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Watchfinder, the UK specialist in previously owned watches, believes the vote for Brexit may have boosted business. Lloyd Amsdon, co-founder of the company, which sells watches via the internet as well as from stores in London, Kent and Leeds, says Watchfinder experienced an increase in foreign business following the vote, probably as buyers took advantage of the sharp drop in the value of sterling. Before June 23, the firm sold an average of 27.2 watches per day to buyers from abroad, a figure that jumped to 48 in the 31 days after the vote for Brexit — an increase of about three-quarters. The day the Brexit result was announced, June 24, more Americans than normal visited the Watchfinder website and spent a record $16,815.
Move with the times
A batch of 70 unused movements from the 1950s that were unearthed at Eterna’s factory in Switzerland has been put into a special series of watches. The mechanisms, which were found during an inventory of the brand’s museum, feature an alarm clock function and have been housed in 40mm steel cases with vintage-look dials to create a model called the “1948 For Him Reveille”. Each of the 70 watches is priced at about £4,100.
The star of Phillips’ flagship Geneva auction on November 12 is a 1940s Patek Philippe reference 1518 that is particularly rare because it has a case made from utilitarian steel rather than precious metal. The model is significant for being the first series-produced perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch. Most of the 281 made were in yellow gold, with a few in pink gold. Only four were cased in steel and it is a decade since one appeared at auction. The example being offered by Phillips has not been on the block before and could realise in excess of $3m.
Sotheby’s Hong Kong once held the most successful horological sales in Asia. But its watch department was left in limbo earlier this year with the unexpected departure of longstanding head specialist Sharon Chan — followed shortly afterwards by the rest of the team. A spokesman for the house said watch sales in the region would continue but was uncertain where they would be managed from. A figure within the auction world suggested that the formerly effervescent Hong Kong auction market, which is largely focused on modern timepieces, had been hit by the large amount of discounted stock available following a drop in retail sales of more than 30 per cent in the past year, as reported in recent figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Asian collectors are also said to be trading watches between themselves at collectors’ clubs, thereby avoiding the need to pay commissions and buyer’s premiums charged in the salerooms.