“When a company like Sotheby’s asks you to collaborate, you can’t say no,” says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of Bob’s Watches, an online retailer specializing in Rolexes. Altieri selected 18 watches from his private collection of more than 300 watches to pair with specific cars being auctioned by RM Sotheby’s during this week’s Monterey Car Week in Monterey, California, an annual event that draws gearheads from around the world with auto shows, rallies and car auctions.
Bidding for Watches Online: The Driver’s Collection will open today and run through August 20. The actual watches from the sale will be exhibited in Monterey from August 14 to 17 in a pop-up space adjacent to the lobby of the Portola Hotel.
One of the stars of the RM Sotheby’s auction is a 1965 Aston Martin DB5 "Bond Car" up for bids in the August 15 sale, "An Evening of Aston Martin," which will offer more than 30 sports cars from 007’s favored marque. Built to promote the launch of Thunderball in the U.S., and the third of four examples with special-effects features designated by Q Branch in Goldfinger, Lot 111 is estimated to sell for between $4 and $6 million.
As a perfect complement, Sotheby’s suggested a vintage Rolex “Big Crown James Bond” Submariner Ref. 6538, the model worn by Sean Connery as 007 in Dr. No.
“Over the last five years, some of these watches have doubled and tripled in value,” says Altieri. “I only have four left in my collection, and I didn’t want to part with one, but I gave in and paired it up with this legendary car.”
Altieri chose a prized circa-1958 model with a tropical dial. He explains that the watch is particularly rare and highly valued because of the four lines of text on the dial. “Rolex made only a few thousand of these watches in the 1950s, and maybe 20 percent had four-line dials. On top of that, it’s tropical,” he adds, referring to the warm caramel brown color that some vintage black dials faded to after extreme sun exposure. “Hopefully the guy that gets the car says, ‘I’ll take the watch with it.’” Lot 4 in the watch sale is estimated to sell for between $180,000 and $280,000.
Lot 17 is a circa early-2000s Patek Philippe Nautilus, ref. 3710/1A, selected as a complement to Lot 261, a 1994 McLaren F1 'LM-Specification,' which goes on the block at RM Sotheby’s on Friday August 16 with an estimate of $21 to $23 million.
Nautilus was originally designed by the legendary Gerald Genta and launched by Patek Philippe in 1976. The Nautilus is currently one of the hottest models on the contemporary market and is virtually untouchable for those who want to buy a new one.
In 1998, Patek Philippe presented the Nautilus 3710/1A with a power reserve indicator. The model in the auction has a black dial with Roman numeral hour markers and a date window in a 42mm case like the inaugural 3700 Nautilus. Patek phased out the Nautilus 3710/1A in 2005. Lot 17 is estimated to sell for between $40,000 and $60,000.
“The McLaren is a legendary supercar, they didn’t build that many of them,” says Altieri, who has sat in the car and was inspired to pair it with the Nautilus in his personal archive. “We had to find an equally cool watch with historical background. They kind of look alike and go together.”
A third auction highlight is a circa-1974 Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263 with a rare “sigma” dial, Lot 12, estimated to sell for $70,000 to $90,000. Altieri points out the watch as a potential value opportunity. “It is fairly priced and those watches have gotten a little soft in the last few months,” he says. “It’s a classic Daytona 6263 with a very low reserve, so it represents a good value for someone looking for a quality, iconic vintage Rolex for their collection.”
In his view, the 6263 is the perfect companion to the 1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta by Scaglietti which goes on the block on Saturday with an estimate of $675,000 to $750,000.