The Top Pieces at Fortuna’s “Important Watches” Auction, According to our Editors

Fortuna’s second installment of “Important Watches” is just around the corner. From a Rolex Daytona Paul Newman to a 90s Gerald Genta rarity, there’s much to be coveted. The Watch Journal team sorted through the auction’s 66 lots to identify the pieces we wouldn’t mind investing in.

Cartier Tonneau Cintree Dual Time

Cartier Tonneau Cintree Dual Time
“Cartier is known for their fabulously shaped watches: the bathtub-inspired Baignoire, the melting Crash, the iconic rectangular Tank, just to name a few. The barrel-shaped Tonneau is one of the most elegant, and the dual time zones are completely useful for the modern day traveler, making for a most fascinating and unusual dial.” —Stephen Watson, Editor in Chief

Audemars Piguet Twenty Dollar Gold Coin Ref. 5610 BA

Audemars Piguet Twenty Dollar Gold Coin Ref. 5610 BA
“The development of ultra-thin movements in the mid to late 50s led to wildly creative timepiece applications like the use of currency and coins as dials and watch cases. Not only does this remarkable timepiece feature a mechanical movement with 32 hour (!) power reserve, it’s also slim enough to fit inside a hollowed out twenty dollar gold coin. Overall, a stunning piece.” —Max Prince, Deputy Editor

Audemars Piguet 18K Pink Gold Skeletonized Chronograph
“A 1980s AP pink gold skeletonized chronograph in a female friendly 37 mm case size? This is a done deal for me. Pioneers in the field of complications, this Audemars Piguet marks an era of mechanical expertise that survived the 1970s quartz crisis. The skeletonized case provides a front row view of the chronograph mechanism in action. Elegantly hand engraved plates and bridges drive home the ultimate craftsmanship and value of this special timepiece.” —Katie Reed, Publisher

Gerald Genta “Success” Octagon Chronograph

Gerald Genta “Success” Octagon Chronograph
“Interest in Gerald Genta timepieces has been escalating for some time with rare examples becoming harder and harder to find. This octagon shaped chronograph from 1990 exhibits the best of the era—a carbon dial and a gleaming yellow gold case and bracelet. These wildly cool stylistic elements are in fashion once again. The 90s are back, baby!” —Courtney Kenefick, Special Projects Editor

Patek Philippe “Nautilus” Ref. 5712/1A

Patek Philippe “Nautilus” Ref. 5712/1A
“An untouched 42 mm blue dial Nautilus with date, power reserve, moon phase, and sweep seconds in stainless steel? With box and papers? You are looking at a relative holy grail. Patek retailers hold years-long waiting lists for a steel Nautilus, so good luck getting one any time soon. Skip the line, roll the dice, and head straight to Boardwalk and Park Place with Ref.5712.” —Marc Lotenberg, CEO

Rolex Daytona Paul Newman

Rolex Daytona Paul Newman
“A Rolex Paul Newman Ref. 6239 is the watch most Rolex fans would give their right arm for. With stunning results achieved  for Newman’s own at Phillips last year (it sold for $17,752,500), the desirability factor for this watch goes without saying.” —Stephen Watson, Editor in Chief

Important Watches will take place at 1:00 PM on Thursday, September 27th. Register to bid here.

10 Killer Ways to Wear a Steel Watch

Being well-dressed starts with a great watch.

And when it comes to sartorial versatility, nothing beats a fine timepiece inside a steel case. It can take you anywhere and everywhere. This year, reassess your wardrobe by eliminating the unnecessary and paring down to the essential. Here are a few ideas…

The Look: Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 ($5,700); + A.P.C. Serge Shirt ($220) + A.P.C. New Standard Jeans ($220);

The Look: Hermès Slim d’Hermes ($7,650) + Hermès Jacquard Turtleneck, ($1,625);

The Look: Breguet Type XXI Chronograph Ref. 3817 ($13,900); + Todd Snyder Striped Brushed Wool Sweater ($298) + Todd Snyder Unconstructed Sport Coat ($598);

The Look: Glashütte Original Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date ($14,900); + Berluti Unlined Supple Wool Double Breasted Jacket, ($3,700) + Berluti Classic Wool Trouser ($1,010);

The Look: Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A ($24,836); + Officine Generale Paul Wool Pants ($370) + Officine Generale Benoit Italian Poplin Shirt ($225) + Officine Generale Cashmere V Neck Sweater ($475);

The Look: TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 ($4,500); + Ralph Lauren Cashmere Tickweave 3-Piece Suit ($9,995) + Ralph Lauren Purple Label Tailored End-on-End Shirt ($350);

The Look: Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph ($5,050); + Louis Vuitton Double Face Jacket ($2,530) + Louis Vuitton Pique Crew Neck, ($920);

The Look: NOMOS Tangente Neomatic 39 Silvercut ($3,880); + A.P.C. New Standard Jean ($220); + Helmut Lang Vintage Jean Jacket ($420); similar at

The Look: Girard Perregaux Laureato 42 MM ($11,000); + Brunello Cucinelli Crew Neck Sweater ($2,100) + Brunello Cucinelli Casual Trouser ($875) + Brunello Cucinelli Travel Bag ($4,895);

The Look: Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second ($10,500); + Todd Snyder Striped Brushed Wool Sweater ($298); + Levi’s 501 Original Fit Jean ($60);

Photographs by Max Gaskins. Styling by Justin Arroyo.

