with a nice but ordinary 5513 went for $6k w/buyers commission! Lot 176 Tiffany 1016 was over $6500 w/BC, lot 177 $45k+.
Lot 179 was the killer selling for $84k w/BC. $84k!!!!
Patek lot 216 the "platinum Gilbert Albert" came close to $100k, which really was indicative of most Patek, current or vintage. All sold well which leads me to believe people are looking to plant money somewhere, ANYWHERE, but in the bank and want hard, tangible items with a proven history of value over the long term.
Lot 341 green Milgauss closed at $7200 which is amazing
My personal favorite (lol) lot 343 the Bamford Blackout Daytona closed soft, IMO at around $20k.
Can anyone say PRO-HUNTER???? There is no substitute!
Lots 350 and 351, 5513 mattes, closed in the mid $4k range, with lot 532 coming close to hitting $50k even with many "non Milsub" issues.
My other personal favorite lot 353 the cream 16550 full set closed over $15k. Lot 354 the 1530 full boat also did very well at $8k.
Lot 356, the orange hand, did not hit reserve which is not surprising as there are alot out there and can be had in the $11k range.
Lot 357 held it's own at $27k+ to round up the Rolex.
The big Patek lots were what really brought home the show:
Lot 401 over $74k, lot 402 clost to $400k but lot 413 and 414 hit the higher of their respective estimates at $780k and $680k+.
I must say, as I watch the market daily I did not see the strong "big Patek" numbers coming. They talk about a lack of money but it is apparent people will sock money into something which has a proven track record. Vintage Rolex is still hanging very strong in the auction world too. One observation I made during the day was there are deals to be had at auction and on the street but the "two tier" market is still in play. If you buy right, you can get top dollar at auction and vice-versa. We see deals on 47th and beyond, but these are serious Patek numbers. Some of the "more common Patek" did almost retail+ in many lots.

Patrizzi and Co are next on October 7th. While they may have not many Rolex in their sale, they are counting on higher quality pieces, as opposed to quantity. I am told by insiders that P & Co have lots coming in droves, but Osvaldo Patrizzi is not accepting anything but prime examples, which is refreshing and necessary.
I am very excited to see what happens on October 7th at Patrizzi & Co. Their sale will either solidify the market as real, or show this AQ auction to be a fluke. I am betting the market is coming back strong, but for the mere fact that cash is worth less and less each day. When inflation hits here and around the world, we can always use a red Subbie to trade for groceries!'

One last comment on yesterday's auction is this: Antiquorum had the "buzz" going...AGAIN! You could feel the electricity in the air when you arrived. Though I had to leave a little early I could tell it was going to be very strong w/sales close to $10 million. Not bad in a slumping Obamamerica, huh?
Again, many congratulations to Bob, Evan and the AQ team for a splendid sale and overall top rate event...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ready, Set, Go...the auction season begins!

Well, Summer is behind us and we have the wonderful month of September to look forward to. before we look forward, let's look back at the last two months:
As many remember, June was the last auction month before Summer vacation and both P & Co. and AQ had good turnouts. On 47th street July began slowly for most dealers still reeling from the downturn in the economy. Many were happy to be able to pay their bills. While we began July like all the rest, by mid month it began to pick up, with lots of nice collector pieces coming in daily. One of the highlights was a perfect brown dial red 1680 w/full boat. Needless to say it did not last the afternoon, scooped up by a NYC collector in minutes. There was also an abundance of 1655 over the last 6 weeks, 5 to be exact. Most were standard watches but there was a really nice straight hand in early August. The gilt Subbie and GMT also were popping. I personally traded 2 of each with the nicest being a 5513 4 liner bought at the late July NYC Antique Show for the price of a standard 5513. Nice!
I have also handled a bunch of 1803 Presidents, papered and not, which was unusual as they were trading for strong money.
Normal big gold pieces are way down, with single and double quick Presidents of the "80's-90's variety slipping down to under $6-8k, respectively dealer to dealer. Steel Daytonas are still in play between $7500-$8k, with mint examples higher if papered.
The feeling on 47th street is "regular" dealers are willing to touch vintage as many are holding pieces they thought were good deals at the top of the market but did not sell in time. Thus, they are buried in them waiting for a market upturn...YIKES!
Well, the market is holding, but "sketchy". There are few real collectors looking and when they are, they want top shelf pieces and are willing to pay a premium, for the most part. Standard GMT, 5513 are floundering around $3k dealer to dealer with not many real players for much more. Smaller plastic Datejust/Date models are very soft, in the $1k range. I remember when a $1k date head was a no brainer, but these days the dress parts are not bringing much in the secondary market and the mighty EBay. Let's talk about EBay for a minute. It has become the place to steal stuff but as history has told veteran EBayers, the Summer is not the time to sell there. Lots of parts deals are there to be found but you have to sit on it and many would rather pay more to have it when you need it rather than "snipe" or sit in front of a computer.
One section of the market which is booming is the fake/counterfeit Rolex Sport. I cannot tell you how many fakes are floating around from dealer to dealer. Many are bought by wise ass dealers who think they are getting a steal, only to find they bought a fake w/papers...HEY, that happened to me in early August!!! Yeah, I got my money back but it was a real eye opener. I am a very conservative buyer and was really spooked when this occurred. Real papers w/fake case back and middle, w/dial, hands, bezel all real. Numbers are engraved from a legit set of period papers and VIOLA... dangerous fake floating about.

Enough of this, let's get to the two auctions coming up here in NYC. While there are not a lot of sport Rolex in P& Co. for October, the watches are really clean and above average auction quality. OP has been really selective in choosing mint pieces and rejecting over 50% of the watches/junk that has been submitted. I agree, as many feel they can dump a crap piece on an auction house and buyers will think it to be more than what it really is...crap. Not at P&Co. Things are going well for the new (haha, new?) upstart. They are getting loads of watches and are readying for a strong season. The "no hammer" commission is a wonderful thing and I am happy to see it working. Each watch is being examined by a Rolex certified master watchmaker and given a "once over" to ensure it is running and looking great. This is HUGE for an auction house. One of the real problems with auction houses is when buying one must go by the condition report which will state whether a service is needed or not. Bidding on a watch which has been looked at for big problems is a definite plus and should elevate their game.
Having examined at all the Rolex in the upcoming October auction I can say there are no fakes and each piece looks it's very best.
I also had the privilege of examining all the watches for the AQ September 17th auction. Again, not many Rolex but the ones they have are very nice. One piece that stood out was lot 353 16550 Cream w/full boat. What a beauty!
There were other nice Rolex but my personal favorite watch of the auction was lot 104, the black 6238. OMG, what a killer piece. The other watch I was really digging was not a Rolex but lot 119 Patek Nautalis w/factory baguette bezel. Yeah, I know but what a great watch to wear in the pool!!!
On another note, I have begun filming some of the nicer watches at AQ in order to produce a show highlighting the auction houses and special watches. I am arranging to have some of the biggest collectors/dealers in NYC and abroad as guests which will be a real treat for all.
We have been given clearance by both AQ and P& Co. and will approach the other big NYC houses soon, if they do not approach us first.
All in all, I will say the vintage/high end watch market is still holding on. Many here and abroad want hard items to sink money into and these watches have a proven track history of retaining their value. I am very pleased at how the market held this summer and have very high hopes for the Autumn/Winter auctions.
Stay tuned for some preliminary video which will be coming soon. If there are any dealers/collectors who would like to appear in 2010 episodes please call or email me:

All the best...