The key to buying (and selling) top luxury watch brands at auctions is condition and make. “Make” is not just about who made it, which is crucial, but how it is made and how it is finished. The classic brands are still tops at auction. “We have noticed that rare Rolex wristwatches with unusual dials in excellent condition have achieved extraordinary prices previously unheard of for Rolex watches,” says Antiquorum watch director Julien Schaerer.
Patek Philippe fares equally well. At Christie’s, a Grand Complication pocket watch made by the brand fetched a world auction record in June for a Patek Philippe Grand Complication and a record for any watch at Christie’s. What’s inside the watch also counts, especially if it is a specialty of the brand, such as a Patek Philippe perpetual calendar. At Sotheby’s, a Patek Philippe platinum automatic minute repeater/perpetual calendar fetched $461,000.
Many recently made watches are now appearing at auction, which reflects the fact that the past 10 years represents a new era of creativity and technological development in watchmaking. Today’s masterpieces are modern masterpieces. Here are some of the top lots sold so far this year at auction.
The Patek Philippe Stephen S. Palmer Grande Complication, at Christie’s for $2,251,750. In 18k pink gold, with a minute repeater, perpetual calendar, split-seconds chronograph and grande and petite sonnerie. The watch was manufactured in 1898 for industrialist Stephen S. Palmer.
The Rolex Ref. 6263 Gold Daytona Paul Newman with Prototype Lemon Dial, made in the late 1960s. In 18k gold, with round button chronograph, registers, tachometer and black bezel. Sold at Antiquorum for $841,300.
The Rolex Ref. 6269/8 Diamond Cosmograph Oman, sold to Oman in 1985, in 18k gold, with round button chronograph and registers. The bezel is set with 44 diamonds and the dial is set with 240 diamonds and nine sapphires. Sold at Antiquorum for $470,500.
A rare Chopard 18k white gold and baguette diamond set limited edition tourbillon with power reserve, made circa 1997. Sold at Sotheby’s for $461,000.
Patek Philippe Ref. 1665 Platinum Automatic Minute Repeating Perpetual Calendar, in a tonneau case with retrograde date and moonphase display, made circa 1997. Sold by Sotheby’s for $461,000.