Sotheby’s is familiar with the price-boosting effects of space. The auction house is ready auctions of well-traveled Omega Speedmasters (famously, the official watch of NASA) and watches of former astronauts to massive sales. As you know, the square is now a playground for the super-rich – and presumably also the slightly less rich, who can’t afford the $55 million it costs to go on a private mission, but might settle for a watch that did it. “More than fifty years have passed since the first successful human space flight, and in that time only a select few have earned the privilege of seeing Earth from outer space, making the feat of ‘gathering space’ one of the the fastest growing sectors of our market,” said Janet Tham, Sotheby’s watch specialist. That’s why watch brands are eager to make it so space. In addition to Omega and this Jacob & Co. IWC also designed pieces for the Inspiration4 mission that entered orbit last September.
Jacob & Co.’s Astronomia line was always destined for the outer limits of the Earth’s atmosphere. The watch that Jacob & Co. made in rose and white gold or dressed up with diamonds, has a space-like view: a moon-shaped diamond and a sphere painted as the earth rotates around Astronomia’s dial.
Despite the design on the theme and its newfound provenance, the watch’s value at auction remained relatively earthbound. Sotheby’s reports that over 20 bidders attended the vigil, with a final sale price of $441,000. In a vacuum, that’s a lot of money – although it’s worth pointing out that Jacob & Co. watches eclipse that figure regularly. In 2015, when Jacob & Co. released a rose-gold version of the Astronomia, it set the retail price at around $548,000, Therefore ABlogtoWatch.
So what gives? It could simply be a case of bad timing – prices too even the most sought-after watches are faltering at the moment. Or this could be a bigger statement about what collectors want out of their auction pieces. When it comes to watches, perhaps not all space missions are created equal.