×

This search is sponsored by Roger Dubuis

Search in :
Auctions
Auctions - Aurel Bacs, a collector’s heart

Auctions Aurel Bacs, a collector’s heart

From Christie’s to Phillips via Bacs & Russo, the president of the GPHG jury also presides over Only Watch. The May auction season promises to be intense.

Eighteen months ago, you left Christie’s which at the time was the world leader in watchmaking auctions, and now here you are again at Phillips which had been missing from the sector until now. What magic trick is behind this?
The magic trick of life which redefines your projects! Livia and I had indeed left Christie’s at the end of 2013 in order to work for ourselves, and reduce the number of watches we handled to include only the most beautiful on the market. After a short break, we therefore founded our company, Bacs & Russo. We were far from imagining that Edward Dolman, former CEO of Christie’s (!) would contact us and suggest working together to establish the watchmaking department at Phillips! After a few brainstorming sessions, we came up with a plan that would enable us to retain our independence while developing the watch department at Phillips: by associating the latter with Bacs & Russo. This partnership is all the more pleasing in that our vision of dealing with less volume in order to focus on the best quality in the market remains intact.
 

Your Auction One and Glamorous Day-Date catalogues weigh a total of 3.250 kg. On whom do you wish to make the greatest impression: the competition or your clients?
Impressing people was not part of our plans. But clients liked the formula, for which there are two explanations. On the one hand it turns out that all the departments at Phillips use this format, so with that in mind we adopted it as well. On the other hand, their thickness stems from our desire to maintain two pages for all the watches. It is very often too restrictive to attribute just one page and we wanted to fill this gap. Independent of its basic value, each piece presents such a lot of sometimes subtle aesthetic, historical and technical information, that to us it appeared indispensable that we document it correctly for experienced buyers. A few clients asked us with a touch of humour if we were offering a gym subscription with the catalogues, but the vast majority said they were delighted, even going so far as to say that they regarded them as reference works to keep in their watchmaking library.

Phillips catalogs

Could you give us an example of some of the gems contained in these works?
In my opinion, the term “gems” does not necessarily refer to pieces that will set all-time records, but to those that will make collectors’ hearts beat faster due to their rarity, beauty, condition or history. And we have selected them on this basis. For example, lot n°195, a 1969 Heuer, is not only a very first-generation automatic chronograph and therefore very interesting from a historical point of view, but also sold in “new from stock” condition, with its original protection still stuck to the base and its original presentation box. In another style, but just as remarkable, the Vacheron Constantin Reference 4178 chronograph in steel with a salmon coloured dial and tachymeter scale is not just rare, but unbelievably beautiful and in virtually new condition. Independently of their favourite brands, collectors need to fall in love. It goes without saying that the four flagship lots on the cover (the Rolex “Albino” Clapton and three others from Patek Philippe: Reference 1518 in pink gold, Reference 130 mono-pusher chronograph, and Reference 6062 Black Dial having belonged to a U.S. General) are amongst the most beautiful, most important and most sought-after watches this spring.
 

heuer-monaco-1133-Phillips

You have also agreed to manage the 2015 edition of Only Watch for its tenth anniversary. Are collectors looking forward to it?
It’s an enormous honour for us to have been chosen to partner the 2015 edition of Only Watch. Together with Luc Pettavino, I had the pleasure of visiting the SIHH and Baselworld brands which welcomed us incredibly enthusiastically. I also had the privilege of seeing a number of current projects, and even a number of finished pieces, whose quality, creativity and genius fascinated me. Collectors are indeed looking forward to it and hope to obtain information before D-Day, but obviously I respect the desire of the Manufactures and Only Watch alike not to reveal anything earlier than planned.

You are the president of the jury of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. Have the jury and the categories changed a lot?
The GPHG is an event which constantly has to adapt to developments in the market, even the most subtle amongst them. Furthermore, Carine Maillard and Carlo Lamprecht made a point of listening to various opinions after the last edition, and then sharing them with the small advisory panel of which I am part. It appears that the 2014 edition was very convincing and did not require major adjustments, with the exception of a few points in the rules. The categories were extensively revised last year and remain similar. As every year, however, we are changing part of the jury, and the members will soon be presented gphg.org.

Follow the May 10th auction, Only Watch and the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève on worldtempus by subscribing to our newsletter here.
 

Watch Finder

Search by:

Find your watch

Brands

Patek Philippe enjoys outstanding renown and rare prestige, due to the constancy with which the Manufacture has applied its philosophy of excellence ever since it was founded.

Find out more

An exploration of the history of Vacheron Constantin is a voyage of discovery, revealing the excellence of age-old watchmaking. Each timepiece is the result of the creative inspiration of the...

Find out more

Recommended reading