I buy things at auction now and then, and I consequently get loads of auction spam mail.
The lead item is sometimes visually intriguing enough that I cannot resist clicking on the link out of mere curiosity.
What, I wondered, was this particular watch being sold by a Swiss Auction House all about?
Ineichen ZÃ¼rich AG, Zurich, Switzerland
November 17, 2018 Sale, Lot 289: VIANNEY HALTER Antiqua
Description: Case: Rose gold case; Dial: Hours and minutes silver dial, date display, silver-coloured month and year dial, silver weekday display; Movement: Automatic movement, Mov. no.: 8R, Case no. 99.8R.132, Cal. VH198, 43mm, black leather strap with pin buckle.
Sold yesterday for: CHF 52,500 ($52,500) + 24% Buyer Premium = $65,100.
Why would anybody spend so much money on such a weird watch? GaryG explains.
[A]t first Iâ€™d be tempted to characterize the Antiqua as a â€œpatronageâ€ piece: one purchased in recognition of and in support of the great work of one of the most skilled independent watchmakers.
Upon reflection, however, Iâ€™m going to classify it as a member of the â€œinvestmentâ€ category: a watch that, regardless of its prospects for future financial appreciation, can be a foundational element of a carefully curated collection. For me, the Antiqua merits a spot in the watch box of any serious collector of independent watches, and I know that Iâ€™m certainly not alone in my view.
The truth is that I fell for the Antiqua when I first saw one more than a dozen years ago; while many of my friends will freely confess that at the time they were at first put off by its looks, I was smitten from the start. It took me a number of years to save up the money and find the right piece, but for me buying an Antiqua was just a matter of time.
Iâ€™ll start with one word: steampunk.
The steampunk ethic really appeals to me, and I appreciate Halterâ€™s use of something he calls the Futur Anterieur (roughly, â€œthe future as seen from the pastâ€) as a guiding design principle. Because we cannot truly see the future, at any point in time we envision it through the lens of present-day items and technologies. As seen from the 1860sâ€™ vantage point of Jules Verne, building a submarine or spaceship with heavy, riveted windows would have made perfect sense; and for the occupants of those vessels as imagined by Halter, a matching watch would be just the thing to have.
I think that itâ€™s also fair to say that the Antiqua began the modern design movement in watches. A leading independent watchmaking impresario once told me that he considers the Antiqua â€œthe missing link between traditional and contemporary watchmaking.â€
Iâ€™m of like mind, and for this reason alone, for me the Antiqua is one of the few most important independent watches ever made.