Michael Clerizo – TheGeorge Daniels Grand Complication And Other Results From The Phillips Geneva Watch Auction NINE
Wow! $2.4million (£1.869,867) for the George Daniels Grand Complication pocket watch and $451,550 (£353,073) for a yellow gold Anniversary Watch at the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction NINE on 11 May. How would George react? That would depend on his mood. I am sure the results would please him so he might say: Of course the Grand Complication achieved the highest price of any watch at the auction it is a supreme example of the watchmaker’s art. I know because I made it.
If he were feeling generous – which was often the case – I can imagine George saying: The results show how discerning watch collectors have become. Good taste is on the rise, at least in watches.
In either case, his words would be accompanied by a broad smile and a satisfied twinkle in his eye. George was proud of his work and enjoyed knowing that other people appreciated it as well. And, he would be right. The appeal of watches made by independents does seem to be increasing. That development would delight George. Beyond making his own watches his great desire was to encourage others to do the same.
In the decade or so before his death (he died in 2011 at the age of 85) George experienced a large measure of satisfaction with his achievements in horology. His magnificent invention, the co-axial escapement, was by then beating in every Omega watch leaving the factory, the watches he created in his prime were already highly prized by collectors and the Anniversary Watch, made to celebrate the invention of the co-axial, had rapidly sold out. Another pleasure for George was seeing the success of his masterpiece Watchmaking – the definitive book on the subject of how to make a watch by hand using as George always said, ‘antique tools and methods’. I have visited the workshops and the homes of many watchmakers, independents as well as those who work in the highly automated factories of big brands and the ateliers of others who specialise in restoration. During each visit on a workbench or standing on a shelf in a bookcase, I’ll find a well-thumbed copy of Watchmaking. Often young independents will complain that in school they only learned how to service and repair not how to make a watch. For that they need George’s book.
Other watches in the auction showed that independents are one of the ways auction houses are trying to break the long-established duopoly of Rolex and Patek Philippe.
A F.P. Journe dual time Resonance in platinum from 2007 sold for $61,935 (£48,433). During a panel discussion before the auction, Journe again said he started his first watch with a tool in his right hand and Watchmaking in his left hand.
Habring2 scored a big hit with a Habring2 x Massena Lab three-hander in bronze, which sold for $30,968 (£24,216) exceeding its estimate by $23,000 (£17,986).
The always inventive Ludovic Ballouard also impressed with one of his Upside Down watches in platinum that fetched $42,115 (£32,934).
Still, it is fair to ask other than breaking the duopoly what does the arrival of independent watchmakers as a force on the auction scene represent? For me, the success of independents confirms something about George. He did not simply make watches he showed another generation how to do the same.
Images courtesy of Phillips: www.phillipswatches.com