A Record-Breaking Weekend At The Geneva Watch Auctions

A Record-Breaking Weekend At The Geneva Watch Auctions

Martin Green
By Martin Green June 29, 2020

This weekend in Geneva, the traditional watch auctions took place after being postponed initially. Things were different than before, as many Covid-19 precautions were still in place. Also, a lot of collectors and dealers could not travel to the auctions themselves due to various travel restrictions. This also meant that they could not examine the watches themselves before the sale, although various digital initiatives tried to give them as much information as possible. That made it that the auctions could definitely be seen as a test on how the outbreak of Covid-19 would impact the vintage watch market.

jean-claude-biver-patek-philippe-collection-1518-2499-1579-a-f1f0ed98-216c-4375-8553-0a529dcd6602_s1400x0Photo Credit: Phillips

We didn’t have to worry because Phillips sold all the lots in the catalog, achieving a total amount of CHF 30 million. Almost a third of this came from the four watches that belonged to the private collection of Jean-Claude Biver. Fetching CHF 387,500 was the Ref.96HU, a prototype watch Patek Philippe used to develop their acclaimed World Time watches. It is one of two, with the other one part of the Patek Philippe collection. Almost two million was the winning bid on Biver’s Patek Philippe Ref.1579. This charming chronograph is only one of three known to be crafted in platinum with its charismatic ‘spider lugs.’ Tempting was also the Ref.1518, which combined a pink gold case with a pink colored dial, which ended up being sold at CHF 3,380,000. With that amount, it also stayed ahead of the fourth watch from Biver’s collection, a Ref.2499 in superb condition, which sold for 2,600,000.

possibly-unique-patek-philippe-aquanaut-ref-5065-geneva-watc-270e9dc3-ff60-476c-be38-c674146a47c9_s1400x0Photo Credit: Phillips

While these four watches where among the highlights of the auction, there was more. Two Aquanauts, one in blue and one in dark red, that came forward out of the very exclusive customization program that Patek Philippe offers only to a select part of its clients, sold for CHF 131,250 each. Journe was also in demand, as a Tourbillon Souverain “Souscription” sold for CHF 1,400,000, which is almost five times its high estimate. Zenith did very well, achieving CHF 40,000 for a rare Ref.A3817, and CHF 43,750 for a Ref. SP 1301, both early models of their famed El Primero. Surprisingly, relatively new watches sold also at high prices, as for example a Rolex GMT-Master II “Batman,” from August of last year, sold for an impressive CHF 25,000, and a GMT-Master II “Pepsi” Ref.126710BLRO also did well, fetching CHF 33,750. This makes it that the state of the market still seems to be outstanding and that the Covid-19 crisis seems to have had no impact if only an upward one.