"Easy money" seen dropping out of watch auction market

Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:08pm EST
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By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - Prices for luxury watches at auction fell this week as bidders with "easy money" vanished, leaving the market once again dominated by private collectors, Christie's said on Tuesday.

Watches netted 17.8 million Swiss francs ($14.86 million) at the auction house owned by French billionaire Francois Pinault, exceeding the pre-sale estimate. Some 82 percent of 409 lots on offer on Monday night found new owners, which it called a "very healthy result."

Timepieces at rival Sotheby's fetched 6.8 million francs in selective bidding a day earlier with 67.4 percent of 215 lots sold.

"It is clear there has been a correction, but I think the market is more human and more real," Aurel Bacs, international co-head of Christie's watch department, told Reuters.

"Many easy money bidders have disappeared because there is no more Monopoly or play money. Bidders were passionate private collectors, not speculators or people who didn't know what to do with their bonus," he said.

He declined to put an overall figure on the decline, but conceded that the sale would have made more six months ago.


Christie's and Sotheby's had advised sellers to lower their reserve price, or secret minimum, as the financial crisis bites, their top experts said last week.   Continued...