Patrizzi & Co.’s First Auction brings in $5.5M

The first auction of Patrizzi & Co., founded by veteran watch auctioneer and expert Osvaldo Patrizzi, took in more than $5.5 million.

The total figure from Thursday’s auction in Geneva, Switzerland, reflects the amount paid by purchasers, says the company, because Patrizzi & Co doesn’t charge commissions from buyers. Forty-seven percent of the 1,100 lots were sold.

Highlights included sale of an extremely rare 18k gold and enamel 1817 Breguet “equation of time” pocket watch, with mean and true solar time, manual perpetual calendar, and moon phases, sold to a Swiss private museum for $913,440; a rare tonneau-shaped automatic Patek Philippe, with retrograde perpetual calendar, moon phases and leap year indication, sold for $456,720; and a Vacheron & Constantin, made in only 10 examples in 1930, sold for $95,496. (To download the online catalogue visit, www.patrizziauction.com.)

18k gold and enamel 1817 Breguet “equation of time” pocket watch (left) and a rare Vacheron & Constantin.

More than 200 people attended the innovative sale—integrating a traditional auction room with online Internet live bidding—which had four simultaneous sessions in adjacent auction rooms. Several participants followed all four sessions on their laptops.

However, attendees’ enthusiasm didn’t translate into as many bids as expected because, said Patrizzi & Co., “many present were there more to see how the new system would work than to bid.”

In addition, because of “some technical glitches,” the new Internet bidding system “didn’t function as intended,” said the company. “We had thought the technology was capable of helping the auctioneer manage the auction,” said Osvaldo Patrizzi, “but we found that in this case it imprisoned the auctioneer and that created several problems for us during the sale.”

Because the company needs to rebuild its Internet bidding platform and insure it functions correctly, Patrizzi & Co. has postponed its scheduled auction of watch collector Davide Blei’s Vintage Rolex Collection auction until March 22, 2009, at the Grand Hotel et de Milan, in Italy.