Sotheby’s Historical Watch Auction Breaches Expectations, from Bidders to Values

The highly anticipated Sotheby’s auction of watches from famous collectors Reginald H. Fullerton Jr. and his grandfather Henry Graves Jr. proved to be a hit yesterday when its grand total sales went beyond the estimated three to five million dollars. It reached an exact value of $8,339,813, selling all 61 lots.

Graves’ Patek Philippe 18k yellow gold tonneau minute repeating wristwatch engraved with the Graves family coat-of-arms led the persistent bidding at a record-breaking $2.99 million (way up from its estimated values of $600,000 to $800,000). Watch dealer Bob Maron, who specializes in vintage Patek Philippes, called this timepiece “the most important watch in the auction” in a pre-event report.

The runner-up was another rare Patek Philippe, an 18k yellow gold center seconds perpetual calendar wristwatch with moon-phases and applied “cubist” numerals. It was sold for $722,500, more than twice its low estimate value of $300,000, to an Asian private collector.

For the first time, Asians have been prominent in watch-collecting. Maron said Asian collectors “are voracious and aggressive bidders. It’s definitely going to reset the entire vintage market.” And they did, after owning five of the top 11 lots sold, according to highest bid.

Sotheby’s Senior Vice President John Reardon noticed a phenomenal pre-sale excitement he hasn’t seen since 1999, the last time they sold a Graves watch. Undoubtedly, this led to the white glove auction.

The collection involved other singular watches by Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Breguet. These were initially collected by Graves (1868-1953) then passed on to his grandson, who passed in March this year.

Sources: BloombergBusinessweek, Sotheby’s | Photos credit: Sotheby’s

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