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Michael Schumacher’s watches set for Christie’s auction block

Christie’s The Collection of Michael Schumacher

We get a rare glimpse into the German racing legend’s watch collection through two of his eight watches that will go under the hammer in May.

It’s auction season over at Christie’s, with its spring sale kicking off on March 27. However, what’s really of interest isn’t the 118 lots that went under the hammer in Hong Kong, exciting as they were. The auction news that has really got the second-hand watch market in a tizzy is about the select timepieces belonging to Michael Schumacher, released to mark the 30th anniversary of the German racing legend’s first Formula One Driver’s Championship win in 1994. 

Christie’s The Collection of Michael Schumacher
Eight watches from Schumacher’s personal collection will be auctioned in May, including this piece unique F.P. Journe Vagabondage 1 Model and personalised Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph (Ref. 25960BC).

Urbane and sophisticated in his own way, Schumacher displayed a quiet passion for watches, amassing an enviable assemblage over the years. Now, his family has agreed to part with just eight, which will feature at The Rare Watches auction on May 13 at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva. As per Christie’s, it will “highlight key moments in the career of Michael Schumacher, demonstrating the unique quality of this collection.” 

Netflix Schumacher
Released in 2021, Netflix documentary Schumacher offers insight into the racing legend’s illustrious career.

Non-F1 fans might need some reminding of Schumacher’s remarkable career in the sport and, therefore, the potential value of the watches he once owned. Making his F1 debut with Jordan at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix, he won his first Drivers’ Championship in 1994 with Benetton. After moving to Ferrari in 1996, Schumacher went on to five consecutive titles from 2000 to 2004, including an unprecedented sixth and seventh title, breaking several records. He retired from the sport at the end of 2006, although he later made a brief return with Mercedes from 2010 to 2012. Netflix documentary Schumacher provides a brilliant retrospective of his career for those so inclined. 

Since his catastrophic skiing accident in 2013, Schumacher has been notably absent from the public eye, making the news that his family has consigned some of his watches for auction a welcome surprise. The complete collection of eight watches is expected to include Rolex and Omega (he was the latter brand’s ambassador for many years), but the only details provided as of now are for the Audemars Piguet and F.P. Journe that are up for grabs. 

Schumacher’s F.P. Journe Vagabondage 1 Model
Schumacher’s F.P. Journe Vagabondage 1 Model is a piece unique with a platinum case and personalised dial in Ferrari’s signature red.

The piece unique F.P. Journe Vagabondage 1 Model, features a platinum case and personalised dial in Ferrari’s signature red. In lieu of traditional hour markers, the marque’s famous prancing horse shield sits at 9 o’clock, Schumacher’s helmet at 3 o’clock, a date window at 12 o’clock, and seven FIA globe emblems representing one of the star’s F1 World Championships, the last five of which was won consecutively from 2000 to 2005. The watch was specially commissioned by Ferrari’s Jean Todt (a good friend of Schumacher’s and the team principal and subsequent CEO), and a dedication engraved on the caseback reads “Xmas 2004 – Jean Todt for my friend Michael Schumacher”.

Schumacher’s Audemars Piguet Royal Oak  Chronograph (Ref. 25960BC)
Schumacher’s Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph (Ref. 25960BC) has a white gold case and personalised dial.

The ultimate trophy for Audemars Piguet collectors and Formula 1 fans alike, a white gold Royal Oak Chronograph has a similarly personalised dial – Schumacher’s race helmet features in the sub-dial at 9 o’clock, Ferrari’s prancing horse at 6 o’clock, and the counter at 3 o’clock carries six small stars for each of the World Championship wins Schumacher had racked up by 2003. This watch was also a Christmas gift from Todt; engraved on the watch’s caseback is “J. Todt pour M. Schumacher, Noel 2003”. Schumacher joined the AP family sometime in 2010; the collaborative Royal Oak Concept Laptimer Michael Schumacher was launched in the years after his accident at his family’s request.

It’s hard to say how much the watches will sell for at the auction in May, but F1 watches do tend to do well – Todt’s own collection of 111 watches, for example, raised a remarkable CHF31.8 million at Christie’s in 2022. What also makes an estimate difficult at this stage is that only the details of two of the eight watches have been released, one of which is an extremely rare timepiece. Schumacher isn’t buying any more watches, though, and while no one actually knows his situation at the moment, we doubt there will be any more Drivers Championships to commemorate. Schumacher made his name at a very different time for F1, and the watches he acquired also represent a different era of watchmaking. Christie’s has not applied pre-sale estimates to the watches, indicating that this auction is going to be wildly exciting for everyone involved.

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