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Monday, March 27, 2017

Faidee’s Latest Masterpiece Is The $35 Million ‘Grand Phoenix’ Ruby Necklace

One could say that the latest Faidee creation is an expression of the esteemed company’s 100-plus year history spanning four generations. 

The family owned firm that specializes exclusively in Burmese rubies unveiled “The Grand Phoenix” during the Baselworld watch and jewelry trade show in Basel, Switzerland. 

Even for a company with the pedigree of Faidee—known for dealing with exceptional rubies (and Kashmir sapphires) and creating equally exceptional and extremely expensive jewels—this is something special. 

The regal necklace made of 24 “super exceptional” unheated Burmese rubies totaling 59.83 carats. The individual rubies range in weight from one to six carats. The “pigeon’s blood” gems are accented with 100.21 carats of colorless, flawless and internally flawless fancy shaped diamonds—the highest color and clarity grades. This ruby and diamond combination in a flower motif is Faidee signature creation.

The necklace is valued at $35 million, said Ravi Lunia, Faidee director.

“The Grand Phoenix is an exceptional masterpiece; a collection of flawless rubies spanning over four generations,” Lunia said. “To find a single exceptional ruby of this caliber is a daunting task but with our passion and burning desire to excel beyond perfection, we’ve managed a miracle that has never been attained in the history of the jewelry industry.” 

The press conference also served to announce that The Phoenix Necklace will be the centerpiece of a jewelry exhibition of Faidee’s creative jewels and private ruby collection. The exhibition will be presented by the Stardust Monte-Carlo, a longtime Monaco-based luxury jeweler. It will be held at the Hotel Hermitage, Salon Belle Epoque, Monte-Carlo, August 1 - August 21.

At the press conference with Lunia was Claudio Siffredi, owner of the Stardust Monte-Carlo. 

The necklace was on display on the neck of Faidee’s Ambassador, Anna Andres, a Ukrainian lawyer, actress and model who holds the title of Miss Ukraine Universe 2014.

For more than 100 years Faidee has been known as the premiere company that deals exclusively in Burmese rubies—known for their intense, vivid red hues (“pigeon’s blood” is the term used to describe this coloration). The family owned firm has history of creating jewels with these gems that are sold privately and through the international auction market easily selling for millions of dollars. Most recently, the “Ratnaraj,” a 10.05-carat ruby set on a diamond ring sold for more than $10.2 million at Christie’s Hong Kong (more than $1 million per carat). 

It’s going to be a long time before Faidee tops this latest achievement. 

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Phillips Geneva To Auction 7 Rare Rolex Watches, Including The ‘Mythical’ Bao Dai

Rolex Reference 6062 “Bao Dai.”  All photos courtesy of Phillips

The iconic Rolex Reference 6062, “Bao Dai,” will lead a sale of no fewer than seven Rolex watches by Phillips auction house in association with Bacs & Russo. The auction, which will include timepieces from many other luxury watch brands, will be held May 13 and 14 at the Hôtel La Réserve in Geneva.

The Bao Dai chronograph is among the “most valuable and desirable Rolexes” and the “most complicated and iconic Oyster-cased model” ever made by the Swiss watch manufacturer, the auction house said. In addition to its rarity, this particular model also has imperial provenance. It has a pre-sale estimate of more than $1.5 million.

This Rolex triple calendar with moonphase in yellow gold is one of three black dial models known to exist with diamond markers, the auction house said in a statement. Of the three, the Bao Dai, is the only one to feature diamond markers at the even hours. 

The watch belonged to Bảo Đại, the last emperor of Vietnam. According to family legend, Đại (the 13th and last emperor of the Nguyễn Dynasty) purchased the watch in Geneva in 1954, while he attended a conference seeking peace in Indochina.

The “Bao Dai” first appeared on the market in 2002 and was sold by Phillips for what was at the time the most expensive Rolex ever, according to the auction house. A private collector was winning bidder and it had stayed in private hands since.

Aurel Bacs, senior consultant at Phillips, sold the watch at that time. 

“It is an absolute privilege to offer the Rolex 6062 ‘Bao Dai’ for the second time in my career,” Bacs said. “With its incredible imperial provenance, stunning condition, and exceptional rarity, it’s a mythical watch that occupies the dreams of scholars, collectors, and enthusiasts all over the world.”