Profiles in Style: Blueprints

New York’s architecture and design community is having something of a moment. Over the past decade, the city has played incubator to a fresh crop of talent, business-savvy collaborators and self-producers with an eye on the future and a healthy appetite for risk. They aren’t siloed by specialization. Buildings, interiors, graphics, lighting, product, branding—anything goes. They use 3-D printers, run pared-back studios and are sought after by premier European manufacturers. Basically, they’re making the job cool again.

Naturally, we wondered about their taste in watches.

In keeping with the spirit of our Design Issue, Watch Journal rounded up a selection of fine timepieces, an eclectic mix of classics and newcomers, all of them with blue dials. (Naturally.) Then we met with five of New York’s best young architects and designers, laid out the watches, and let them choose what went on their wrist during our photo shoot.

Consider this an introduction to the design bellwethers of the moment, a snapshot of their personal styles, and an insight into their horological leanings.

Name: Dror Benshetrit
From: Tel Aviv
Studio location: Chelsea
Known for: Architecture on Zaya Nurai Island, named the “World’s Most Luxurious Project” by Newsweek; designing the “Peacock Chair” for Cappellini, featured in Rihanna’s “S&M” music video; his signature line of home goods for Target; designing WeWork interiors
Picks: Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième, Girard-Perregaux Laureato

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième
Girard-Perregaux Laureato

Dror says: “My first important watch was a strange choice. It was a Hamilton Ventura, the famous one with the triangle-shaped case. Somebody gifted it to me, and it really got me into the culture of watches. Then I was wearing, for a very long time, the classic Bell & Ross and also a Hublot. I’m really not so used to small watches. So this one [the Jaquet Droz] feels very good. The Girard-Perregaux, I like the shape. I’m drawn to the elegance of it.”

Name: Stephanie Goto
From: New York
Studio location: Union Square
Known for: Designing three Michelin-starred restaurants in New York (Piora, Corton, Aldea); the homes of several notable chefs, including Daniel Boulud; selecting furniture for the Museum of Arts and Design; overhauling the project space at the Calder Foundation; editing the Journal of Architecture’s fifth volume
Pick: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin

Stephanie says: “I’m actually in the process of acquiring [a Royal Oak] right now, so this is sort of my test run. I met an Audemars executive at Art Basel a few years ago, and tried on the watch. It felt a little big, at least for me, but when they came out with the Extra-Thin, I was like, ‘Okay, this is perfect.’ . . . It’s just so classic, that Royal Oak shape, and the stainless band is very in line with the work I do. Understated, but detailed. I think there’s a real beauty in the design of the mechanics, too. It’s so beautiful. I love it! When is mine coming?”

Name: Marc Thorpe
From: Nashville, Tennessee
Studio location: DUMBO
Known for: “The Mark Table” and “Blur Sofa” for Moroso, featured at Salone del Mobile and in Vogue Living; creating retail spaces for Acqua Di Parma and Under Armour; the Ducati Project E electric motorcycle concept; Infiniti Pavilion at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Picks: Panerai Luminor Due, Patek Philippe Complications Annual Calendar 

Panerai Luminor Due
Patek Philippe Complications Annual Calendar

Marc says: “The Panerai is more my style. I like simple watches. Well, simple faces at least. IWC Portugieser, Rolex Explorer, Omega Speedmaster. I’ve got a little collection, you know, just six pieces, my go-to watches. One of them is a Panerai Radiomir Black Seal, which I really love. But the Patek is just so beautiful. If one of you doesn’t ask me to give it back soon, I’m going to walk out of here wearing it. Actually, wait. . . . [retrieves iPhone] Can I take a photo of it on my wrist?”

