Today is the second day of the Geneva Watch Auction Six (GWA6) by Phillips. While there were some amazing parcels (is that even an astonishment from Aurel Bacs and Phillips…), with a Patek 2523 or an unbelievable Patek 2497 in white gold, the superstar for us here, at MONOCHROME, absolutely was the Omega Tourbillon 30 I – a 1947 watch and one of the absolute first tourbillon wristwatches ever made, and the first to have been completed in Switzerland. This watch just sold for a noteworthy CHF 1,428,500, making it the most costly Omega ever auctioned.
The story behind this watch is rather noteworthy. While the tourbillon is, as a significant number of you know, the creation of a specific Abraham Louis Breguet in 1801 (or at least the patent is from that year, regardless of whether it was not uncovered to people in general until 1805), it has stayed a pocket watch include for near 150 years. What is today a practically common complication was not back in the days, and it has consistently been an element held for super complex pieces or for chronometry challenges. What’s more, shockingly, the spirit of the tourbillon in a wristwatch is significantly nearer from us.
Research reveals to us that the first Tourbillon wristwatches were made by Lip, who made a rectangular tourbillon model in 1931/1932. However, Lip was not a Swiss company… and it was a model, so the first Swiss-Made tourbillon wristwatch is,
Of course, we are as yet talking model style developments and watches here, as the first officially commercialized tourbillon wristwatches were from Franck Muller (1984), Audemars Piguet (1986), and Breguet (1988). However, back in 1947, Omega produced 12 (later creating the impression that 13 were made) 30mm hand-wound developments named 30 I, highlighting a tourbillon controller turning every 7.5 minutes. These developments were made to partake to chronometry contests, to run in the “wristwatch” classification of the Geneva, Neuchatel and Kew-Teddington Observatory preliminaries (and they progressed admirably, as this development is still, until now, the one that achieved the most elevated score for a wristwatch at the Geneva trial).
Now about the present watch… In 1987, seven of these twelve developments were found by Omega and totally remade, they were then cased in gold and silver uniform and offered to a select gathering of authorities. However, not the current model. The current Omega Tourbillon 30 I was for sure completed back in 1947, as a whole watch – illustrations and data contained in letters protected at the Omega Museum feature plans for a 30mm tourbillon development to be housed in a wristwatch, and making it number 13, one notwithstanding the 12 definitely know.
So what was up for sale today is really the first Swiss-Made tourbillon wristwatch (and not wristwatch-sized development, later re-encased), initially make in 1947 – and in an eminent unique condition, with its steel case fresh as new. That clarifies why authorities commended that watch and why Aurel Bacs, Phillips-Watches, accomplished this great CHF 1,428,500 price (inc. premium) – compared to a gauge of CHF100,000 – 200,000. What’s more, it in this way becomes the most costly Omega ever auctioned.
As an update, two of the 1987 re-encased models sold in 2007 at the Antiquorum/Omegamania Auction, for CHF 215,750 and CHF 256,000 respectively.