Other Rolex watches to be sold at the two-day auction include the following: 

The Gold Oyster Paul Newman Chronograph, Reference 6263
The yellow gold Rolex chronograph with "lemon" dial, white graphics and bracelet, circa 1969, is the third known yellow gold Paul Newman Daytona with screw down pushers to appear on the market, according to the auction house. Its estimate is $815,000 - $1.6 million.

The Neptune, Reference 8382
This 37mm yellow gold Rolex watch, circa 1953, is one of two reference 8382s to feature a cloisonné enamel dial depicting Neptune riding the sea. The dial was created by acclaimed enamel artist, Nelly Richard. Its estimate is $305,000 to $610,000.

Stainless Steel, Reference 6062
This triple calendar Rolex watch, circa 1953, with two-tone dial, moonphase and bracelet, and Arabic numerals at 3 and 9 o'clock is among a handful of examples to survive in original condition, the auction house said. Its estimate is $610,000 - $1.2 million.

Tiffany & Co. John Player Special Paul Newman Daytona, Reference 6241
Described by the auction house as “fine, rare, important and probably unique,” this 14k yellow gold Rolex chronograph, retailed by Tiffany & Co, , circa 1968. This is the only known and correct “John Player Special” Paul Newman Daytona retailed by Tiffany & Co, featuring the retailer’s signature on the dial. Its moniker is derived from the color scheme of the iconic “John Player Special” Formula One automobile. Its estimate is $406,000 - $813,000.

The Only Gold ‘Qaboos’ Daytona, Reference 6265
This yellow gold Rolex chronograph with champagne dial and bracelet, especially made for the Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Saided of Oman, circa 1973. This watch is the only known example of a reference 6265 in yellow gold to feature the red Qaboos signature, according to the auction house. Its estimate is $203,000 - $406,000.

The Pre-Daytona Chronograph with Black Galvanic Dial, Reference 6238
This 14k yellow gold Rolex chronograph watch with black galvanic dial and bracelet, circa 1967, is the second known example to appear on the market, which highlights its rarity, the auction house says. Its estimate is $254,000 to $508,000. 

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Four Watches Found In Vault After 40 Years Being Sold At Charity Auction

Patek Philippe Ref. 3514 18k gold automatic watch. Photo by Heritage Auctions

Four watches forgotten in a vault owned by the Horological Society of New York for 40 years have been rediscovered and are now being sold at a charity auction. 

Bidding for the four timepieces has already begun online on the Heritage Auctions website, which is partnering with HSNY for the auction. Final bids will be conducted live during the HSNY’s 151st annual Gala & Charity Auction, being held April 3 at the General Society Library in New York. 

The four watches are: a Patek Philippe Ref. 3514 18k gold automatic watch; an Audemars Piguet 18k gold ultra-thin pocket watch Signed Tiffany & Co., circa 1959; an Audemars Piguet 18k Gold Square watch, Ref. 5128BA, signed Tiffany & Co. circa 1960; and a Piaget $20 Saint Gaudens Gold Coin Pocket Watch signed Cartier. There’s also an enamel HSNY pin that was not in the vault with the four timepieces but is one of the few remaining vintage enamel pins from the society.

They are expected to fetch $10,000 with proceeds going toward HSNY's educational programs and endowment fund.

HSNY said the board “rediscovered” these watches and decided to use them to fund a new annual charity auction tradition. 

“It’s a remarkable find,” said Michael Fossner, Heritage Auctions watch expert. “These great watches … were of modest value when donated to the Society, where they were consigned to a vault and forgotten, oblivious to the skyrocketing market outside.” 

All five items are offered without a buyer’s premium and online bidding will take place until the day of the HSNY’s gala and charity auction. The auction will conclude with final bidding commencing live during the Gala, which begins at 6 p.m. 

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Baselworld Officials Defiant After Losing 200 Exhibitors

Entering Baselworld 2016 on opening day. Photo by Anthony DeMarco

Officials said Wednesday they “turned away” exhibitors at the 2017 edition of Baselworld, set to open tomorrow, as the show is focusing “quality over quantity.” 

“We decided to turn away exhibitors this year. It’s our choice. It’s our choice,” said a defiant Sylvie Ritter managing director of Baselworld, during the annual preopening press conference. The world’s largest watch and jewelry fair opens Thursday and runs till March 30. 

This quality over quantity theme was repeated by the four speakers who took a unified stance against criticism the show has received from many jewelry and watch exhibitors based on price increases, demands to acquire more space and a decline in buyers. The show itself has seen a decline in exhibitors the past few years. 