Name: Todd Bracher
From: New York
Studio location: Brooklyn Navy Yard
Known for: Serving as creative director at Georg Jensen; “Distil Table” for Herman Miller; “The Architect’s Chandelier” for Swarovski; creating 3M Architecture’s award-winning LED lighting installations; packaging for Issey Miyake fragrances; the SodaStream Fountain
Pick: IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII

IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII

Todd says: “I don’t like the Apple Watch, but it opened up my mind to the idea of getting a Garmin watch, which is really big, like 50 mm. It’s funny how dainty another watch feels after that. But the IWC, yeah, this is a proper watch. Quiet, introverted in some ways, while being fiercely precise. I like the [dial] color. The blues tend to be quite polarizing, and this one’s not the most obvious shade…. There’s something about the joy of going backwards, too. I’m in the process of dumbing down my phone, turning off push notifications, that kind of thing. The IWC captures a sophisticated simplicity. That speaks to me.”

Name: Joe Doucet
From: Terrell, Texas
Studio location: DUMBO
Known for: “Duet Task Chair” for Bernhardt; “Alba Decanter” for Nude glassware; “Minim” playing cards for Areaware; the bottle design for SŌTŌ sake; packaging for Hugo Boss bodywear; cofounding the 3D-printed premium household products brand OTHR
Picks: NOMOS Glashütte Metro at Work

NOMOS Glashütte Metro at Work

Joe says: “My first real buy was a Panerai. I got it when I made partner [at New York creative agency KBP]. It was my little treat to myself, you know? Now I’ve got a few watches. Got the vintage [Rolex] Submariner. But my daily go-to is an IWC Portofino. Simple, blue dial. I tend to go for things that look and feel quite understated. The NOMOS, I like the overall aesthetic, especially that little pop of color on the subdial hand. Plus it feels really light on the wrist. I know it’s not the most expensive, but it’s the one I’d go for.”

Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams

The resurgence of cocktail culture has brought a renaissance in classic mixology. Retro champagne recipes, like the French 75 and Royales—and even bubbly communal punches—are finding a contemporary audience. Elegant, crisp, sophisticated. Like a radiant gold watch. But let’s go a bit further.

Sparkling diamonds? Luminous dials? Smartly bronzed cases? They all bring the spirit of delightful libation. They also coordinate perfectly with gilded barware, perfect for whipping up chilled drinks and warm enchanted evenings.

So go ahead, indulge a little. Because, as F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “Too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right.”

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2011 Champagne, $125;

Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback, $18,000;

L’Objet Bambou Ice Tongs, $95;

Alessi Bulla Bottle Opener, $50;

Christofle Silver Plated Champagne Bucket Cooler, $75,500;

Asprey Tell Me How Cocktail Shaker, $10,000;

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller, $17,150;

Georg Jensen Acorn Champagne Sabre, $3,000;

Tiffany & Company Everyday Objects Crazy Straw, from $250;

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100, $27,500;

Gucci Tigers Large Round Metal Tray, $790;

Georg Jensen Bernadotte Cocktail Set, price upon request;

Patek Philippe, Ref. 5124J Gondolo, $21,000;

Craigellachie 17 Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, $186,

Hermès Adage Whiskey Carafe, $1,140;

The Apprentices

Since 1839, Patek Philippe has produced the world’s most coveted, complicated timepieces. Today, the company is cultivating the next generation of elite watchmakers.

By Ashley Muldoon Lavin

“For me, it’s what I want to do as my life’s purpose.”

In a pristine, glass-encased classroom overlooking St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, six young men labor in near silence. Cloaked in identical white lab coats, with their heads bent over their workbenches, they could be mistaken for devotees to some sort of monastic order. But it’s not bibles they are consulting—it’s schematics. And these men aren’t monks. They are student watchmakers and they are praying at the altar of Patek Philippe.

Founded by the Swiss-based luxury watch company in 2015, the Patek Philippe Institute of New York was created to respond to a looming, Catholicism kind of crisis: attrition.  

“We’d been looking for ways for decades to try to find watchmakers,” says Larry Pettinelli, President of Patek Philippe U.S. “We were able to maybe find one person a year. And with our people retiring—sometimes two in a single year—we were never making up any ground.”

The exodus of skilled craftspeople from the workforce affects most luxury brands these days, but Patek has reason to feel especially pained. The last remaining family-owned watch manufacture in Geneva, the company has been operating continuously for nearly 180 years. That long history has allowed Patek to not only perfect its craft—its cases are famously made mostly in-house and are often hand-forged from single pieces of gold or platinum using techniques that date back to the company’s 1839 founding—but also to experiment with it. Patek’s archives feature an array of styles, designs, and complications that other brands, who might focus on a singular look or model, can’t claim to offer.

Collectors, attracted by the unique, limited-edition feel of the company’s releases, line up to plunk down over six figures for new Pateks. And vintage designs—like the rare 1941 steel perpetual calendar chronograph that sold for $11 million last year—continually shatter records at auction.

The result? Patek’s New York City repair shop is scheduled to see more than 10,000 watches in 2017 alone. So it’s not just that good watchmakers are hard to find; it’s that Patek does not have the time to even begin searching for them. To save itself from disaster (not to mention the headaches that come with telling a customer that there is a months-long service delay on his $100,000 timepiece) Patek realized that if it wanted more and better watchmakers, it would have to build them itself—from scratch.

