SINGAPORE – FutureGrail, a Singapore-based premier investment advisory firm for high-value timepieces, will be holding its inaugural online auction of collectible timepieces from Sept 8 to 21.
Some 180 high-value watches will go under the hammer, with pieces from the world’s most prestigious brands, including Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille and A. Lange & Sohne.
The watches are divided into modern, independent and vintage wristwatches, as well as pocket watches.
They were all sourced from FutureGrail’s client pool – a diverse group of horology enthusiasts, investors and institutions.
Prospective buyers and the public will be able to check out the watches in person during pre-auction viewings held at FutureGrail’s facilities in Pasir Panjang from now until the end of the auction on Sept 21.
The 2,700 sq ft site also hosts a museum of more than 200 vintage timepieces, as well as a tax-free vault for clients to store their collections. Tight security measures are in place throughout the premises, as provided by global security experts Malca-Amit.
FutureGrail founder and chief executive Ali Nael, a former oil trader and one of the world’s top vintage watch collectors, says the auction was timed specifically to follow the end of the summer holidays and the start of the main watch auction season in November and December.
“Ours is the first serious watch auction of the season, and we stand out for charging a low buyer’s premium of only 5 per cent on top of the hammer price,” says Mr Nael, 42.
According to watch website A Blog To Watch, auction houses often charge between 10 and 30 per cent as a buyer’s premium over the final hammer price.
Another strong selling point of FutureGrail’s auction is the expertise provided by the firm’s curator Arnaud Tellier, a leading horology historian, certified watchmaker and former curator of the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.
Mr Nael says: “Every watch was thoroughly and carefully inspected before we decided it was up to our standards for the auction. In fact, we decided to pass on a number of pieces to ensure that only top-quality timepieces would go under the hammer.”
He says that a low estimate of the total value of the collection is US$8 million (S$10.8 million) and expects that it could reach up to US$10 million by the end of the auction. Some watches will go up for sale with no reserve price.
Though FutureGrail said in April that it would be the first in the world to introduce fractionalised bidding for high-value timepieces – allowing individuals to bid on owning a fraction of a valuable watch instead of its entirety – this will not be carried out for this auction.
Nevertheless, Mr Nael says the auction has attracted a great deal of interest internationally.
Those who have registered include collectors from major hubs who are “intrigued by the diversity of our offerings, which include many rare vintage pieces, but also a good representation from independent brands like Daniel Roth and F.P. Journe”.
He is also proud to help grow Singapore’s status as an auction ground, with interested buyers flying to the Republic from all over the world to inspect the timepieces in person during the pre-auction viewing.
“Singapore is safe, and both politically and financially stable,” he says. “It’s been the best place in Asia for us to establish our business, and I look forward to seeing Singapore’s continued rise as a luxury goods hub.”
Four watches to look out for in FutureGrail’s inaugural watch auction
FutureGrail founder and chief executive Ali Nael highlights four watches from the firm’s inaugural auction of rare, high-value timepieces.
Patek Philippe Ref. 605HU World Time, Circa 1948 (US$60,000 to US$100,000)
“The World Time watches are historically important. Louis Cotter (the inventor of the world time zone compilation) supplied these movements to Patek Philippe, who then finished the movements and encased them in their own (proprietary) design and dial.”
F.P. Journe Gold Dust Tourbillon Souverain, Circa 2001 (US$500,000 to US$900,000)
“The Tourbillon Souverain is another historical timepiece from the early days of F.P. Journe. As it is made from the first batches of brass movements, it is highly sought after by collectors.”
Patek Philippe Ref. 1503 Steel Two-tone Dial, Circa 1943 (US$120,000 to US$200,000)
“The Patek Philippe 1503 Steel is an absolute dream (version of the) Calatrava. It’s impossible to locate any with this dial and only three are known. It is one of the most beautiful two-tone dials made by Patek Philippe.”
Patek Philippe Ref.3971G, Circa 1989 (US$150,000 to US$250,000)
“The Patek Philippe 3971G is also a highly collectable dream watch. Only six are known to exist, and one comes by probably once every 10-plus years. It has a screw-down sapphire crystal case back displaying the complicated movement.”
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