Provenance has been synonymous with watch auctions over the past few years. We’ve seen watches sold by the emperors of Vietnam and Ethiopia, Jackie Kennedy, elvis Presley, robin Williams, and of course Paul Newman. These watches are expensive and sometimes many times more expensive than similar watches without backstory. But watches don’t have to come from a-level celebrities or world dignitaries to carry their provenance – no, sometimes stories can be closer to home. Phillips will sell the original 1993 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore replica watches, owned by Emmanuel Gueit, which the designer first created at a Geneva auction to be held in November.
It’s hard to imagine it today, but in 1993, the idea of people wanting an expensive, oversize stainless steel timestamp watch mechanical movement was bizarre. If you look at what other products were available in Switzerland at the time, it was more about the small complexities of stubborn precious metals, mainstream bare-bones sport fake Audemars Piguet watches, and sleek quartz creations in fashion suits. It’s also important to remember that Offshore was originally conceived as a model of the original Royal Oak’s 20th anniversary, and it’s no longer selling as well as it used to. It’s clear that offshore will continue to be a home run and create a separate category.
Clearly, what sets this watch apart is that it has been the personal watch of the people who designed it, and arguably the Swiss Audemars Piguet replica watch industry for more than 20 years. You can see that he’s actually wearing a watch as well – it’s not safe and patient for such a moment. The dial is faded, the dial is slightly saturated, and the band and case show common signs of wear. On the back cover, you’ll find a simple Royal Oak logo carving and the watch number 039.
Phillips wasn’t the only one attending the offshore 25th anniversary party. At SIHH 2018, we saw an anniversary special edition of Royal Oak Offshore, which is almost Gueit’s original design for parts reconstruction. The watch is a reference. 26237ST (it’s important to remember, given the number of sea changes generated over the years), this is a non-limited-edition – I really like that it’s not a small, restricted run that will prevent ordinary collectors from being able to get their hands on it. Instead, it was a true celebration of ROO and its impact over the past 25 years. Above you can see a new piece next to Gueit’s personal watch – the similarities are really obvious.
While it may not be as flashy as the sale of Royal Oak Offshore, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger or a public figure with a famous rock ‘n’ roll AP timepiece, I think it’s cooler. The Offshore is a watch that has had a huge impact on The watch over The past 25 years, and The life of this AAA Audemars Piguet replica has been extended to The wrist of this man, who has seen The future of The watch industry in many ways and brought it to life. There’s a profound symbolic connection here, and I think a lot of other people would agree with that.