The Collectors: Paul Boutros
Phillips’s deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, maintains his own collection of exceptional timepieces
Paul Boutros, Phillips’s deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, has been enthralled by timepieces for as long as he can remember. The son of a collector, he saw an IWC pocket watch for the first time when he was around ten. “I’ll never forget opening the case and seeing the gilt bridges and the ticking balance wheel,” he says. “From that moment, I had to learn as much about watches as I possibly could.” Trained in electrical engineering, Boutros worked at a top engineering firm before embarking on a major career shift, joining Phillips in 2014 and helping establish and build the watch department.
In October 2017, Boutros led Phillips’s inaugural New York watch auction where Paul Newman’s legendary Rolex Paul Newman Daytona sold for $17.8 million; the highest result ever for a vintage wristwatch sold at auction. “I think wristwatches were sort of an undiscovered gem of a hobby that few people knew,” says Boutros of the watch market’s dramatic ascension. “When I was young, I was like the freak amongst my friends for loving watches. Then watches began to enter the mainstream, and this secret world that we always loved became discovered.”
Favorite finds: A Rolex “Kew A” ref. 6210, which boasts one of the most precise mechanical movements ever sold to the public. “It was made to pass the most stringent chronometer tests that were designed for large shipboard watches and clocks. Only 24 were made, and when I found one, I was just elated,” he says.
Another favorite is his Vacheron Constantin first-generation Overseas, one of three custom-made left-handed watches from 1996 that were gifted to Johann Rupert, the chairman of Richemont, which bought the brand that year. He also owns a handsome Chronomètre Contemporain Rexhep Rexhepi, the first timepiece the rising-star watchmaker ever made under his own name, as well as a first-generation Chronomètre à Résonance by F. P. Journe.
Timeless quest: “There have been many that got away. There was a very early Daytona known as the Rolex Double Swiss Underline from 1963; a Rolex Submariner ref. 5510, a very rare piece known as a James Bond Submariner from about 1958; and a Philippe Dufour Simplicity, which is now considered one of the greatest simple time-only watches of the modern era.”
Wish list: “I dream of owning a minute repeater from Patek Philippe or a vintage one from Vacheron Constantin.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2023 Late Fall Issue under the headline “The Collectors.” Subscribe to the magazine.