People: Schumacher auction: Eight watches and a bargain

30 years after Michael Schumacher’s first Formula 1 victory, his family is auctioning off eight rare watches from his collection in Geneva. Schumacher collected watches and owns rare pieces, some of which were made especially for him by the best watchmakers in the world. The auction will take place next Monday in Geneva.

It’s difficult to say whether the celebrity effect is driving up the price of the watches, said watch expert at Christie’s auction house, Remi Guillemin, to the dpa. The estimated prices per piece – between 150,000 and 2 million francs – have no celebrity premium, he assures. “But no matter whose wrist the watch graces, they will always remember that it belonged to Michael, one of the greatest racing drivers of all time,” he says.

The auction is in Geneva, less than 40 kilometers from the family’s home on Lake Geneva. Schumacher himself has not appeared in public since a serious skiing accident at the end of 2013. The family doesn’t talk about how he’s doing. “Of course we invited the family to the auction,” says Guillemin. But it is hardly expected that wife Corinna or children Gina-Maria or Mick, racing drivers themselves, will take a seat in the auction room of the noble Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues.

Ferrari watch and a bargain

On offer is a model from the F.P. Journe manufacturer with a dial in Ferrari’s red color with symbols of his seven world championship titles. It was a Christmas present from the then Ferrari team boss Jean Todt. Estimated price: one to two million francs (just over two million euros). A second gift from Todt is cheaper: an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph. Estimated price: 150 to 250,000 francs. A rare Paul Newman Daytona watch from Rolex is estimated at at least 200,000 francs.

Theoretically, there is also a bargain on offer: a box for five F.P.Journe watches, which are being auctioned off individually. “We estimate its price at 5,000 francs,” says Guillemin. The starting price for the bidding competition will probably be significantly lower. However, he thinks it is quite possible that collectors will want to buy the entire set and the box as well. Anyone who has already put more than a million francs on the table for the watches is unlikely to look at the change in the box – so it could change hands for significantly more than the estimated price.

If the eight watches are sold at the upper end of their estimated price, the proceeds would be more than four million francs. If interested parties have deep pockets and compete with each other, the proceeds could be much more. It is not known what prompted the family to have the watches auctioned.

Collectors all over the world are electrified

Not that there are any signs of financial problems. Michael Schumacher was one of the highest paid athletes in the world. Forbes magazine estimated his income during his active time at a total of one billion dollars. It can be assumed that Schumacher invested it well: he was an advertising agent for an investment consulting firm for years. The family has properties in Switzerland, Mallorca and the USA, among other places.

Christie’s services were not in vain, especially since the auction house specifically sent the watches around the world and presented them to the public, for example in Taiwan and New York. How much this costs is of course subject to strict discretion, as Guillemin says.

Collectors all over the world were electrified when the auction was announced: “Many Europeans, of course also from Germany, and Americans, but also many interested parties from Asia and the Middle East are there,” he says. The auction house also did a lot of advertising. The higher the price, the better the deal for Christie’s: the buyer has to pay a premium to the auction house on the price at which the hammer falls. Depending on the price, it is between 20 and 26 percent.