This stance went to an absurd level when François Thiébaud, president of the Baselworld Swiss Exhibitors Committee, rehashing the decline in Swiss watch exports (9.9 percent year-over-year), said at one point, “We don’t want to produce that many watches we want to produce quality watches.”

This year's fair has a year-over-year decline in exhibitors of 13.3 percent, from 1,500 to 1,300, Ritter said. This follows two consecutive years of 3 percent declines in exhibitors and buyers.

Eric Bertrand, president of the Baselworld Exhibitors’ Committee, leveled the harshest criticism toward those exhibitors who have left or were forced out (depending on who you talk to). 

“In the past I have been surprised by the popularity of certain brands, some quite famous, but really unrelated to our watchmaking industry,” he said. “And when the winds start to blow harshly so does reality become harsh. We have observed that some brands have had to backtrack while those who have always focused on their knowhow are still around.”

He added, “This market consolidation—even in watchmaking, even in jewelry making—will be a benefit to the entire industry the day economic recovery is fully primed. The recovery will afford the best prepared players to gain market share and to be even more successful than ever before.”

After some pointed questions from journalists (a welcomed change) Ritter said the brands that are no longer at Baselworld failed to meet a criteria that she refused to specify. 

“We have turned away exhibitors who are not in line with our concept and do not meet the criteria for Baselworld. We do not publish this (criterion). They differ depending on the product and the markets.”

It seems a bit remarkable at a time when the luxury market has been democratized through digital media, more access to world travel and brands owned by conglomerates looking for endless growth through the mass market, that Baselworld officials seem to be touting a call for old-world exclusivity. 

But really the claim isn’t believable. If it is, they should look at the conglomerate-owned watch and jewelry brands who were willing to pay huge increases for prime real estate in Hall 1.0 and which Baselworld officials were more than happy to accept. These increases spread to the rest of the halls which led to smaller watch and jewelry brands being priced out of the fair. 

In addition, when Baselworld went on this luxury strategy following a renovation a few years ago, the market was led by a boom in China that has largely leveled off. Now with a myriad of geopolitical and economic challenges throughout the world, consumers are not buying like they used to. 

It seems obvious to me the only criteria that matters is money. 

Bertrand singled out fashion watch brands as those who failed to meet this mysterious criteria. 

“The reason is and you must have read about it and know a certain number of brands that are fashion related took watches to get into the industry and they treat it like an accessory … like glasses and spectacles and other components (it) becomes an element (that) adds value to the image but are not related to our industry,” he said. “Now I believe these people did not obtain the results they planned and have given up producing such products.”

One former exhibitor that went public with criticisms of Baselworld and publicly left was the Timex Group Swiss Luxury Division, a division of the Timex Group, which manages the watch business for luxury fashion brands Salvatore Ferragamo, Versace, Versus and Nautica.

Paolo Marai, president and CEO said in a recent Jewelry News Network story, the $3 million investment into the show could be better spent in other areas of its global business. The four brands occupied Hall 1.1, the second floor of the hall dedicated to “global” watch and jewelry brands.

The watches are made in Lugano, Switzerland, in line with "Swiss Made" quality standards. 

Another high profile company that left Baselworld (or didn’t meet the “criteria”) was Bremont, which had the largest space in a separate area for independent watch brands, known as “The Palace.” 

The Palace is no more; instead it is replaced by a new area called, “Les Ateliers,” in Hall 1.2, described by Baselworld as the place for “the most successful” independent watch brands. Bertrand and the others treated the change as an accomplishment rather than a symbol of the fair’s decline, which others have argued. 

Despite the controversies of the past year, Ritter’s defiance was clear with her last statement at the press conference.

“I went through the halls last evening and I can tell you that I slept very well.” 

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Graff Big Unveil At Baselworld 2017 Is An Artistic Butterfly Watch

Graff Diamonds took a traditional theme and used it to take a newer approach to its jewelry designs. 

The “Princess Butterfly Secret Watch,” unveiled moments ago at Baselworld 2017, is certainly gem-centric, which in line with the luxury brand, but it also shows a more artistic approach to its offerings. 

The motif for Graff’s new women’s watch, the butterfly, is certainly within the brand’s traditional approach to its creations and to bejeweled creations in general. But this creature is highlighted by sensual curves as opposed to bold gemstone statements. 

