Sotheby’s Makes Changes at Top of Watch Division

WatchesJun 10, 2024

Sotheby’s Makes Changes at Top of Watch Division

Sam Hines returns to the auction house as chairman, watches, while Geoff Hess moves up to the role of global head of watches.

Sotheby’s watch executives Sam Hines and Geoff Hess
Sam Hines, left, is now Sotheby’s chairman of watches while Geoff Hess has been promoted to global head of watches.
New York—Sotheby’s has announced two changes at the top of its Watch Division.

The auction house said Friday that watch industry veteran Sam Hines is returning to the company as chairman, watches, while Geoff Hess has been promoted to global head of watches.

Hines began his career in the auction market and watch industry at Sotheby’s in 1997. He is rejoining the company from online watch auctioneer Loupe This, where he has served as managing director since 2022.

Previously, he was the worldwide head of watches at Sotheby’s, international head of watches for Phillips, and international co-head of the watch department at Christie’s. 

According to Sotheby’s, Hines has spearheaded some of the most important watch sales of the past 15 years, including the 2016 sale of a stainless steel Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 for $11 million, then the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction. 

As chairman of Sotheby’s Watch Division, Hines will focus on securing major collections, serving as principal auctioneer for the auction house’s sales globally, and mentoring the next generation of watch specialists and auctioneers. 

He will begin his new role at the end of June. He will be based in Hong Kong and report directly to the global head of Sotheby’s Luxury Division.

“I am tremendously excited to return to Sotheby’s, a place that is both familiar and new, as the company continues to chart forward-looking and innovative paths around the world,” Hines said.

“I look forward to working with Geoff and our talented global team to further strengthen our expertise and sourcing capabilities to meet the rapidly expanding client base.”

 Related stories will be right here … 

Hess is being promoted to global head of watches from his current role of senior vice president and head of watches in the Americas.

Sotheby’s said his promotion follows a series of recent successes with single-owner collections, including last week’s auction of watches belonging to “Rocky” star Sylvester Stallone, which was 100 percent sold by lot.

A lawyer by trade, Hess joined Sotheby’s in August 2023 from Phillips Watches Department in New York, where he was a senior international specialist.  

Prior to that, he was the CEO of pre-owned and vintage timepiece marketplace Analog/Shift and was instrumental in its growth and 2020 acquisition by Watches of Switzerland. 

He also is a dedicated watch collector—he personally purchased one of Stallone’s Patek Philippe watches—and founder of the “Rolliefest” global gathering in New York, which last took place in September 2023. 

He’s also an academy member of the Grand Prix d’Horologerie de Genève.

In his new role as global head of watches, Hess will continue to develop and execute a growth strategy for the watch category worldwide, managing the regional leaders across auction, retail and private sales, and will maintain his client relationships with the community. 

His promotion is effective immediately, and he also will report directly to the global head of Sotheby’s Luxury Division.

Hess said, “It is an honor to assume this new position, as I approach my one-year anniversary at Sotheby’s. Leveraging my managerial experience and knowledge as a dedicated collector and active member of the watch community for decades, I am committed to fostering a team built on collaboration, creativity, and unparalleled expertise. 

“I look forward to working with Sam and our passionate global watches team to provide our clients with the best service possible, and work towards establishing Sotheby’s at the center of watch culture.” 

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