ong before the current domination of the secondary market, Davide Parmegiani had already established himself as a prominent figure. Back in the 1980s in Milan, the young man, hailing from a family of antique jewelry dealers, found his true calling in vintage watchmaking. As he recounts, “he was in the right place at the right time”: Italy during those years boasted a burgeoning community of ardent collectors who would go on to shape the world of watch collecting as we know it today.
He recalls: “There were seven collectors who aspired to build large collections of vintage timepieces, and I became a personal advisor to several of them. Despite my family’s wishes for me to take over our antique jewelry business in Milan, I was determined to open a boutique dedicated solely to vintage watchmaking.” While his expertise was not limited to the Italian market, which still represents a significant portion of his loyal clientele to this day, he travelled extensively around the world, from Australia to the United States, scouring auctions and private collections, thereby expanding his global network.
- Davide Parmegiani has become co-president in 2019 of the Monaco Legend auction house, where he oversees the watch division. He is organising an exceptional sale on 22 and 23 April in the Principality.
In the 1990s, the American market was mainly a seller’s market, offering the opportunity to “acquire a large number of beautiful gold watches from family inheritances.” It wasn’t until the 2000s that this market also became an important scene for collectors. “Throughout my career as a private advisor, I have had the chance to see a large number of exceptional models offered at auction pass through my hands, placing them with my clients,” said the expert. “I have also been able to form friendships with major figures in the collecting world, from John Goldberger to Aurel Bacs.”
After two decades of activity in Milan, Davide Parmegiani moved with his family across the border to Lugano in 2011, where he opened a boutique. This move to Switzerland allowed him to be closer to auction houses such as Antiquorum (founded by Osvaldo Patrizzi, another great Italian specialist who has greatly contributed to shaping the contemporary scene of watch collecting). Another turning point came in 2019, when he met Claude Cohen, the founder of Monaco Legend Auctions. Cohen was looking for someone to develop the watch segment of his business.
With an unparalleled experience, Davide Parmegiani is the man for the job. He partners with Claude Cohen to make Monaco Legend a significant player in the watch industry. To differentiate themselves, they aim to focus almost exclusively on truly vintage models, as Parmegiani emphasizes: “In most current watch auctions, the catalog includes many modern watches due to the high desirability of unavailable recent models. As an expert in complicated watches produced between 1920 and 1980, particularly Rolex, Patek Philippe, Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, and Audemars Piguet, I prefer to focus on my specialty.”
- Yacht-Master prototype model specially engraved to commemorate Rolex’s ten millionth chronometer. This watch, which belonged to the Heiniger family, will be auctioned by Monaco Legend during its next session on 22 and 23 April.
The ninth Monaco Legend watch auction, under the supervision of Davide Parmegiani, will take place on April 22nd and 23rd at the Le Meridien Beach Plaza hotel in Monte-Carlo. Among the models on offer, the top lot is a Rolex Yacht-Master, entirely made of platinum, which turns out to be a prototype ordered by the Heiniger family: André Heiniger became president of Rolex in 1964 and his son Patrick Heiniger succeeded him in 1992. This model precisely dates from this transition period and was made to commemorate the ten millionth chronometer movement produced by the brand, as stated by the inscriptions engraved on the dial and rotor.
“As early as the mid-1950s, Rolex emphasized that it was the first brand to manufacture chronometers,” Davide Parmegiani underscores. “This highlights the importance of having the ten millionth officially certified chronometer in a prototype watch, which has never been offered for sale. Furthermore, the watch is made of the rarest metal, it features a unique dial, and comes with an exceptional provenance directly from the family that made their mark in the history of Rolex.”
In addition to the Rolex Yacht-Master prototype, the Monaco Legend auction will also feature a Patek Philippe Nautilus from John Goldberger’s personal collection. This 3700 reference in white gold was a special order from the Sultan Qaboos of Oman, featuring the Khanjar dagger and swords on the dial. Only three of these watches were specially made for the Sultan, one of the most prolific watch collectors in the world.
Davide Parmegiani expresses his enthusiasm about the upcoming auction, saying, “This is certainly the most beautiful auction catalog we have ever offered, and it will be difficult to top. With this Rolex Yacht-Master prototype, we are giving international buyers the opportunity to acquire a unique piece that may never be seen on the market again, making it a very wise purchase.”
- This Nautilus model, reference 3700 in white gold, was a special commission from Sultan Qaboos of Oman. It is from the collection of John Goldberger.
After Italy and Switzerland, the 57-year-old specialist has found Monaco to be a welcoming destination. He explains, “Not only is the quality of life exceptional here, but there is also a strong business community that I didn’t anticipate before moving here. Monaco is more than just a tourist destination - it’s a bustling city that attracts exceptional clientele throughout the year. In fact, the city is in such high demand that it’s even expanding out to sea, with thousands of people seeking to establish themselves here.”
- A Patek Philippe World Time 2523 with original box and papers is also among the highlights of the sale.
Over the decades, the expert has also assembled an exceptional private collection, which he does not rule out exhibiting one day. In the meantime, he is participating in the active development of Monaco Legend on the watchmaking scene - as a family: his son has also settled in the Principality and his daughter, who has remained in Milan, has just opened the Italian office of the auction house...
The Exclusive Timepieces auction of Monaco Legend will take place on 22 and 23 April at the Le Meridien Beach Plaza Hotel in Monte Carlo. Previews will take place on Thursday 20th (11am to 8pm), Friday 21st (10.30am to 8pm) and Saturday 22nd (10.30am to 12.30pm).