Opened in 2006, Vacheron Constantin's Les Cabinotiers department is something of a world apart. It renews with the tradition of bespoke watches and one-of-a-kind pieces, offered as a service to collectors.
The first exhibition to be jointly curated by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie and the Michelangelo Foundation, both of which recently relocated to a historic building in downtown Geneva, highlights rare crafts and the "singular talents" who perpetuate these skills.
Auction fever will descend on Geneva from mid-May as Antiquorum, Sotheby's and Christie's prepare to dazzle bidders with some 1,280 lots in all. Antiquorum is first to take the stage.
Thirty-two libertine timepieces changed hands on Sunday March 27th, realising CHF 722,300 (US$ 781,320 / € 551,645). Asian collectors bid fiercely both online and by telephone. This was the first time since 1997 that Antiquorum had offered such an important collection.
Travel back in time to 1884 and Rome, where Sotirios Bulgaris, a Greek silversmith who had emigrated to Italy, ran a small silversmithing shop. In 1905, he moved his business to the city's prestigious Via Condotti (now the company's flagship store).
The auction house will doubtless live up to its reputation for record watch sales this May 16th. The lots on the block include enamel pocket watches and a few "stars" from Rolex, Longines and, of course, Patek Philippe.
With eight sales of timepieces totalling USD 91.2 million in Geneva, Hong Kong, New York and Dubai, 2010 was a record year for Christie's.
In an article published in Swiss daily Le Temps, Pierre-Yves Donzé, a research fellow at Osaka University, demonstrates that the 1975-1985 crisis in the watch industry had nothing to do with the advent of Japanese quartz watches. Rather, since the end of the war, Switzerland had been "resting on its laurels."