Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 Sets Record at Phillips Bacs & Russo Auction in Geneva
On November 12, 2016, the Patek Philippe ref. 1518, in stainless steel, became the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction with a final sale price of $11,136,642, including buyer premium. The watch was one of the first mechanical chronograph perpetual calendars ever produced. It is only one of four of that model, in that configuration, known to exist. The auction also featured two other ref. 1518 in rose gold and yellow gold, which sold for $1,489,813 and $602,840 respectively.
Compagnie Financière Richemont SA Announces 200 Job Cuts and Elimination of CEO Position
Richemont contacted union reps to announce they will be cutting 200 watchmaking jobs in Switzerland amid the downturn in global watch demand. The cuts will come mainly from the top-tier Piaget and Vacheron Constantin brands. This adds to the 100 jobs they cut earlier this year, with much of those coming from their biggest brand, Cartier. Also, in a corporate managerial shift, Richemont will be eliminating the primary CEO position when the current CEO Richard Lepeu retires next year. It is the biggest managerial shift for the company since 2009. Instead of a CEO overseeing all the brands, the manager from each brand will report directly to the company’s board of directors. Richemont is a publicly traded company on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the JSE Securities Exchange. It is the parent company of many luxury watch brands, the most notable being A. Lange & Söhne, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Officine Panerai, Piaget, Roger Dubuis, Vacheron Constantin, and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Jewelry Store Owner Killed During Robbery in Milwaukee
Leopoldo Vela was shot in the chest and killed during a robbery at his jewelry and pawn shop, Corona Jewelry, on October 31, 2016. The Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) is offering a reward of up to $3,000 for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator. You can contact the Milwaukee Police Department at 414-935-7411 or the JSA Reward Hotline at 800-325-1883 with information relating to the crime. This is the second industry-related homicide this year, the previous being a sales rep who was robbed at a gas station in Arlington, Texas.
Serial Jewelry Thefts Reported Around the Country
There have been at least five similar thefts reported in different states around the country ranging from $4,000 to $20,000 in monetary damages. The thefts are believed to be carried out by Romanian gypsy gangs, according to the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, but it is unclear if the groups are related in any way other than the similarity of the crimes. The thieves usually show large amounts of cash to put the sales staff at ease while asking to see many items at a time. The sales staff are then distracted and items are concealed and taken. The thieves then find a way to leave without completing the transaction, putting items on hold, for example. The Jewelers’ Security Alliance advises stores to only show one item at a time and always keep the showcases locked except to remove or replace an item.
TAG Heuer Expands to Silicon Valley
TAG Heuer has opened a research and development arm in the heart of the international technology hub, becoming the first Swiss watch brand to do so. The office is located on the Intel Santa Clara campus and will be responsible for furthering its venture into the smartwatch market in collaboration with Intel and nearby Google. CEO Jean-Claude Biver was quoted as saying, “The connected watch will definitely be a permanent part of the TAG Heuer brand.” TAG Heuer has sold 60,000 connected watches in less than a year’s time. The brand will be announcing a new smartwatch in the spring of 2017 with a planned production of approximately 150,000 pieces per year.
Nepali Mountain-Guide-Turned-Watchmaker, Lapka Thundu Sherpa, Dies in Avalanche
Thundu was a watchmaker for the Kobold Watch Company in Kathmandu, Nepal. Kobold’s founder, Michael Kobold, brought Thundu to Pennsylvania to learn watchmaking after he and another guide, Namgel Sherpa, helped Kobold and his wife on an Mt. Everest expedition. The workshop was completely devastated in the April 2015 earthquake that shook the region, bringing the workload to a trickle. Thundu had returned to mountaineering, the thing he was most comfortable doing. He was working as a guide for an expedition on Mt. Ama Dablam, just south of Mt. Everest, when a magnitude-5.4 earthquake caused large ice blocks to dislodge. One ice block struck Thundu. A helicopter rescue was called in, but he was pronounced dead on the flight to the hospital. No one else in the expedition party was killed, but another climber was injured. Donations are being collected to support Thundu’s family. To donate please visit:
Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.