That’s it! The Christie’s auction for Patek Philippe 175th Anniversary is done and well done. With a total amount of CHF 19,367,000 (around EUR 16,100,000 or USD 20,000,000) for 100 lots, we’re in front of quite a serious amount (an average of 190,000 CHF per lot). We introduced to you the highlights of the sale a few weeks ago and we were impressed by the selection. It is now time for us to see the results of the auction’s highlights and of a few others watches that might be interesting.
If you take a look at the catalog and the results, you’ll notice that most of the lots had been sold at prices higher than the estimates. Some of them, such as lots 83, 78 or 44 even doubled the estimate. It especially true for the ‘cheapest‘ lots. We also had some surprises, such as lot 39, certainly one of the most expansive 3-hand watches ever sold or lot 89 that reached and incredible price for a vintage Patek Philippe Nautilus. We’ll get back on these 2 later. First, we have to look at the watches we presented to you earlier, the most exclusives ones.
Lot 59, the first series Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 perpetual calendar Chronograph in pink gold
This watch, lot 59, was certainly the rarest, most coveted and most desirable watch of the auction: a first series Ref. 2499 perpetual calendar Chronograph in pink gold. Only 4 are known and that’s the only one known with english day and month. This unique edition, a real grail for Patek Philippe collectors, reached CHF 2,629,000. It is just upon the estimate that was CHF 1,600,000 – CHF 2,600,000. If we keep the debate focused on figures only, it didn’t break the ceiling for sure. However, relatively speaking, the price remains totally insane for just a wristwatch. It is a complicated and rare one for sure, but far away from a Patek Philippe Calibre 89. In a sense, it is absolutely impressive – considering that an average price for a 2499, non first series in yellow gold, is around CHF 300,000 – CHF 600,000. Another 2499 in pink gold had been sold by Christie’s in November 2013 for CHF 1,985,000 and the sister of the present watch, another ref. 2499 first series in pink gold, with french day and month, was auctioned, also by Christie’s, in May 2012 for CHF 2,547,000.
Lot 64, the blue enamel double-crown Word-Timer Patek Philippe Ref. 2523
This one was certainly my favorite. We’re talking about an extremely rare and gorgeous 1953 world-timer with blue enamel dial. This can be relatively blurry for you, but keep in mind that only 2 of these are known around the world. So it is rare and it is also one of the most beautiful watch ever created by Patek: just look at these lugs and the symmetrical double crown. The estimate was also very impressive (CHF 1,500,000 – CHF 2,500,000) and so is the result of the auction: CHF 2,225,000. Once again, the price remains into the estimate. And once again, it remains an impressive price-tag for a world-timer. Another blue enamel dial Ref. 2523 but in pink gold had been sold by Christie’s in 2010 for an incredible price of CHF 2,675,000. This was a unique watch, as the only pink gold edition of the 3 blue enamel dial 2523 ever manufactured (the two others are in yellow gold). The most expansive sold to date was a unique edition in yellow gold with a cloisonné enamel dial, depicting the north American continent, auctioned for CHF 2,771,000.
Lot 63, the Patek Philippe Ref. 2497 perpetual calendar in white gold
Lot 63 was also quite a rare watch: 3 of these are known. The 2497 is the non-chronograph edition of the superb 2499 listed previously. Most are known to be yellow gold or pink gold versions. However, platinum and white gold editions are another story. Only 2 platinum models are know. And that was also true, until today, for the white gold edition. Here is the third one. And this one comes on sale directly from the descendants of the original owner. It was estimated at CHF 1,000,000 – CHF 2,000,000 and reached CHF 2,045,000. It proves that rarity and pedigree will always be one of the main aspects for Patek collectors. For your culture, a yellow gold 2497 had been sold by Christie’s CHF 185,000 in May 2014. The ultimate grail was a platinum edition of the ref. 2497 with Breguet applied numerals, sold CHF 3,207,400 by Christie’s in 2008. That really shows you the difference between an already rare watch (a yellow gold ref. 2497) and an extremely rare watch. the result is simple: multiply the estimate by 10 (at least).
Lot 75, The ‘Tre-Scalini’ or ‘three-step’ Patek Philippe Ref. 3449 Perpetual Calendar
Lot 75 represents what Patek Philippe was (unfortunately not anymore): micro-series. The 3449, a perpetual calendar with moon-phases manufactured in 1961, was made in only 3 pieces and all are different. The first is fitted with a triple-stepped bezel and angular lugs. The second comes with a double-stepped bezel and angular lugs. The one presented here, the third and last of the collection, has a triple-stepped bezel and elongated straight lugs, at least 1 mm. longer than those of its predecessors. It was thus estimated at CHF 1,000,000 – CHF 2,000,000 and reached CHF 1,205,000. A surprise considering the rarity of this watch. The ref. 2497 just upon reached nearly twice more, for approximately the same specs and rarity. We would have expect more. But still, the price is huge. Another ‘Tre-Scalini’ ref. 3449 had been sold by Christie’s in 2011: the first explained here, the one with the triple-stepped bezel and short angular lugs, auctioned for CHF 1,427,000 – a price 15% higher than the one sold here.
