‘Omegamania’ Auction Sets Records in Geneva, Basel

Omegamania,” the auction of 300 rare Omega watches in Geneva, Switzerland, generated more than 6.5 million Swiss francs (almost $9 million), selling all 300 lots for three times their presale estimates. The auction, held Saturday and Sunday, had generated great interest among watch collectors and enthusiasts around the world. It was organized by Antiquorum, the leading horological auctioneers and was the first thematic sale devoted solely to Omega.

Several world records, including the highest price ever paid at auction for a self-winding wristwatch, were set. That was for a platinum Constellation Grand Luxe from 1953, which went to a Swiss bidder for 413,700 Swiss francs (almost $560,480) after fierce competition from bidders in Italy and Japan.

Omega refurbished all the timepieces pre-auction and provided a two-year warranty on each lot, a first in the auction world.

The auction made history in another way. Antiquorum, which conducts live auctions with simultaneous bids coming from the room, online or  telephone, for the first time in public auction history accepted bids via satellite from the international watch fair BaselWorld in Basel, Switzweland.

Hundreds of people at BaselWorld gathered on the weekend afternoons around three huge screens (which showed each lot and the action in Geneva) in the Swatch Group Plaza (Omega is owned by the Group) to bid or view the proceedings.

In all, some 48,500 people around the world followed the auction via Internet link, with one third of the lots sold online.

The Seamaster Planet Ocean worn by Daniel Craig during the filming of the newest James Bond thriller, “Casino Royale,” was one of the most sought-after Omegas. It went to a British buyer for 250,250 Swiss francs ($339,018). The tension in the auction rooms was high as the bidding for it intensified between room, phone, and online bidding. Many lots doubled, tripled, or made 10 times their presale estimates. Two original Omega Speedmasters, the watch that became the first model worn on the moon, were sold for 30 times more than the current retail price.

“We are extremely happy at the outcome of the auction, which exceeded all our expectations,” said Stephen Urquhart, president of Omega. “It has shown all watch fans the fantastic richness and scope of the Omega brand and its heritage. Today’s auction will remain as a milestone in Omega’s history.”

The two-day auction capped a two-month world tour of the watches. The “Omegamania” story was also covered by major broadcasters around the world.