The company broadened its operation in Geneva, opened a school in Shanghai, and then—when a move to their Rockefeller Center offices afforded them the space to include a classroom at the back of their new, expanded workshop—unveiled the Patek Philippe Institute of New York. Then it made two very smart decisions: veteran watchmaker Laurent Junod would serve as the Institute’s director of technical training (“It’s like learning from Carlos Santana how to play guitar,” boasts Pettinelli) and tuition would be free, with no obligation to work for Patek upon graduation.

“That was important,” says Pettinelli. “We wanted to bring in local kids who maybe hadn’t found their path yet and give them some direction.”

It’s a laudable idea—and one that’s paid off spectacularly. The Institute received over 400 applications in its first year and graduated five watchmakers this fall—all of whom accepted positions in Patek’s New York City repair shop upon passing their Level 2 Certification in Geneva. They now perform interventions on mechanical and quartz Pateks on a bench just outside the classroom where they once studied.

The Institute’s second batch of recruits—six young men chosen from 450 applicants this time—sit in that room now. One gave up a lucrative career in banking to attend; one still works nights and weekends as a restaurant manager in order to make ends meet while he is at the school. Another recounts how, at the age of 12, he saw the inside of a pocket watch and had what felt like a religious experience. (He abandoned an engineering program to come to the Institute).

And though they had to endure a months-long interview process and a final, frustrating day of math, logic, and dexterity testing in order to get there, each talks about his new calling with the passion of the freshly converted. “For me, it’s what I want to do as my life’s purpose,” says one. Says another: “Just being able to step into the building is … wow.” One more marvels: “I still have those moments where I can’t believe that this is actually real.” (Patek asked Watch Journal to omit the students’ names. Like the church, it eschews individualism.)

“They came here with complete enthusiasm,” boasts the aforementioned Junod in his endlessly charming Swiss accent.

And that’s a good thing, considering the two-year-long concentrated course of study that awaits them. Monday through Friday these students will work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to master not only the WOSTEP technical skills they would learn at other horology schools, but also the time-honored techniques that Patek watchmakers have passed down for generations. They begin by handmaking the tools they will use for the rest of their careers. It’s a process that takes nine months, and its purpose is to teach them the sensitivity and dexterity required to effectively wield such implements at a micro level. After that, they turn to watches—but not Pateks. They start by taking apart a large pocket watch about 25 times until they understand the theory behind how it works and how to maintain it.

“They will know this movement by heart,” says Junod. “So once they know how this watch works, then we can go to a smaller one. And then a smaller one. And then one with a little complication—a calendar. And then an automatic. And then a ladies’.”

The process goes on and on, getting smaller and more complicated, until, upon their one-year anniversary at the Institute, the students are finally allowed to touch a Patek. They spend the next year memorizing the workings of the company’s quartz and mechanical models until they are finally flown to Geneva to visit Patek’s factories—and to take their Level 2 exam.  

Even when Junod discusses the test—which involves a Patek Philippe watch that has been tricked out with five to seven defects that the students will have to discover and repair before recasing the whole thing—the students never seem less than thrilled. And, later, when Junod talks about his charges, it becomes clear that the feeling is entirely mutual. “Those are great people,” he says. “I really love them.”

Junod is a natural teacher—even he agrees, at one point remarking with delightful Swiss candor: “It fits me perfectly well, yes?” He’s also a great evangelist for what the brand hopes to accomplish with the Institute.

“There is a lot of lost talent everywhere,” says Junod, remarking on what a shame it would be if his hyper-enthusiastic students were still just passing time in jobs they didn’t love. “If all industries could just pick up those people—because they do exist! They do exist and they have a lot to give!”


Watchmakers operate at various levels according to their skill. For Patek’s best and brightest, graduating from the Institute is only the beginning…

After passing their Level 2 exam in Geneva, the Institute’s graduates are ready to perform interventions involving quartz movements and manually wound or self-winding mechanical movements, such as those found on the Patek Philippe Ref. 5116R Men’s Calatrava.

A Level 2 watchmaker must practice for three more years before he can return to Geneva for a Level 3 course and test—though Pettinelli is quick to point out that many never advance to this stage. Those that do will be qualified to service watches like the Patek Philippe Ref. 7130G Ladies World Time, with more complicated movements.

If a watchmaker is truly skilled, and has operated at Level 3 for three or more years, he can attempt to earn a Level Advanced certification at the Geneva headquarters. There, he’ll learn how to manipulate grand complications like those found on the Patek Philippe Ref. 5140P Men’s Perpetual Calendar and how to hand-finish some parts.