Lot 45, the Jean-Claude Biver’s Split-Second Chronograph Ref. 1563 with two-tone pulsation dial
Lot 45 represents the same story than the ‘Tre-Scalini’: a very rare if not unique watch, with a pedigree that reached an impressive price but that didn’t break the ceiling. Only 3 examples are known around the world (one is at the Patek Museum and was the property of Duke Ellington, the other one is in a private collection). The third edition, property of Jean-Claude Biver (CEO of watches for LVMH Group), might be unique because of its dial, that differs from its peers. It shows a specific two-tone finish and a pulsometer scale instead of the usual tachometer scale. It was estimated at CHF 800,000 – CHF 1,600,000 and surprisingly reached CHF 965,000. The other one in a private collection had been sold in 2013 for CHF 1,445,000 (35% more than Biver’s). We were also expecting more.
Lot 35, the Boeing Mono-pusher Split-Second Chronograph Patek-Philippe Ref. 130
Same story: another watch sold in the lower part of the estimation. This Mono-pusher Split-Second Chronograph Patek-Philippe Ref. 130, lot 35, was the property of William E. Boeing and is also a unique watch, with Breguet numerals, Cartier signed dial and special minute hand with 3 red stripes. Added to the beauty of the watch, this pedigree and features could have created a stunning record. But the watch sold for only CHF 485,000 (for an estimate of CHF 400,000 – CHF 800,000). Once again, this is absolutely huge, but a higher price was expected by Monochrome. Another Patek Ref. 130 with a single co-axial pusher and sector dial (quite a rare bird too) had been sold for CHF 867,000, impressive for a watch with no special pedigree.
Now we come to the surprises: 3 watches that were not part of the highlights but that achieved incredibly high prices.
Lot 89, possibly the most expansive Patek Philippe Nautilus 3700 ever
Lot 89 is certainly one of the coolest watches made by Patek Philippe: a 1982 Nautilus ref. 3700/11 in stainless steel. Well, Gerald Genta’s design may be iconic, it doesn’t change the fact that a 3700 is not a very rare watch. The one here is not even a first series. It is usually auctioned for CHF 20,000 – CHF 30,000. Yes, but this one was sold for CHF 93,750, 3 times more than the average price and then its estimate (CHF 25,000 – CHF 35,000). Several explanations can help. First, it comes full set, with papers, extract of the Archives and the original cork box. Then, it comes as new: not a single mark or not a single scratch. It is just like acquired directly in a Patek Philippe boutique. That is impressive but the fact that it is a ‘new old stock’ watch is not enough to explain such a price. The reason may be simply the enthusiasm for Patek 175th anniversary.
Lot 39, a possibly unique 3 hand, black dial, Calatrava 530
This lot 39 is really an impressive one, both in terms of price and of the watch itself. It looks like a simple 1938 Calatrava, with no other complications than a small-second at 6. Don’t mess up with its reference. Usually ref. 530 refers to an oversized chronograph (the large edition of the ref. 130), introduced in 1938, AND also to a plain model without any complications, such as the one here. Usually, those watches are not that cheap, but remains in the CHF 40,000 – CHF 80,000 range. But because of its Breguet numerals on a glossy back dial, the one here reached CHF 389,000. Certainly one of the most expansive time only watch ever sold so far.
Lot 65, the Ben Clymer’s / Hodinkee’s Patek Philippe
Not only we wanted to pay a tribute to our colleague Ben Clymer (Executive Editor of Hodinkee and previous owner of this timepiece) but also point out another huge price. This Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 2508 is a rare bird (yes, Ben has good tastes) as it comes with luminous hands and indexes, as well a very rare blued sweep second hand. This watch in an extremely good condition was estimated at CHF 20,000 – CHF 40,000 and reached CHF 60,000. Quite impressive for this type of watch. So Mister Clymer, is it you or simply the market that created such a price?
What to say about this auction? First, we have to admit the impressive quality of the watches for sale: very rare timepieces, some even unique or close to unique, all in stunning condition and all with a clear pedigree. Then we also have to only look at the figures: more than CHF 19,000,000 for only 100 lots. The total amount is definitely huge, and so are the prices of the watches sold. Watches priced at more than 1 million (whatever the currency) are not common and it has to be pointed out.
However, if we take a closer look at the highlights, only a few of them reached incredible prices. The prices are impressive but it was already the case for previous auctions. Some even achieved quite low prices compared to the estimates (in particular for the ref. 1563 or the Ref. 130), especially when you consider the special occasion of this auction – Patek Philippe 175th anniversary – and the origins of the timepieces. On the overall, the results are impressive but not groundbreaking. Is it the first signs of a slower market? Maybe…