So you all know about the steel Lange 1 with black dial that Christie’s consigned – I wrote about it way back here.  This is a monstrously rare and special watch in the Lange community – and IMHO, one of the coolest watches you can own in the world of Lange. The watch belonged to a well known Lange collector in the U.S., with direct and crystal clear provenance from Pisa in Italy – it was as good as you could’ve asked for, really. Christie’s put an estimate of $200,000 to $400,000 on the watch, and frankly, I think that was less than ideal. Why? Steel Langes are special watches, for sure, but this estimate is simply beyond what anyone, including the market, it seems, deems reasonable for a watch like this. If a silver dial steel Lange One, the most accepted style of steel L1, sells at say $130k to $150k, can you really justify a top estimate of $400,000? 

Now, I am sure Christie’s chose to give the consignor such an estimate to set the stage for a big sale, but here, it seemed to have the opposite effect. All the collectors I spoke with, including two who actually bid on the lot, scoffed at the high end of the estimate – and it seemed to drive potential bidders away. The watch hammered at $190,000 – below the low estimate, and sold, all in, for $233,000. Now let’s be clear – this is a great price for any Lange 1, even a steel Lange 1, and it’s the new world record for an L1. Had the estimate been $100,000 to $200,000, we’d be singing praises of this result – but at an estimate of $200k to $400k, it feels a little lackluster. Watch auctions, as with life, are all about managing expectations, and this one, I think, could’ve been managed a little better.