In the early 90s, watches at auction could only be found among the general objects to come under the hammer at non-specialist sales. We take a look back in time.

Par Joël A. Grandjean / Rédacteur en chef Watchonista
& Ollivier Broto / Contributeur Watchonista

Parutions en anglais sur et dans le magazine Europa Star Time.Keeper & Time.Business

A handful of personalities with a nose for the business, genuine watchmaking enthusiasts and legend builders, came to the fore immediately prior to this period. Osvaldo Patrizzi was one such figure. In 1974, he had already founded the “Galerie d’Horlogerie Ancienne”, an auction house for “wristwatches, clocks and other objets de vertu”, which became Antiquorum SA in 1987. He also subsequently took advantage of the demise of Habsburg Feldman, whose last auction in Hong Kong was back in 1990.

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Dr. Helmut Crott, vénéré collectionneur, fondateur en 1974 de Dr. Crott Auctioneers.

The other leading figure was Dr. Helmut Crott, an expert collector somewhat eclipsed by the much-hyped Osvaldo Patrizzi. He is nevertheless one of the visionaries to whom the industry owes so much today. Originallythe founder of Dr. Crott Auctioneers in 1974, he embodies a German tradition, which, at the time, was just as, if not more, important than that of Geneva. He still owns what purists consider to be the largest Patek Philippe database for old watches. A reliable tool, which continues to be regularly updated and consulted to this day, listing all the product references with their sales scores and which is based on a system that relies on trace- ability and exhaustive documentation. The information con- tained therein proves just how independent of stock market developments these pieces have been in terms of investment and legacy value over the last 25 to 30 years.

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