On 10/8/2007, the Wall Street Journal’s front page story was an exposé of some very questionable practices by Antiquorum, the well-known watch auctioneers and several well-known Swiss watch brands. For example, Omega recently trumpeted the fact that a 1950s Omega platinum watch sold for $351,000 to a “Swiss bidder” who had offered “the highest price ever paid for an Omega watch at auction.” What Omega did not say? The buyer was Omega itself! My own guess is that they also were the sellers, directly or indirectly?
The article quotes Osvaldo Patrizzi, Chairman of Antiquorum “We are collaborators” – referring to business with Omega and other makers. Interestingly, Antiquorum’s board fired him shortly afterward.
It does give one cause to wonder about who the sellers really are? We all read about the $1,000,000 plus sales of unusual complicated vintage watches. Many are bought by watch manufacturers. Are these bona-fide sales or have some members of the Swiss watch industry found auctions to be a new way to promote their brands? Is it ethical for a watch manufacturer to be both a seller and a buyer? That is a question that will most likely be asked by many watch collectors as this story develops.