In less than an hour bidding is scheduled to begin on the Patrizzi & Co. Auctioneers “IMPORTANT COLLECTORS’ POCKET WATCHES, WRISTWATCHES AND CLOCKS & ONE OWNER COLLECTION OF VINTAGE HEUER WRISTWATCHES” Auction. The catalog consists mainly of a collection of vintage Heuer (using the term loosely) watches that formerly belonged to a single collector in Europe.
However, the collection included a number of pieces with varying authenticity problems, leading one to speculate that the original collector had either been prone to creating personalized custom “Frankenwatches” to suit to his own whims, or else had been given some very bad advice along the way.
In the days leading up to the sale, Patrizzi & Co. actually took the unusual step of pulling quite many lots from the catalog after seeking input from knowledgeable collectors when some glaring problems came to light. Many of the most grossly problematic auctions were pulled outright.
I’m of two minds about this development. On the one hand, the cynic in me wants to say that there’s no reason some of these shouldnever have made into the catalog in the first place, when the most cursory inspection
should have revealed some glaring flaws like a Desotos chrono in which the logo had simply been painted over and a spurious Heuer badge added to the dial.
On the other hand though, I feel I should give Patrizzi and Co. some credit. Although ideally they might have sought expert opinion first, at least they had the sense to pull some of the most problematic results rather than simply proceeding to auction. A number of auctioneers in the recent past have proceeded to sale even in the face of glaring problems, so this is at least a minor improvement. Of course, the motivation for such could well be a matter of simple self-preservation as well since Patrizzi & co. does offer an authenticity guarantee, but sometimes we just have to take what we can get.
I don’t really have the expertise necessary to properly evaluate many of the lots. Vintage Heuers are mostly among the things that I can respect and admire, but my collecting interests and budget usually get prioritized elsewhere and I eventually sold all the Heuers I’ve owned. However, I do have enough knowledge to say that both of the 1970s West German Air Force Heuer Bund chronographs (lots 100 and 101) look fine to me, at least from what I can see from dial-side only photos. Lot 100 looks like it might have a more recent but correct replacement or relumed sweep second hand, but nothing to get excited about. The estimates seem pretty high (roughly 2x market) but some degree of optimism or overpayment is perhaps de rigueur in the high-end auction world.
For more details and insight ass well as rolling updates of the auction results, be sure to check out the reporting at Calibre 11.