An auction of vintage Omega watches, including James Bond's latest timepiece, has fetched SFr6.5 million ($5.4 million), more than three times the pre-sale estimate.This content was published on April 16, 2007 - 17:51
The collection stretched from Hollywood to Africa – Bond's Seamaster Planet Ocean went for more than SFr250,000, and the 18K yellow gold pocket watch belonging to Haile Selassie I, emperor of Ethiopia from 1930-1974, was bought for SFr40,120.
Omegamania, hosted by the world's leading horological auctioneers, Antiquorum, generated a total of SFr6,536,911 including the highest price ever paid for an Omega watch at auction. A Platinum Constellation Grand Luxe from 1953 went to a Swiss bidder for SFr413,700 after fierce competition from Italy and Japan.
The auction was staged in Geneva on Saturday and Sunday and broadcast simultaneously to the Basel watch and jewellery fair, with bids via a satellite link for the first time at a public auction.
In addition, 48,500 people all over the world followed the auction via internet link, with a third of the lots sold online.
The last of the 300 lots, all of which were sold, was the Seamaster Planet Ocean worn by Daniel Craig in the most recent James Bond film Casino Royale.
The watch was acquired by a British buyer who would not disclose his name, but the tension would have pleased Bond author Ian Fleming as the bidding became ever more intense between room, phone and online. The timepiece eventually went for SFr250,250.
More glamour was added by the ring watch once owned by the original Bond girl, Swiss actress Ursula Andress. The watch, designed by Andrew Grima in 1972, was bought by a bidder at the Baselworld fair for SFr261,750.
Two original Speedmasters, the watch that became the first and only model to be worn on the moon, were sold for 30 times the current retail price.
Osvaldo Patrizzi, founder and chairman of Antiquorum, said: "Omegamania has confirmed the arrival of Omega in the top echelon of collectors' brands."
Vincent Ferniot, a French journalist, said: "Omega collectors like me always felt a little discredited by other watch brand collectors and we always knew that the prices of our vintage Omega watches were underestimated. From now on we might even be envied."
Stephen Urquhart, president of Omega, part of the Swatch Group, said: "Omegamania has shown all Omega fans and watch collectors the fantastic richness and scope of the brand and its heritage. Today's auction will remain as a milestone in Omega's history."
swissinfo with agencies
Two private Omega collections featured in the 300-lot catalogue.
It also included prize-winning chronometers, military watches from both world wars, the earliest diving watches, as well as the more recent co-axial escapement housed in a limited edition split-seconds chronograph.
Founded by Louis Brandt in 1848, Omega was one of Switzerland's first industrial wristwatch manufacturers by 1900.
It has been setting world precision records at observatory contests since 1919.
Omega has timed 22 Olympic Games and other international sports events in athletics, swimming, golf and sailing.
In 1965 Nasa chose the Omega Speedmaster Professional as its official chronograph for space exploration.
In 1970 the chronograph "rescued" the crew and craft of the Apollo 13 mission from disaster after an on-board explosion. The Speedmaster timed the critical engine ignition to set them on course for Earth.
The Speedmaster Professional X-33 electronic multi-function watch is now on board the International Space Station.
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