Guido Mondani needs no introduction. Founder of a publishing house in 1992, as a watch enthusiast and collector, with his detailed works and guides he gave life to collecting as we know it today, fueling the enthusiasm of several generations of watch enthusiasts.

Guido Mondani's private collection will be auctioned by Phillips “Bacs & Russo” during the Geneva Watch Auction: XIX, which will be held on11-12 May 2024

Aurel Bacs & Guido Mondani

On the occasion of the preview of this special exhibition, held at Phillips' Milan headquarters, we were able to admire his carefully selected pieces and had the pleasure of having a chat with Guido Mondani. In addition to focusing on the auction, we spoke with Guido about his side as a collector and the choices that led him to select his watches... with some advice for those who are now approaching collecting.

MATTEO BEGA

First of all, I wanted to ask you what was the driving force behind the birth of a collector like you?

GUIDO MONDANI

Until I was 21 I didn't want to be a slave to time and I never had a watch. I bought a Cartier the year of my 21st birthday which is now present in this auction. In 1986, my wife at the Mercante in Fiera in Parma gave me an automatic Rolex Moon Phase and from there, since I knew nothing about watches, being a publisher, I began to delve into the subject with research and wrote to all the Rolex dealers in the area. world asking if they had any catalogs to sell. Many responded to me and sold me the catalogues, others gave them to me as gifts and from there the real research began.

These catalogs that I still have today start from 1951 until 2024. Year by year, comparing and finding the years of production and the presence in the catalog of many references; I obtained all this information directly from the old catalogues: prices, references, configurations of bracelets and dials... This was a great help in collecting all the information which I subsequently disseminated through my books.

MATTEO BEGA

Correct me if I'm wrong, in that period there was nothing similar to catalogue, the watch was seen and appreciated as a tool or design object, not a collector's item.

GUIDO MONDANI

You are absolutely right, at the time there was nothing, no information to be able to catalog or better identify a watch. With my research I was able to provide certainties. 

MATTEO BEGA

You managed to transform the concept of the watch as a "tool" or design object to that of collecting, highlighting particularities or "defects", which today make a specific watch or a specific reference famous.

GUIDO MONDANI

That's right Matteo, I published the first book on Rolex in 1992 and sold over 100.000 copies of books around the world, 20000 customers around the world: on average a single customer buys 5 books. I was truly satisfied with the work done.

I have always had information from Rolex too, the serial table for example I was the one who invented it and shaped it making it safe and reliable, I sent the serial number and case number to my Rolex contact so I could trace the year of production... I sent them more than 500 serial and cash numbers. Back then everything was relatively simpler... Today I'm on the waiting list to get the only watch I really want: the Daytona Platinum with sapphire crystal case back, a truly modern collector's piece, the first Rolex with a transparent case back.

MATTEO BEGA

You who saw the birth of collecting and were also involved in it first hand, what do you think about the current situation?

GUIDO MONDANI

In the last period we have seen an increase in prices on modern items, given the disproportionate demand and speculation. I always advise my customers to buy what they like and that creates emotions, the best investment ever: the satisfaction of looking at a watch that they like and without defects.

Lot 117: Circa 1954 Rolex Oyster Chronographe 'Jean-Claude Killy' In 18k Pink Gold. Estimate: CHF 400,000 – 800,000

MATTEO BEGA

Speaking about the collection that will go up for auction at Phillips on May 11th and 12th in Geneva, I asked myself some questions as an enthusiast: Are you selling part, or almost all, of your collection... Guido Mondani diversifies and devotes himself to art collecting or are there other reasons? 

GUIDO MONDANI

Very simple. With the first auction at Antiquorum in 2006 I had one of my greatest satisfactions: all the lots sold, 309 lots sold with 2 world records... Great satisfaction, after the auction I was walking down Via Montenapoleone and a gentleman stopped me and said: "You Is it Guido Mondani?” “I bought this at his auction…”, a truly enormous satisfaction. People still appreciate my critical thinking.

MATTEO BEGA

At the time he relied on Antiquorum, now on Phillips and then on Aurel Bacs and his team. Why this choice?

GUIDO MONDANI

I agreed every detail with Aurel Bacs, from setting reserve prices to catalog graphics, the latter of particular importance to me given my background as a publisher. However, I set an essential condition: that he and only he should personally direct the auction of all the lots. I couldn't have done without the best, the one who manages to arouse unique emotions in me.

Aurel Bacs – Senior Consultant Phillips watches dept.

MATTEO BEGA

With what criteria did you select the watches in the collection? 

GUIDO MONDANI

I have always given considerable weight to quality and, even 1% of doubt in purchasing a watch limited me and led to not completing the purchase. Then you also need luck...

I'll give you some examples, we have a Rolex Daytona 6269 up for auction. I found myself in Lugano walking with my wife and by chance I passed by Bucherer and in the window they had this splendid and rare watch, I was not yet a collector like now... List price of 49000CHf with a 50% discount to be applied. I asked my wife if she might like a watch with a dial and bezel studded with diamonds... Sometimes it's just luck that makes you find yourself in the right place at the right time.

Lot 13: A Circa 1985 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6269 In 18k Yellow Gold. Estimate: CHF 600,000 – 1,200,000

MATTEO BEGA

Beyond its value, is there a watch you are particularly fond of present in this auction?

GUIDO MONDANI

Hard question. Many modern watches have been the culmination of important events in my life, such as the birth of my niece or another one bought at auction with the date of my daughter Giorgia's birth engraved in 1984, a Seadweller with box and guarantee... I am attached to all of them , a bit like the Jaeger LeCoultre REVERSO with the caseback engraved with the logo of my publishing house.

Lot 13: A Circa 1990 Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso in Yellow Gold Ref. 140.105.1. Estimate: CHF3,500 – 7,000 

MATTEO BEGA

Do you have one piece of advice or more to give to young people who are interested in getting into the world of watches or watch collecting? 

GUIDO MONDANI

Certainly, I advise against buying a watch just as an investment, you have to like it every time you look at the watch on your wrist and not think about the valuations or hope for "next year it will be worth double". They may be disappointed about this, but if you buy a watch that you like and that makes you proud every time you look at it, well, that's a good purchase where you can't go wrong.

Lot 124: A Circa 1938 Eberhard & Co. Split-Seconds Chronograph In 18k Yellow Gold. Estimate: CHF 20,000 – 40,000

MATTEO BEGA

Instead for all collectors who want to approach the world of vintage?

GUIDO MONDANI

The world of Vintage has many pitfalls and watches must be carefully examined by professional experts and sometimes I advise against, or maybe I'm wrong, having watches serviced without inquiring about the replacement of certain parts such as the bezel.

MATTEO BEGA

Will the parent companies update themselves by making more information available on the world of vintage and collectible watches?

GUIDO MONDANI

I don't think they will ever do it, there is no real interest in vintage from the parent companies who want to follow and improve current products as best as possible, excluding the past.


The PHILLIPS auction in collaboration with “Bacs & Russo” – The Geneva Watch: XIX – will take place on 11 and 12 May at the Hotel President, in Quai Wilson 47 in the center of Geneva. The auction includes more than 215 of the best watches in the world including the “Guido Mondani Collection”. The entire catalog is available for consultation on the Phillips website