Diamonds and gemstones that pave the wings of the butterfly and the bracelet use the invisible set technique. First invented in the 1930s, small grooves are cut in the underside of each diamond or gemstone allowing them to slide onto a grid hidden beneath the stones. To achieve a finish of pure color the chosen stones must be color-matched, before being cut to fit tightly against one another as if made exactly for the delicate curvature of the butterfly wings.

I saw this piece a week ago in Graff’s London boutique. While the focus is on the butterfly wings, equally impressive is the curvature of the bracelet itself, which is showing artistic details not always prevalent in Graff’s pieces. 

One can’t forget that beneath the jewels is the “secret” watch. To see the time, the owner pushes on one of the center round diamonds and the wings slide apart to reveal the watch dial. 

Each “Princess Butterfly Secret Watch” case is set in white gold with 66 baguette diamonds. The butterfly wings are available in four different variations: full diamond, ruby, sapphire, and diamonds with sapphire detail.

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Piaget Adds Color To ‘Possession’ Collection To Launch On Net-A-Porter With Olivia Palermo Ad Campaign

In a series of firsts, Piaget will be adding color to its Possession jewels for the first time in its 25-year history, and it will for the first time unveil the collection on a third-party eCommerce website: Net-A-Porter. 

In addition, the brand is unveiling an advertising campaign featuring style icon, Olivia Palermo. The campaign is shot by her husband and friend of the brand, model Johannes Huebl. It is the second consecutive year that Olivia Palermo is serving as the face of the campaign.

The Possession collection includes rings, necklaces and bracelets in 18k white and pink gold variations, with some new creations featuring vibrant colored stones and brilliant diamonds. Two watches accompany the assortment in white and rose gold diamond styles.

Gold and sparkling diamonds has been the trademark of the Possession collection since its inception but the collection will soon be available in lapis lazuli, black onyx, turquoise, green malachite, red carnelian and gold. 

Possession is a delicate, versatile collection defined by its unmistakable rotating rings that can be worn throughout the day. Spherical shaped colored gems encircled by a gold ring hang as pendants from long yellow-gold chains that can also be wrapped twice to make a shorter necklace. The same colored stone spheres wrapped with the Possession ring design are set, like charms, along a delicate chain bracelet. The same spherical shapes adorn the ends of gold bangels, accompanied by the turning ring of Possession. 

A sprinkling of pavé diamonds is noticeable throughout the collection. 

The collection will be launched on April 3 on Net-A-Porter.

“Net-A-Porter is the ideal partner for Piaget’s first foray outside of the Maison’s own channels,” Chabi Nouri, who will be Piaget’s CEO on April 1, said in a statement. “We are delighted to bring the Piaget Possession collection to the Net-A-Porter client as she shares many of the same values as Piaget: audacious creativity, elegant style and positive energy.” 

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Raymond Weil Releases David Bowie Tribute Watch

Swiss watch brand, Raymond Weil, has unveiled the limited edition freelancer “David Bowie” as a tribute to the life and musical career of one of the most influential artists of all time.. 

The release of the watch, created in collaboration with the David Bowie Estate, is timed to celebrate what would have been Bowie's 70th birthday. The timepiece is dedicated to a few of the many personas created by the five-time Grammy Winner.

To honor Bowie, Raymond Weil chose its most free-spirited model: freelancer. The 42mm case contains a dial resembling a vinyl record featuring some of the most emblematic design cues of the British artist. A stylized version of the lightning bolt painted across his face that first appeared on the cover of the “Aladdin Sane” album in 1973 is detailed in red at 12 o’clock. The pop art logo "Bowie," revealed on the cover of the album “Diamond Dogs” in 1974 is located above 6 o’clock. 

The sapphire caseback has a portrait of David Bowie, immortalized in 1974 by photographer Terry O’Neill.

The watch is powered by the RW4200 automatic movement with a 38-hour power reserve.

“He was an artist in a league of his own, a visionary, multi-faceted icon whose work is testimony to an exceptional career as a musician and a creative,” said Elie Bernheim, Raymond Weil CEO. “His metamorphoses both in terms of style and music studded his career, catapulting both himself and his characters to legendary status.” 

Bowie, a prominent figure in popular music for more than five decades, received acclaim as an innovator whose career was marked by reinvention. His visual presentation, music and stagecraft significantly influenced popular music. His record sales, estimated at 140 million worldwide, made him one of the world's best-selling music artists. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Bowie died on Jan. 10, 2016, of liver cancer, two after his 69th birthday and the release of the album "Blackstar."

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