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For most folks in the watch business, Geneva’s Watches & Wonders tradeshow is the biggest industry event of the year.. Not so for Sacha Davidoff, one half of the duo behind the beloved Geneva vintage shop Davidoff Brothers. “The Geneva auctions are much, much, much, much, much, much, much bigger because there’s vintage being sold,” Davidoff says. “We probably do 10 to 20, maybe even 30 times more business.”
The Geneva auctions, which take place this weekend, are like the flipside to W&W. While the latter deals with the new and modern, the Geneva auctions put a spotlight on vintage, pre-owned, and sometimes extremely old, rare timepieces. I jumped on the phone with Davidoff, who has been attending the auctions for a decade, to ask him the most obnoxiously specific questions possible.
What are the most interesting watches up for sale this weekend?
Davidoff goes into every auction season with a game plan more expansive than anything Steve Kerr can cook up on a charcuterie board. One thing he does is divide the watches he finds compelling into three categories: professional curiosity, meaning watches he aspires to deal with one day; business, meaning watches he might actually buy to deal; and unprofessional curiosity (my term), which are pieces he wants to see just because they’re rare, incredible, or both. These are highlights from that third category.
By far the oddest oddity to be found in Geneva this weekend is a one-of-two Patek Philippe with a chameleon on it. And not, like, a gem-setting that looks like a chameleon (like Rolex’s Eye of the Tiger), or even a cute enamel painting of a chameleon, which would still be pretty wild considering Patek’s conservative design approach. No, this piece has a full TK chameleon figure acting as the bracelet. Only two of these watches exist and the other one is in the Patek Philippe museum, meaning this is the only one that will ever come up for sale. Davidoff has taken to calling it the “Rango,” after the movie starring Johnny Depp as an animated chameleon.
Other highlights include some blinders, like the Rolex Daytona 6269 and 6270. These watches represent two different peaks on Rolex’s gem-setting mountain. Both were made in the ‘80s, long before collectors were used to seeing these types of blinged-out watches. They are both utterly outrageous, but the 6270 is slightly rarer and more desirable because of the baguette diamonds around the bezel and the dark-blue subdials.