Meet The Most Expensive Wrist Watch Ever Auctioned: Patek Philippe ref.1518

Meet The Most Expensive Wrist Watch Ever Auctioned: Patek Philippe ref.1518

Adrienne Faurote
By Adrienne Faurote November 15, 2016

Thirteen very intense minutes, that was how long last weekend two bidders on the phone dueled to get their hands on the Patek Philippe ref.1518. When auctioneer Aurel Bacs finally hammered off, a record was broken. With a little over $11.100.000,- this stainless steel Patek Philippe ref.1518 became the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction.

Detail of the incredible dial that would inspire the design of complicated Patek’s for decades to come

A unique watch

We already predicted that this auction would not be for the faint of heart, but that it was going to be this intense, nobody would have thought. This probably included Phillips, the auction house that sold the Patek, because they had the watch estimated at 3 million CHF. What makes this watch so special is a variety of factors. First of all, this Patek Philippe is the very first wrist watch that featured both a perpetual calendar as well as a chronograph that was produced in series. A very modest serie by the way, with only 281 of these watches ever made.

Patek Philippe ref.1518 in yellow gold

Made in gold

Of these 281 yellow gold makes up the vast majority of them with 243 crafted from this precious metal. This has a great impact on the price. Although these watches are still quite rare, their price is more modest. Philips also auctioned off a yellow gold version of ref.1518, and although that watch also went above its estimate, it was sold for $600.000,-.

Patek Philippe ref.1518 in pink gold
Patek Philippe ref.1518 in pink gold

In pink gold, the ref.1518 is more rare, with only 34 examples made. That is why the pink gold Patek Philippe ref.1518 that Philips also had up for auction this time fetched $1.474.000,-

Patek Philippe ref.1518 in steel
Patek Philippe ref.1518 in steel

….and steel

Only 4 of the ref.1518 watches were crafted in stainless steel. Although not as precious as gold or platinum, Patek Philippe rarely uses a stainless steel case apart from its sports models, making them so incredibly desirable. The fact that this example also is in a near mint condition most certainly helps as well. To many connoisseurs and collectors, it might be the ultimate Patek Philippe. Especially since ref.1518 also set the design standard for Patek’s desirable perpetual calendar chronographs for years to come. Not to mention that this was also the start of serie produced watches that featured multiple complications in one wrist watch. With the current record-breaking auction result, we can now safely say that its reputation as the ultimate Patek Philippe has been confirmed!