November 16, 2018

Geneva Auctions Fall 2018 – My experience

It’s that time of the year again:
Fall is upon us and the auction season is starting to steam full force.
The market is what it is- everybody is talking about watches, everyone wants one, everything is sky rocketing in value.
You know it, I know it, we all see it.

Collectible vintage watches are simple to decipher: they’re never going to be manufactured again, the best condition pieces are the most desirable, the demand is great and the supply, as I just mentioned, is no more.
The specimens with issues such as lacking complete originality or in blemished and let’s go to even mediocre condition are comparably cheap and approachable and there’s a reason why.

The best, well, that you’ll have to pay up for today.

One thing I know for sure: everyone wants the same five references and that’s just because most collectors in the Instagram era aren’t motivated by passion, taste and sophistication but just fueled by the desire to instantly gratify the need to own what the other owns and one man up each other on Instagram.
Find me a new a Roni Madhvani! A new Goldberger! People with a point of view !
All I see is the next guy from Asia competing with the other rich guy from Miami on how crisp is they’re 6263, 5402 A series, they’re 5711/5712 or 3700 or the Pepsi GMT of any iteration. I mean can you have some individuality already? How are you even able to enjoy them to their full potential if you buy a toy every week just to brag and get oohs and aaahs on IG!?

the fresh and the cool

I’m here to bring the fresh and the cool just as when I started selling jumbos 3700 and 5402 5 years ago when nobody gave a damn about them and the fad wasn’t in yet for the “bro, bro “ of the Instagram hype.
(Rant over) 🙂 .

I typically like to fly to Milan first so I can visit my birthplace, refresh my senses and visit some clients, customers and colleagues.
Also the flight is cheaper. Always fly coach ! Always save money if you can in the business! Don’t overspend and charge your clients for it ! I’m all about that value proposition…

Needless to say everyone is drinking the kool aid in Italy when it comes to vintage watches so business is not as easy but a gem is typically uncovered and brought home, one way or another.
Funny type those Italians.

vintage AP is really something else..

Today I’m going to visit my dear colleague Mauricio who I really respect as he tries to have a selection that is based on taste and sophistication not just hype.
The Milan center location is simply mesmerizing and I always look forward to my club soda ice and lime served by the white gloved white uniform wearing butler. Ooh so old world I should start wearing suits again…

 

After that I’ll head to Umberto with whom I share a strong bond and struck quite a few deals through the years. Quite a few deals indeed, back or fro….
Umberto’s pedigree is hard to beat in our industry.

Umberto and his father

 

Federico Verga

 

 

Gianni is my man on the field. A Neapolitan mastiff transplanted in milan. Always good to share a coffee with, maybe buy watch and hear about the latest way to avoid taxes in this fucking country.

Gianni is the man!

 

Now it’s time to have some fun with my friends and family, the tie that bonds us will never fade.

I look forward to taking the train to Geneva and to check all the watches open for bidding this weekend.
Damn I love that scenic ride through the valleys and mountains. I feel like high glancing at all this majestic beauty through the windows and believe me, it’s majestic indeed. Switzerland and lake shore Italy it can’t get more George Clooney than this. I always wish my wife was with me on these occasions. Maybe one day I can do it like Michael Safdie too.

Here we are here we go— Geneva most postcard looking place out there and at the same a place where you could get totally depressed. Let’s focus on the positive i tell myself.


The weather is crisp and there is a certain glow in the air. Man I feel good. Man I love Switzerland. Oh man, look at that lake. Wow..

Geneva what a fucking amazing place. Reminds me of my grandfather Israel Ismael Gohari who used to travel the world for the gemstones and would meet suppliers in places like Geneva..and the old world jewelers bucherer, Gubelin, Golay fils et stahl..
And the legendary 80s and 90s with the Kashmir sapphires and important gemstones auctions… in 2018 the fine gemstones are actually fine watches and here I am.

First stop:
Antiquorum.
500 lots for sale is not a joke and what I love about this auction house is the full selection spanning all sorts of timepieces.
The specialists here are quite candid and I enjoy the office and cozy setting of their alone street retail level showroom.
This time I’ll be spending most of my Sunday in Geneva bidding here instead of drinking the kool aid at La Reserve, if you know what I mean.
I’m hoping I can snatch them Aps and whatever else falls in my net.
I decide to look at whatever lot I’m knowledgeable about because I’m here with the motivation of buying good stuff at good prices and bring it home.
I end up sitting there for 4 hours+ looking at everything interesting or semi interesting and doing my due diligence.
Due diligence is of the upmost importance at these auction previews because it’s easy to get caught in the hype but you really need to make sure the stuff is what you’d expect it to be and,mark my words, it is not in 70% of the cases. There is always a little surprise or a little cosmetic detail that makes the difference in value and condition.
Other friends and colleagues join in and I’m candidly approached by the infamous Orchi of instagram and forum fame (or not ). Interesting character indeed and very personable, I really hope he got over whatever feelings he had towards the industry.
Corrado sits next to me and it is nice to spend the afternoon with friends exchanging experiences and ideas.
I make up my mind about all the viewed lots and I set to myself the limit I’ll go up to have them.
There is one particular piece I really hope to bring home…

a like nos pink gold day date copped at the auction
ended up copping this..it is really ginormous
orchi palar
Julien Shaerrer and Corrado Mattarelli
i got this but we will talk about it more in the future…. it is something extremely special
Jumbo made in 50 pcs only for the italian market with extra dial really cool!

