Introducing Thomas Perazzi As The New Head of Phillips Watches in Asia
Thomas Perazzi says booking a flight to Hong Kong is one of the best things he did after joining the auction industry. What he found when he arrived, back in 2007, was a small community of collectors with lots of questions that very few could answer.
He stayed there for several months, creating contacts with clients whose influence has since become global, but he believes the Asia market is due another growth spurt.
Perazzi believes there is plenty of interest from young enthusiasts all over Asia. "Auction houses in general are working with very well‐known clients in countries that have always been important, but there’s still a lot of unexplored territory."
The Swiss-Italian auction veteran, who joins Phillips as Head of Watches in Asia after spending more than two years at the helm of Christie’s Geneva, says he’s ready to turn every rock when he returns to Hong Kong permanently.
"I’m thrilled to be going back," says Perazzi. His inaugural sale, The Hong Kong Watch Auction: Five, takes place on November 28, 2017 at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong.
Besides expanding the auction’s network, Perazzi says one of the big challenges will be bringing balance between the contemporary and the vintage watch selection in the Hong Kong sales.
"The future is bright, but there is still a lot to do. Selling a Patek Philippe or a Rolex in Hong Kong is the same as selling a Patek Philippe or a Rolex in Geneva," he says, but "watches from smaller manufacturers that are just as rare and as important need to be better represented and supported in the region."
Perazzi says he cannot wait to take the rostrum later this month. "I really enjoy auctioneering," he says. Perazzi started out as a clerk for Antiquorum, spending two years reporting bids and sales results before becoming an auctioneer in 2009.
Thomas Perazzi in New York during the Winning Icons sale.
"I learned the ins and outs of the business during that time." His first big project, a thematic sale dedicated to Omega, broke several records including the most expensive Omega ever sold publically – a record which fell only last week during the Geneva Watch Auction: SIX.
After Antiquorum, Perazzi spent many years cementing his reputation at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, handling and selling pretty much every reference there is to sell.
His highlight reel reads like a who’s who of historically important politicians and activists. Perazzi has was part of the team that sold John F. Kennedy’s Elgin and Mahatma Ghandi’s Zenith pocket watch sales and oversaw the sales of Jackie Kennedy’s Cartier Tank, and earlier this year, Haile Selassie’s yellow gold ref. 2497.
Perazzi admits joining Phillips did not take much convincing. "It was done over one cup of coffee," he says.
"Aurel and I share the same vision of the market, and we see it going in the same direction. I think thanks to Aurel, the watch department at Phillips has the total support of its auction house. There’s a common goal and a common strategy."
Perazzi was recently in New York to follow the historic sale of Paul Newman’s Newman. "I would have sold everything I own to buy that watch. It is the watch around which our entire industry is built."
Perazzi say he’s a big fan of stainless steel chronographs in general. "The Speedmaster is one of my all‐time favourite watches. The fact that you can buy one for $2,000 and another for $100,000 makes this a magical watch." He also admits "a small weakness" for vintage Breitling watches.
It will be Perazzi’s mission to communicate that passion to those he meets in Hong Kong, and everywhere else he goes in Asia.