In the last three days Christie’s, Phillips and Sotheby's offered important watches in three auctions held in Geneva.
After nearly a decade of research and craftsmanship, the Calibre 89 became the most complicated watch ever created when Patek Philippe unveiled it in 1989 to mark their 150th anniversary. One of the most important watches ever to be offered at auction, it remains the brand’s mechanical ambassador.
More pics and video of this exceptional timepiece in our March 17 article announcing the sale.
Among several others, a very interesting lot at Sotheby's auction was the number 135, an IWC Grande Complication featuring minute repeater, chronograph and perpetual calendar with moon-phases and year indication . It was sold for Swiss Francs 81,250. Produced in year 2000, the watch is powered by the automatic lever movement Calibre 79091. The 42 mm platinum case with a minute repeating slide to the case band frames a white enamel dial with engine-turned subsidiary dials.
"The Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE", a double-evening sale which took place the 13th and the 14th of May at Hôtel La Réserve, was Phillips’ first watch sale of 2017.
The sale was led by the iconic Rolex Reference 6062 "Bao Dai", widely considered by the collecting community as one of the most valuable and desirable Rolexes ever made. Following an eight minute bidding war, between ten bidders in the room and three on the telephone, the "Bao Dai" sold for Swiss Francs 5,066,000 to a phone bidder. This is the new world record for the highest price ever achieved by any Rolex wristwatch at auction.
This Rolex triple calendar with moonphase in yellow gold is one of only three black dial models known to exist with diamond markers. Of the three, the Bao Dai, is the only example to feature diamond markers at the even hours, making this piece truly unique. This is further enhanced by imperial provenance, having belonged to Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam. According to family tradition, Bao Dai himself purchased the watch in Geneva in 1954, when he attended the historic Geneva Conference seeking peace in Indochina following the Korean War.
This timepiece is not only exclusive due to its imperial provenance, but it is also the most complicated and iconic Oyster-cased model created by the Geneva-based brand, featuring day, date, month and moonphase indications.
Another top lot was the number 183, an 18K gold Patek Philippe World Time reference 2523/1, the only known example retailed by Tiffany & Co. With a starting estimate of Swiss Francs 900,000-1,800,000, the watch was sold for Swiss Francs 1,450,000.
Launched in 1953, the reference 2523 featured a new two-crown system, one for winding the watch and the other at 9 o’clock controlling the city disc. Two versions were available, reference 2523 with larger lugs sitting above the bezel and reference 2523/1 with a slightly larger diameter of 36 mm and thinner lugs no longer sitting above the bezel.
When introduced to the market this new double crown world time was not a commercial success resulting in very few pieces manufactured. According to research, nine reference 2523/1 are known all case metal and dial combinations. However, the present lot is the only one known with the prestigious Tiffany & Co. signature.
Patek Philippe stopped the production of world time watches in the late 1960s with the passing away of Louis Cottier, the watchmaker who designed this complication. A wordtime wristwatch came back into the Patek Philippe catalogue only in 2000 with the reference 5110.
Finally, a Rolex Daytona "Paul Newman" Ref. 6263 with a caseback stamped 6239 and a rare "lemon" grené dial (lot 237) established a new world record as the most expensive Daytona ever sold at auction achieving the impressive amount of Swiss Francs 3,722,000.
Produced in 1969, the present watch marks the third known and correct example of yellow gold Daytonas with screw down pushers to ever appear at an auction.
Christie’s "Rare Watches and a Rolex Afternoon" took place today at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in two sessions, the first in the morning and the second, entirely dedicated to Rolex timepieces, in the afternoon.
The top lot was the number 166, a previously unknown 18K gold Patek Philippe perpetual calendar wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, moon phases, black luminous military-style dial, luminous Alpha hands, formerly the property of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.
Extract from the Archives confirm production of the present watch in 1954 with a monogram engraved to the case back according to a model given by the client and its subsequent sale on 12 October 1954. Starting from an estimate of Swiss Francs 500,000 - 1,000,000, this lot achieved a sale price of Swiss Francs 2,911,500.
A Rolex Cosmograph Daytona "Paul Newman" ref. 6264 (lot 218) dating back to 1970 achieved a sale price of Swiss Francs 583,500. The 37 mm stainless steel case frames a very rare tropical lemon dial with applied square gold numerals with luminous accents, luminous hands, outer gilt fifths of a second divisions on formerly black - now turned chocolate brown - chapter ring, three engine-turned formerly black – now turned chocolate brown - subsidiary dials.
For the full lists of the lots that were sold at these auctions, just follow the links below:
Sotheby’s "Important Watches", May 13
Phillips "The Geneva Watch Auction: FIVE", May 13 and 14
Christie’s "Rare Watches and a Rolex Afternoon", May 15