We took a visit to Fellows Auctioneers in Birimingham to have a pre-auction viewing and explored an exciting range of watches...
On 31st July, I went along to Fellows Auctioneers to look at some incredible watches before the official auction started. This was the first pre-auction viewing I have ever been to and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I went along to this auction with my colleagues Tim, Alice and Ben. The reason for my visit was overall to experience an event like this for the first time to get a feel for what was in store for future business trips. I was the assistant photographer on this trip, alongside the lead photographer, Alice.
We had heard about this particular auction through some popular bloggers Time4APint and with it being on our doorstep in Birmingham we thought it was worth a visit. We first perused the Fellows website to understand what was being auctioned and pick out some key favourites that we wanted to have some hands-on experience with. I didn’t really have much of an idea of how auctions went and it was a great learning adventure for me. Seeing these exclusive pieces online, getting an idea of their guide prices, seeing them in the flesh and then finally learning of their completed sales price was a brilliant experience.
Who doesn’t enjoy trying on rare and expensive wrist watches?
Fellows Auctioneers have two offices and this particular auction took place in their Birmingham Auction Room in the iconic Jewellery Quarter. We had previously been in contact with Liam at Fellows who greeted us there, took us through a series of security doors and finally showed us through to the showroom where we were met by some amazingly lit display cases and incredible wristwatches. I was fearful at first to ask about handling the watches but once my colleagues (seasoned visitors of pre-auction viewings) began exploring, I got into the swing of things and tried on a couple of interesting ones myself.
One of the first watches that caught my eye, that I hadn’t noted online, was an 18ct Tag Heuer Chronograph. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this piece as I don’t normally go for gold items BUT I do really like sub-dials on a watch and I tend to be drawn towards vintage and classic watches more than modern ones. However, this was a re-edition based on a 1964 Carrera and although it looked time honoured, it was much more recent build.
It was in great condition with light marks to the crystal and case and all the subdials were functioning. Fitted on a brown crocodile strap with 18ct yellow gold clasp, it was a very complimentary duo with the red-brown leather adding to the warm tones of the watch. It has small and subtle lume dots at 3, 6 and 9 and inset into the baton hands which was a nice touch. Price realised:- £2,807
Another gem at this auction was a Theo Fabergé limited edition tourbillon. Designed by the grandson of the renowned Peter Carl Fabergé, it was a fantastically intricate wristwatch. With a silvered guilloche dial, two egg-shaped cut-outs to show to the tourbillon escapement and date dial (a homage to its Faberge egg brothers) all encased in an 18ct yellow gold stepped case. This was a stunning dress watch measuring 39mm and fitted on a signed black alligator strap with 18ct yellow gold clasp, it was really brought to life on the wrist.
There were only 25 of these beautiful timepieces made and this was number 5. It was in great condition with only a few light marks and scratches from wear (mostly to the casing and clasp) and everything was fully functioning. My favourite feature on this piece was the silky guilloche ornamentation that seemed to move as the light caught it. Price realised:- £21,692
Finally, I want to talk about a particularly slim Patek Phillipe 18ct white gold Calatrava. Commonly called the quintessential dress watch, it features baton hour markers (which were my favourite feature) that catch the light beautifully, a subsidiary seconds dial and all fitted on a simple black crocodile strap.
At only 37mm with an extremely slim case, this watch was a minimal but elegant dress watch that would comfortably sit under sleeves. My colleagues didn’t enjoy this watch as much as I did, Ben found this piece slightly underwhelming and felt the proportions were slightly off when sat on the wrist. However, he did appreciate the build and simplicity of the watch. Price realised:- £10.590.80
There were a few clear favourites throughout the day for all of us that went along. So, I asked the team which watch topped their leaderboard and why they enjoyed it so much.
Tim’s favourite: Rolex Submariner 5513
“Quite simply, it’s a grail of mine. The symmetry of a vintage no date Sub is extremely appealing to me as it subtly pays homage to the original configuration of the Submariner. The custard cream coloured lume and domed acrylic crystal creates such a characterful piece. One day I’ll add one to my collection!”
Tim has recently written an article comparing the Rolex Submariner and the Omega Seamaster 300 from the Watch Auction. Find out what he thought here.
Price realised: £15,950.00
Ben’s favourite of the day: Theo Fabregé St.Petersburg Collection Tourbillon
“My favourite piece from the auction was the Theo Fabergé limited edition tourbillon. I think 39mm with the perfect size for this watch and the thickness and overall proportions were very well executed. I loved the lustre of the engine turned guilloche dial, the depth was incredible and you could really tell that the dial was silvered, it was an extremely elegant piece and would serve as the perfect ‘special occasion’ dress watch.”
Price realised:- £21,692
Alice’s favourite: Rolex Daytona 16528
“My first thoughts about this watch was how I really enjoyed the warmth of the gold case and bracelet in combination with the white dial. It looked clean and well finished. The subdials were perfectly positioned and the chamfered hands caught the light beautifully. The Arabic numerals are a great addition on this watch and although the dial is quite busy, it all works harmoniously together. My only bad note about this watch was the size of the crown- It’s pretty chunky.”
Price Realised: £15,312.00
My favourite: Tag Heuer Carrera 1964 Re-Edition Chronograph
I surprisingly enjoyed the Heuer chronograph. I expected to like a smaller elegant piece but to me, it held a lot of character and the warm autumnal tones of the gold combined with the strap was something I enjoyed. The pop of blue on the scale measuring 100 fractions per minute was a nice touch and the gold baton indices was a welcome addition to the crisp white dial.
Here's a few more special pieces we got to spend some time with on the day.
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Grand Taille- Price Realised: £9,187.20
Featuring a silvered dial and baton hour markers.
Audemars Piguet Stainless Steel Royal Oak Bracelet Watch- Price Realised: £7,273.20
Featuring a blue 'Tapisserie' dial, power reserve subdial, second time-zone subdial and a subsidiary date dial.
Rolex Ladies Bi-metal Oyster Perpetual Datejust- Price Realised: £1,658.80
Featuring an extremely patinated bezel and champagne dial.
Frank Muller Endurance GT Chronograph- Price Realised £4,083.00
Featuring a split-seconds chronograph movement and blue star indicies.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Co-Axial Price- Realised: £2,934.80
Featuring arrowhead hour markers and bold orange seconds hand
Speake-Marin Limited Edition Titanium 'Rum' - Price Realised: £14,674.00
Featuring a 1780 Harewood Rum capsule placed at 11 o' clock (The worlds oldest rum)
This was a successful day for the team and we managed to get some great hands-on time with some brilliant watches. Arriving early was a good idea because the morning slowly became busier with eager watch enthusiasts and the display cases started to get crowded. I’d really recommend seeing a watch in the flesh before you purchase it because it’s amazing how differently things can look and feel once you see it for real, especially at auctions.