It was in the gold trade that he first came to learn about watches, a business that he turned into a lifelong passion.
In several decades, Sfeir’s love affair with exceptional timepieces has not waned. The thrill of the hunt has led him to some of the “20th century’s most important watches” like Patek Philippe’s Sky Moon Tourbillon Reference 5001T and Gerald Genta’s ref. 3700 “Albino Prototype,” ancestor to Patek Philippe’s Nautilus line of which Sfeir owns nearly all the references. His most beloved timepiece, a 1942 Rolex split-seconds chronograph Reference 4113, reflects the road travelled since his first Rolex, a Reference 6694 he bought for about $80.
Besides his impressive collection, Sfeir has been a steadfast supporter of fine and mostly independent watchmaking. His ongoing backing of the project known as “Naissance d’une Montre” has helped raise millions to preserve artisanal watchmaking. His admiration of independent watchmakers has brought him closer to Philippe Dufour and François-Paul Journe, even partnering with Journe in Dubai and Beirut.
From a front-row seat in charity auctions, Sfeir has made generous contributions to any number of causes. His heartfelt support of the Only Watch auction to benefit research in the fight against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy has been visible from the start. He has helped bring millions to Only Watch, backing its founder Luc Pettavino in Monaco, and placing many winning bids on the unique timepieces auctioned in multiples of their estimates.
Sfeir’s position as a longstanding jury member of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève is evidence of his influence in the watch industry and the respect that he commands in its most prestigious circles. Still, his ultimate dream has yet to be fulfilled. Sfeir’s wish is to have his own museum: a safe place to show his watches, where people can come and enjoy them, almost as much as he does.
*On the occasion of GMT Magazine and WorldTempus' 20th anniversary, we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English, with a 10% discount if you use the following code: WT2021.
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