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Phillips watches sale: Bacs is back

Le 18 May 2015
Malik "Pifpaf" Bahri

Hello everyone,

A cliché says that one buys a seller first.

Then you earn your first salary, you buy your first shelves at Ikea, or do your first shopping at the supermarket. You encounter  all the misery of OECD working poors : dull eyes, miserable wages, robotic answers.Afterwards, as you get richer, you go to buy a BMW (or a Mercedes) to celebrate you third Rolex : you stumble across « Dédé la gouaille », carsalesman. He may be fun and dynamic, but don’t expect culture, intelligence or taste from him.

Or you’re a Nerd just like me, and you hunt for bargains on the internet. In all cases, the adage only rarely comes true. You buy products, regardless of who sells them.

Until Aurel Bacs.

Aurels Bacs @ Christie's

We can’t truly capture the meaning of this article until we see Aurel in action. Let’s say he combines a marathoner health, the eloquence of a member of the « comédie-Française » and the culture of a watchmaking archivist.Even as a simple spectator, the show is incredible.

Aurel directs the auctions untiringly, with surgical precision. More than a cyborg, he is  a Marvel hero with a hammer.

This show is a necessary step in a pilgrimage to watchmaking land.

  • No need to say that when I heard about the departure of Aurel from Christie’s, I was as lost as an Apple groupie realizing that her Iphone 6 folds in her slim jean pocket. 

Aurel Bacs logically started out from buyer side. He outbade in particular for an ” anonymous buyer ” the fantastic Henry Graves Supercomplication, to which I dedicated a series of articles.


His return to hammer a few months ago was therefore an excellent surprise ! This was all the greater because he returned in a firm unknown by watchmaking fans :

Aurel Bacs @ Phillips

Aurel Bacs will direct this auction with part of the Christie’s former team : his wife Livia Russo, But also Nathalie Monbaron and some others you’ve already met in previous Christie’s auctions.
This Phillips watches tender is narrowed : 224 watches, all top-level.

The auction is split in two parts :

On Saturday 9 May, starting at 7pm, the 60 Rolex Day Date will be displayed, each more exotic and gorgious than the one before (the Rolex 1831 (LINK) in particular).

Then, on Sunday 10th, we’ll see the 164 other lots : mainly vintage Patek, professional Rolex, old Omégas, Longines of the golden age, some Vacheron Constantin, a pinch of Lange (2!!) and a hint of Panerai : a Mare Nostrum Pré-V.

The objective of Aurels Bacs and his team consisted in sharpening the bid on the most beautiful pieces to the maximum, to provide them a maximum follow up, in terms of search of their histories : previous owners, services, date of production and sale, ect…
This approach of the Bacs-Russo couple is a guarantee of reliability, optimum quality of service for the customer.

The drawback is that this quality approach is so time-consuming that the auction will not include the exotic and fun pieces displayed in some other  auction rooms : lower-ranked vintage (Exelsior Park, Minerva, Seikio), 19th century pocket watches (Audemars, Vacheron), contemporary independent watches (Greubel, Forsey, De Bethune), ect…

Those absentees may be at the heart of upcoming Phillips auctions sales…

To conclude, here is a short description of the most beautiful pieces I have the privilege of being able to photograph at Phillips (thank you to them) :


The Patek Philippe 130 push-button unique steel case (35mm). One of the two known (the other one is in Patek museum). They probably correspond to the order made by two doctor brothers in Latin America.
The Valjoux draft was widely modified by Victorin Piguet at the Sentier. In particular, he added a system that allows starting the chrono by mean of a single « poussoir-couronne ». The dial is a splendid Art-deco-style parangon.

  • The minimalism of this piece is inversely proportional to its sale price : one or two million.

Final Bid 4.645 millions

Patek  Philippe 130 Steel Monopusher (6)


The Patek Philippe 1518 « Pink on Pink », I would add « On Pink » because of the pink gold bracelet. As soon as I have a 1518 in hand, I feel like touching the incarnation of Patek myth.

  • It is characterised by a perfect balance between the Calvinist restraint and the qualitative abundance, concentrated in the first wristwatch combining QP an chronograph.

This specific model has a pink dial, on pink case. This is a rare combination : only 12 of the 281 Patek 1518 produced are pink monochrome. The chronograph Valjoux 23 caliber is finely decorated by Victorin Piguet (inward angles, drawn out features, ect…) and is fitted with an auxiliary plate of perpetual calendar. You may also see the finishing details of the dial : polished indexes, bevelled apertures, sous compteurs rapportés, lacquered/polished moon phase, ect… Sale price : CHF800000 – 1400000.

Sold for 1.445 millions.

Patek 1518 Pink on Pink Phillips Bacs Auction (7)

The Lange Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst (phew!). This piece led me to wonder whether:

Lange is the most legitimate descendant of Patek from the 30’s to 50’s?

Although Lange’s universe is different from that of Patek, I find the same guidelines : workmanship, restraint, attention to detail, innovation in tradition. Returning to this Zeitwerk, according to me it is the pinnacle of contemporary classical watchmaking (in a more contemporary style, there are De Bethune and Greubel Forsey).It combines the optimum Lange finishings, an ultra-fun complexity, and it satisfies a fantasy that dates back to the early days of the resurrection of Lange by Blümlein : digital time display via the famous Lange’s large aperture. This Handerwerkskunst (if anyone knows how to pronounce it precisely, please contact me) have the peculiarity of having a hand-engraved dial. Of course, this is fantastic, the perfect corollary of the brilliant movement. This is a combination of Lange finishing and independant watchmaking cut of the bridges.

  • To me, its unique mixture of complexity, finishings, and its high but relatively affordable price (the cheapest versions are about 40k) make it the most desirable watch of today’s watchmaking,

Sale price of this Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst : CHF 120000 – 250 000.

  • Final bid: 221000 chf.

Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk  HANDWERKSKUNST Phillips Auction Bacs (5)

Contrary to Foudroyante’s habits and customs, this is a very enthousiastic, positive, if not one-way article. It’s not complacency but an objective observation : nowadays, auctions gather the quintessence of old and contemporary watchmaking, with exceptional content and stakeholders.

Hammerly yours.