One of the biggest events of the year for watch enthusiasts is coming up fast: the May Geneva Watch Auctions, taking place May 13–15. For years, the big auction houses — Phillip’s, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Antiquorum — have hosted a weekend of vintage watch buying and selling in Switzerland’s second biggest city, with other retailers come to show off their own wares, as well. “It’s like the Super Bowl for watch collectors,” said Eric Wind, a watch specialist for Christie’s. “There’s so much business done on the side as well as in the auction room…over one thousand watches change hands.”
Obviously, the best possible way to experience the event is to see it in person and try on the watches (especially if you drop over 100 grand on a rare Rolex), but all the auction houses allow you to participate from the comfort of your own home by bidding online or over the phone. If you’ve been desperately wanting a well-vetted vintage watch, now is your chance. To help, we’ve gathered some of our favorite timepieces at varying price points from Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillip’s. [Note: Antiquorum doesn’t appear to be attending this year, though we’ve reached out for more information. – Ed]
Christie’s Rare Watches and a Rolex Afternoon
A good portion of Christie’s catalog is made up of more affordable chronographs, though there are some icons we expect to see go for massive chunks of money (a “previously unknown” Paul Newman Daytona is one of them).
Sotheby’s Important Watches
Made up of many not-quite-vintage watches from the 1990s and 2000s, this is where you’re likely to find a good deal. That isn’t to say, though, that there aren’t plenty of great offerings from the middle decades of the 20th century — but either way, Sotheby’s estimates indicate you can find a good amount of watch for your money here.
Breitling Chronograph with Calendar and Moonphase Est. $3,047–$5,078
Audemars Piguet 20th Anniversery Royal Oak Est. $5,585–$7,617
Rolex Milgauss With “Exclemation Point” Est. $60,932–$91,399
Phillip’s Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE
There’s a great deal of mid-century tool watches here from brands like Omega, Rolex, Zenith, Jaeger-LeCoultre and tons more. The point: this is where you’ll find the serious grail items.