Auctions Laurent Picciotto’s personal collection goes on sale in Hong Kong WorldTempus spoke to watch retailer Laurent Picciotto about the sale of his watch collection by Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo in Hong Kong on 30th May 2017.

Are you selling your entire collection?
Yes, the 43 watches represent the vast majority of my collection. There are a couple of pieces that I withdrew from the sale on the advice of Aurel [Editor’s note: Aurel Bacs is co-founder of the watch department of auction house Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo] either due to their specifics or due to a lesser interest for such pieces. For both sentimental and market reasons I haven’t put my Gérald Genta models from the end of the 1980s in the sale.

What period do these 43 watches cover?
They cover the past 25 years and they are representative of what we have done at Chronopassion and what I have purchased over the years. Many of them are number 0 prototypes or number 1 from limited editions because when I wanted to buy a watch for myself I didn’t really want to buy a watch from stock so I would buy a watch with a particularity that made it unique.

There are also some unique pieces and prototypes that I discussed with some brands, such as H. Moser & Cie, with whom we did a prototype Funky Blue model with quite a bright dial. I bought it and we produced one more as a unique piece for sale. With Gino Macaluso [Editor’s note: the late President and Chairman of the Sowind Group, owner of Girard-Perregaux] we worked on a Laureato with a round bezel and he sent me the prototype with a special engraving. There is also the Richard Mille RM008, which for me has the craziest movement, and we made it unique with a black coating. I also have the very first HYT model ever produced.

Laurent Picciotto’s personal collection goes on sale in Hong Kong

Richard Mille RM008

At the same time as you are opening your redesigned store you are getting rid of your personal collection. Had the time come for a change?
No, it’s just a coincidence in terms of timing. We have been working on the sale for a while and I don’t really look too far ahead into the future whenever I’m planning anything. When I met Aurel in the context of the Cultural Foundation of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie I mentioned that I had a few watches that I was interested in selling. But he said it would be more interesting if there was a bigger collection. Then came the hard part, because buying a watch is relatively easy, but when you have to decide which ones to sell, it’s a lot tougher.

So how did you choose?
In the end, I just decided it would be easier to sell everything. And that is when Aurel said that we could do something interesting. He discarded a few pieces but kept the large majority. When we started preparing the sale more seriously, I decided that I wanted to add some goodies to make it a bit more special.

Is this an end to collecting for you?
Not at all! Selling these watches will allow me to buy some new ones that I have had my eyes on. I’ve decided that I will wait until the day after the sale before I start to do this, however. There have been a few occasions when I almost jumped the gun, but I managed to resist and respect my own decision. For me it’s a new way of thinking. Maybe it’s also a question of age because it’s something I might not have done a few years ago. I’m finding it quite fun.

Why sell at the Hong Kong auction?
There is a commercial aspect to the sale, because my name is closely linked to Chronopassion and I actually have a lot of customers in Asia. I’ve mentioned the sale to a lot of my customers and they think it is great. It may even bring new customers who are attracted by our philosophy of offering unique and special pieces.

What is the total estimate for the sale?
It is between 1.3 million and 2 million Swiss francs based on the estimates, but Aurel has quite clearly told me that he has no idea how well some of the pieces will sell. You only need two or three competing bidders for the same piece for prices to shoot up quickly. On the other hand, there are some pieces below 30,000 Swiss francs, for example, where I haven’t put a reserve.

What will be the first watch you buy after the sale?
I’m 98% sure that it will be a Legacy Machine Perpetual Calendar by MB&F. One of the watches I have worn a lot, because I think it represents very well Chronopassion’s position in the marketplace, is the first Legacy Machine. It is the perfect blend of tradition and modernity and it’s the type of watch we like.


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