 

My hotel was really nice and comfy and was located a 10 minutes walk from all the action. It was actually located next to the red light district of Geneva so my first walks to my endeavors were quite spicy at first till I figured a kosher route.


Friday morning I was welcomed by a glorious day in Geneva and the walk to the Four Seasons Hotel de Bergues was literally majestic. Blue skies and that shimmer on lake Geneva my heart literally stopped. You can feel God in the air, you really can !
Christie’s here we are let’s see what we won’t take home today ..unfortunately I’m never feeling the magic here I hope we can change that sooner or later.
The Christie’s preview was buzzing with people and their setup extremely luxurious (obviously, we are the 4 seasons!). Lots of nice watches but let’s be honest I won’t be able to buy anything to bring home here.
Michael Safdie joins me for a bit.
The hype there is strong.

an oversize early 20th century beauty under UV light
vacheron 222
royal oak perpetual….

The day of rest is upon me and I retire in my room before sundown with my wine and food, ready to renew my spirit and body.
After a restful Saturday I get messaged by few nice Italian chaps to join in at the Phillips auction.
I haven’t seen the previews nor had really anything I was craving from there but the public relations duty had to be done.
I meet so many friends from all over the world it turns out to be funner than I thought.
Phillips, so much excitement in the room. The auction where no lots ever pass. How do you do it always ? It’s a sell out with Aurel Bacs, he always strikes me as he could be a vampire in his spare time. Look at him carefully he totally fits as a “true blood” character.
Love those scarf wearing choked tanned Italians in the room.
Meeting with Tobias from amsterdam has been a long time plan. Crazy fun minded individuals aren’t easy to find among my colleagues unfortunately most of them are a one trick pony after watches their charm is spent and really boys, you’re no nuclear science professor by checking if it’s a mk1
Or mk2, let’s just have some fun.
I’m also so happy to see James Dowling I really enjoy him.

Cristiano Tonetto and Alessio Zenga..great guys
Davide Halevim… knows me since I am a child

I have a hard time falling asleep as the jet lag isn’t my friend this night and the excitement of what tomorrow’s going to bring keeps me up to the early hours.

William Massena, a good friend!
a legendary table: Jeff Morris, Jeff Harris and James Dowling. Lot’s to learn here…..

I wake up fresh nonetheless and make my way to the Antiquorum big day.
A whole day of bidding and Hotel Kempinsky. I’m ready.
The sun is out, the sky blue, the scenery is out of this world and it’s Sunday in Geneva. I feel blessed.
I sit at the VIP table with William Massena and we follow the lots passing.
I did my homework well here and I’m confident.
It ends being a good day.

Sothebys, with your ever so variable Geneva auction schedule. One time it’s Sunday one time is Monday afternoon and the next time is Tuesday.. can we set a day already?!
But I do feel the magic here and the magic has happened for me so I’m your fan, sotheby.
I spend some serious time viewing all the interesting lots in between the brake at Antiquorum and the lots that really weren’t for me.
I’m welcomed very warmly and the staff is extremely helpful and friendly. I really like this gig.
The late Sunday night cocktail is also welcome…

Adam inspecting the goods..
Ancienne watches and Andrea Mattioli


On Monday the weather is still holding up and it’s Christie’s show day.
All the rat pack is still around and everyone is excited to see what the results will be.
Needless to say this weekend’s undisputed king was the Nautilus in all its iterations, small or big, the bubble is in motion FULL FORCE.
Nautilus flying out in outer space..
I spend my day attempting to bid but most importantly I’m meeting new colleagues and friends who tell me how much they enjoy my Instagram stories.. if you don’t follow me..do.

Jasper Lifjering from Amsterdam Vintage watches, he is probably crazier than I am
Wolf from Rare and Fine

The day ends well but with it starts also the shitty weather and the depressing side of Geneva.
Luckily I’m out the next day taking my train down to Milan.

All bets are done, all hands are shaken and luckily some watches were sold too at the shop while I was away, thank God.

I’m super excited to show you what’s coming.

It’s my daughters birthday today and my flight better be on time. We have a big sushi fest planned.

God bless you all

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