Antiquorum then and now...

I've had an enjoyable afternoon reviewing Antiquorum's 1994 auction catalog, The Art of Vacheron Constantin.  Compared with today's auction catalogs, this was a superior product.  Not just because of the VC theme, of course.  The descriptions contained details of the movements including calibre and lignes.  Also, the date of production is specified, and often the date first retailed.  Lastly, Antiquorum's buyer's premium was only 10%.

Why can't the auction houses do as good today, considering their 25-30% surcharges?

Seems like the industry is evolving...
06/03/2008 - 04:25

and whether or not the changes are positive or negative remains to be seen.

We are now in more of the proverbial eBay generation with the internet playing a greater role.  Osvaldo Patrizzi seems to believe that the auction market is continuing to change from where he started it with Antiquorum.  His new company is doing away with hardcopy catalogues and also buyer's premiums.  Will this approach work?  Maybe but I would not bet against him as he has one of the strongest personalities in the industry.  He deserves much of the credit for the scale and magnitude of the current watch auction market.

I agree that the older catalogues were fantastic.  They are wonderful resources for information.  While I see the future in the internet, I still enjoy flipping through a physical catalogue.


Patrizzi always said that Antiquorum catered to the enthsiast that's
06/03/2008 - 10:27

why there was always so much information in their catalogues and the scans of such good quality. Looking back Sotheby's and Christie's catalogues had rather poor scans and hardly any details on the watch (history etc...) as still accodring to Patrizzi they catered to professional who knew what they were buying and didn't need educating.

Things have nevertheless changed and Christie's and Sotheby's in the past 2-3 years have started editing excellent catalogues.

I still think that Antiquorum's catalogues are supperior to the other 2 as there are more historical and technical notes.

Antiquorum has been going under many attacks in the past year since Patrizzi's eviction, the press has all of a sudden woken up finding that some brands actually bid for their watches and gone on a crusade against Antiquorum follwed by dealers who have boycotted the sales etc...

As I said before I don't want to get into Antiquorum's internal politics as (i) it's non of my business and (ii) to comment I need to know exactly what's going on and I don't. However if watches are considered today as an item worthy of collecting it's thanks to Antiquorum. They set the market and created awareness, when the majority of us buy or sell a watch we check the Antiquorum database to see what the price is.

Christie's and Sotheby's are art dealing powerhouses, no matter how well their watch sales do they count as peanuts in their overall revenues, watches are not essential to them whereas Antiquorum's core and sole business is watches. 

I truly believe that the industry (brands, dealers, buyers) would have a lot to loose if Antiquorum disappears.

Just my 2c... 

Good points Alex...
06/03/2008 - 12:00

In many ways, I think that the whole industry owes a debt to Patrizzi and Antiquorum.  It is just a shame that things ended up the way that they have for them...


This blue book,
06/03/2008 - 18:15

is just amazing, and in my eyes even better than than the catalogue from The Quarter of Millennium Auction,

even though the last has a lot more beautiful pics

I also attended the auction 2005, and went away with a watch,

but 1994 there was a real killer ! 

So someone went away withy this watch, just by attending the auction in 1994 !

One of you guys?



Re: This blue book,
06/05/2008 - 07:40

I totally agree that this blue book is an amazing one...especially...its suitable description contents.


Watches auctions
06/03/2008 - 18:28

I must say I've aways been impressed by the quality of Christie's catalogues'. I also think they have real scenography and rythm in their books.

This is my own very personnal view.

All the best to the Loungers !

Sotheby's are also fantastic,
06/04/2008 - 12:26

but often it depends on the subject.

I get a lot catalogues both from Christie's and Sotheby's in other fields than watches!

What I always have had against Antiquorum, at least, the last years, are their heavily photoshopped pics.

Never seen on Christie's, Sotheby's or Bonham's !

On the other hand it sometimes irritates me that bot Christie's and Sotheby's,

have two-four watches on the same pic!!



I don't know for fact but...
06/04/2008 - 17:46

I would be very surprised if the other auction houses don't apply some Photoshopping to their images as well.  Watches are incredibly difficult to photograph with lighting and reflective crystals being some of the biggest challenges and I have seen plenty of the pros using a little bit of software assistance.

Also, having physically seen quite a number of auction lots, I often notice differences between the catalogue images and the real watch.

No offense intended Doc.  If these guys can truly shoot the watches so well without any Photoshop being used, then I need to find the photographer and ask him or her to shoot my collection.