One winning bid last month at Only Watch (the bi-annual sale of unique pieces with proceeds going to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research) shattered expectations and left this commentator with nothing to compare.
Indeed, Lot 30, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay One, nearly tore a hole in the Universe. The Black Bay One is essentially a one-off version of Tudor’s recently released Black Bay Black. The discernable differences are gilt stick hands, unique gilt dial printing, and straight bracelet end links replacing the fitted production Black Bay version.
As such, the presence of the piece in the Only Watch catalogue caused some controversy. The cognoscenti questioned whether it was different enough to be called unique and thus in the spirit of the auction. And the pre-auction estimate of CHF3500 – 4500 ($3400 – $4400) may have reflected that.
So when it hammered at CHF375,000 ($365,000), the watch world – at least the great unwashed on social media – basically went nuts. Most of what I saw ranged from mild surprise that the 1% would spend their money this way, all the way to complete distain for the watch itself even being in the auction, let alone being the subject of such outrageous bidding.
Reading all those comments confirmed that I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a crazy price. On the other hand, who am I to judge whether someone paid too much for anything. That’s between the buyer and his alter ego. It turns out, value is in the eye of the beholder.
However, I have to ask, am I the only one who thinks it might have been tax advantages and a charitable spirit that sent the piece to 83 times its high pre-auction estimate?
I don’t know the tax laws in every country around the world. I certainly don’t know what country the buyer was from, and thus, what tax advantages the winning bid held for him. But I suspect the tax benefits of charitable giving had a lot to do with the price the Black Bay One eventually brought.
To me, this result is two-faceted. On one hand, I think it’s great that a ton of money went to research into cures for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. But I also think such charity auction results should be discounted when record auction prices are discussed. Not unlike the imaginary asterisks that baseball fans recognize when they talk about home run records in the steroid era.