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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Timepiece Tuesday: Christie’s, Patek Philippe, Tag Heuer, Ulysse Nardin, Breitling, Philip Stein and Oprah

Christie’s Sets Record for Watch Sales Led by Patek
With its final auction of the fall season on December 14 in New York, Christie’s International wrapped up a record-breaking year for fine and rare watches that realized $91.2 million in total sales—the highest annual total ever achieved for watches by the global auction house. Every watch sale hosted at Christie’s salerooms in Dubai, Hong Kong, Geneva and New York achieved sell-through rates above 90 percent by value. The top watch of the year was a Patek Philippe Reference 1527 manufactured in 1943 that sold for a record $5.7 million at Christie’s Geneva (pictured). In fact, it was great year for Patek Philippe, as the top seven watches sold in 2010 and the top nine out of ten watches sold for the year by the auction house were from the Swiss luxury watch brand. Christie’s top four Patek watches sold for more than $1 million. “We have welcomed in a wealth of new collectors to this field in the past year, and witnessed an exponential growth in buyer participation from Asian countries, led primarily by mainland China and Hong Kong,” said Aurel Bacs, international head of Watches at Christie's. “At the same time, established collectors from the private, trade and institutional sectors in Europe and the U.S. continue to add great depth and strength to this category.

TAG Heuer, Parsons, Name Watch Design Winners
TAG Heuer and Parsons The New School for Design today unveiled the winners of the “Art of Watchmaking,” a 10-week competition that charged eight teams of Parsons product design students with reinterpreting TAG Heuer's classic Monaco chronograph. Each member of the three teams will receive a monetary prize and a Tag Heuer timepiece. In addition, TAG Heuer has the potential to produce one of the first-place designs as a limited-edition piece. During the review, each of the student teams showcased three concepts, and discussed their inspiration, target consumer and design philosophy. Ideas ranged from a Monaco with a rotating case to designs inspired by the New York City transportation system. First-place honors went to the team of Yong Yi Lee, Yoav Menachem and Amit Ran, whose designs included numbers to appeal to collectors (top photo); second-place honors went to the team of Enrique Diaz Rato de Zabala, Michelle Organ and You Jin Sung, whose designs included a black ceramic timepiece with neon accents (second photo); and third-place honors went to the team of Yusuke Sekiguchi, Christopher Beatty and Helen Kim, whose designs included a piece with naturally grown crystals in its dial (third photo). Read more about the design competition here and here.

Ulysse Nardin Opens First U.S. Boutique, Announce Plans to Build U.S. Headquarters
Ulysse Nardin, opened its flagship boutique in the United States at the Boca Raton Town Center Mall on December 16 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration attended by more than with 400 people, including famed baseball pitcher Randy Johnson. The luxury watch brand partnered with Bobby Yampolsky of East Coast Jewelry to open its first boutique in the U.S. The nautical-inspired store has more than 80 of the brand’s timepieces, including three models from the limited edition Boutique line. Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, Ulysse Nardin announced plans to open a 7,000 square foot U.S. headquarters in Boca Raton in the spring of 2011. This facility will be the company’s only repair center in the U.S. and will include up to 10 fully Swiss-trained watchmakers. The Swiss company manufacturers 20,000 watches per year, priced from $5,900 to $1 million.

Philip Stein is an Oprah Favorite
The Limited Edition 25th Anniversary Oprah Watch by Philip Stein was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show's recent episode of “Oprah’s Favorite Things.” It was third time the Miami, Fla.-based watchmaker and retailer was featured on the annual Favorite Things show. However, it is the first time the company designed a watch just for the show. The signature dual dial watch has an applied silver letter “O” celebrating the television star, philanthropist and businesswoman. Philip Stein designers carried the theme further with applied silver numbers “2” and “5” commemorating Oprah’s 25th anniversary. Limited quantities of the 25th Anniversary Oprah Watch, available in a diamond style with a total carat weight of more than one carat, and a non-diamond style, are being offered to the public through select retailers and online. and interchangeable straps. Each watch comes packaged in a custom designed box featuring the Oprah 25th Anniversary logo.

Breitling Opens First U.S. Boutique
Swiss luxury watch brand Breitling opened its first U.S. store in New York on East 57th Street. Breitling watches retail from $1,000 to $300,000, and 90 of the brand’s latest models will be available for purchase at the store.

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