If you’ve ever even thought about buying your first Rolex at auction, you’ve probably been put off by something called the “buyer’s premium”, a fee of about 25 percent which auction houses tack on to all winning bids – and which can all of a sudden make that $5,000 bargain into a $6,250 liability. Paul Altieri, founder of Bob’s Watches, who owns one of the world’s largest and most important Rolex collections, doesn’t buy at auctions sometimes for that very reason. And that partly fueled his decision to get into the auction game himself this month, without the extra fees that deter so many young collectors, many of whom buy their first Rolex replica watches at his online Rolex boutique.
For his first ever auction, running online for one week only from Sept. 5–12, Altieri partnered with vintage replica Rolex expert Eric Wind to select 10 essential high-end watches from his personal official Rolex collection — all of which are in excellent condition. Then he added two of the most desired modern Rolex models, a Daytona and a GMT-Master, for which there is a lengthy waiting list, to make 12 replica watches in all, representing nearly every iconic piece that fake Rolex has produced in the past 60 years. From the Rolex Submariner and Rolex Datejust to the replica Rolex GMT-Master II and Rolex Explorer. The only thing missing is a little yellow gold in this sea of stainless steel. “Unless you’re a big money collector, buying a vintage replica Rolex timepiece from a major auction house these days can be an intimidating experience,” Altieri tells AskMen. “We don’t have the same kind of overhead, so I was able to do away with all the fees and extras that have taken the thrill out of starting a collection this way.”
Another rebellious move – and one that probably has the big auction houses cringing – is that Altieri is offering all of the fake watches at no reserve, meaning they’ll be sold for whatever bid is highest, no questions asked. And starting bids on all 12 wristwatches are well below the market price. “Essentially some lucky bidder could walk away with a major deal,” Altieri tells us. “That just doesn’t happen at Christie’s or Sotheby’s where they won’t even tell you what the reserve is, and it’s all designed to protect their profits. Is it possible I’ll lose money this way? It could happen, but I want collectors at every level to be able to get in on the action. When I first got into the Rolex replica game prices were a fraction of what they are now, and I’d like to give someone else a chance at the score of a lifetime on a really cool watch.”
The twelve pieces selected by Altieri and Wind include three Rolex GMT-Masters, a Rolex Milgauss, a Rolex Explorer, three Rolex Submariners, a Rolex Sea-Dweller, and three Rolex Daytonas. The rarest watch of the bunch is a rare pre-owned Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona Ref. 6239 made in 1969, the same model worn by the late, great actor, which is one of only a few existing examples with its original box and papers (all the other 11 replica watches have theirs as well). With a starting bid of $175,000, the Newman could easily fetch $250,000 and would be the crown jewel of any classic vintage fake Rolex collection. It even comes with its original price tag of $250, which should leave little doubt in anyone’s mind about what a great investment these watches can be.