You could call them the fathers of time: Patrizzi & Co. Auctioneers are known not only for their detailed, well-researched catalogs of horological history but also for exposing and inspiring watch collectors worldwide. The company specializes in horological auctions and publishes guides to luxury antique watches, clocks, and automata, as well as contemporary wristwatches. With a extraordinarily thorough database of information on timepieces, Patrizzi & Co. possesses a considerable edge over the competition.
For instance, on April 20, 2004, during a prime time for jewelry and clock auctions, another auction house sold an Art Deco mystery clock for $107,550. Patrizzi & Co. received the clock, researched its history, and discovered its provenance and importance. The house sold it for $380,000. In 2009, after extensive research utilizing the companys deep expertise, it sold a Patek Philippe Tourbillon watch for $317,000. A month later, a virtually identical piece was sold by another auction house for only $187,000.
Chief watch expert and vice president of Patrizzi & Co. Philip Poniz started making watches in the 1970s. He has continued to season his craft by creating exceedingly complex watches, including a tourbillon with a constant-force escapement. Poniz is a collector of horological information: The index of his personal library has reached the eight-million mark. He often lectures to horological groups and has conducted historical discourses, as well as more technical seminars for Sothebys, Antiquorum, and other auction houses.
Osvaldo Patrizzi, the president of the company, is known as the creator of the wristwatch auction market, which today is a $100-million business. With demand much stronger than supply, watch collecting is considered both an exclusive and a cutting-edge hobby. Patrizzi is, without a doubt, responsible for much of the development of wristwatch collecting. He oversaw the first watch auction in 1974 in Geneva, Switzerland, the metropolis of the watch auction market, has innovated many ways of auction selling and is considered to be among the most influential people in horology.
In 2009, Patrizzi & Co. was chosen as the organizer for the Only Watch charity auction sponsored by Prince Albert of Monaco to benefit research efforts in the fight against muscular dystrophy. It featured timepieces personally chosen by Patrizzi. Major watch brands such as Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Omega, Breguet, and many others invented specialty watches just for the event, with the affluent attendees able to test the new creations.
Patrizzi believes strongly in the timeless value of watch collecting, as well in continued growth of the industry. As for building ones own collection, Patrizzi says, Its essential for collectors to know the historical evolution of the pieces they purchase from a technological point of view. He adds: We also must not forget that collecting watches was a privilege in the past for emperors, kings and the aristocracy worldwide.
The companys collection includes pieces dating to as far back as the 1580s and watches that reflect the high quality and striking appearance of the 19th-century watch market. Patrizzi & Co. has over 450 years of watchmaking history, offering collectors a vast and distinctive collection of pieces. Their cross watches, likely previously owned by dignitaries of the Catholic Church, and early table clocks are as intricate as works of art. The Patrizzi & Co. wristwatch collection contains pieces ranging from older periods to more recent creations, showcasing the evolution of extremely rare wristwatches over the course of the past few centuries.
Some of the more complex pocket watches are testaments to a Swiss watchmakers ability to lend a gentleman an air of importance and savoir-faire. The rare, one-of-a-kind Panera wristwatch created for Italian divers during World War II is a signature piece in the collection. In past auctions, Patrizzi mystery items included two magnificent Cartier Art Deco table clocks and the most complicated Cartier Comet clock ever made, featuring sophisticated gold and nephrite detailing.
We combine the best expertise on the market with the best contacts to assist collectors, says Patrizzi. Our system does not include commission and every purchase comes with a five-year authenticity guarantee. What people purchase is exactly what they want: We can guarantee what we give to our customers. Not every auction house can do that.
This past June, Patrizzi held an auction preview event in Shanghai. He appreciates and admires Chinese collectors, who study watches with precision. They know what they want and they want more and more, says Patrizzi. They do it for the passion, for the art, and for the imageits a status symbol when one is wearing an exceptional watch. Watches also make for an excellent medium-term investment, perfect for diversifying. Patrizzi & Co. recently became the first auction company to acquire a permit to organize watch auctions in China.
Year after year, Patrizzi & Co. continues to be recognized for its expertise and devotion to timepieces. The companys passion for and dedication to horology has truly helped the watch-collecting industry evolve, making Patrizzi & Co. the hand that holds time.