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Bonhams Online Sale -- 8 Reasons for the Awful Results

I’ve had a couple of messages, asking for an explanation pf why the vintage Heuers performed so poorly at the most recent Bonhams auction – the online Heuer sale, held from August 28 through September 12, 2018. Here is a link to the online catalog --

It’s not much fun examining these train wrecks, but let me offer the following as factors contributing to the poor performance of this particular auction:

  1. Bad Timing – August is a big month for vacations / holidays, and I wonder whether the first few days of September are the right time for a vintage watch sale. The Labor Day weekend might take away some bidders.
  2. Poor Publicity – I only heard of this sale after it was over, and I wonder how many other people were in the same boat? There are Facebook groups and discussion forums for vintage Heuers . . . it’s quick and easy to post messages there. I saw no mention of this sale anywhere.
  3. Lousy Photos – While we can’t expect all the auction houses to meet the Phillips standard of photography, the overexposed head-shot, in the white box, is a particularly bad way to get people excited about a watch. People want to see bright, vivid colors, not the washed out look that these white boxes produce.
  4. The Fakes – Have a look at Lot 269. Sorry folks, but I don't think that this watch was made by Heuer. When people see one fake in an auction, then they worry about the others.
  5. The Refinished Dials – Lot 266 . . . awful!! And unsold!! Once again, when you see one nasty refinished dial, you wonder about the quality control for the remainder of the watches.
  6. The Frankens – Several of the watches appeared to have been made from the parts bins. Lot 240 may have been the worst offender, with an earlier case / bezel, and a later dial. Perhaps there were some valuable parts included in this watch, but as a watch it was all wrong.
  7. Oh How They Suffered – Many of these watches were in absolutely awful condition. For example, have a look at Lot 255 below. This watch will be a loser on eBay; it certainly can't withstand the added premiums required in a live auction.
  8. The Funk – The market for vintage Heuers has been in a bit of a funk over the last year. Yes, we can debate whether it’s a funk, a correction, or a crash, but one thing we can agree on – auctions like this one do not improve the market for the vintage Heuer chronographs. The laws of supply and demand suggest that the recent high prices (2016 and 2017) are bringing out more supply; unfortunately, the quality of this recent supply has been awful. I believe that the strong, reputable sellers are doing OK with the high-quality vintage Heuers . . . second tier auction houses selling first quartile watches are not faring as well.

Please let me know if I have mischaracterized any of this or made any mistakes in describing the watches. I will be happy to make any corrections in my assessment of these watches or this auction, and I invite all our readers to share their views on the market in general.



Lot 240 (below)

Lot 255 (below)

Lot 266 (below)

Lot 269 (below)


: And it looks like a bloodbath, with some awful watches, some
: pitiful prices, and many lots unsold --


: Online only; August 28 through September 12, 2018.

: I first learned of this sale a few minutes ago, two days after it
: ended.

: Were others aware of this sale? Anyone catch a bargain?

: Jeff

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