Watch Auction Caps $91-Million Year; Highest Annual Timepiece Total Ever at Christie’s

This Patek Philippe (reference 1527) sold for a record price of $5,708,833 at auction at Christie’s Hong Kong to a private Swiss museum, making it the most expensive watch bought in 2010.

NEW YORK – With its final auction of the fall season on Dec. 14 in New York, Christie’s International wrapped up a record-breaking year for fine and rare watches that realized $91.2 million in total sales—the highest annual total ever achieved for watches at the global auction house.

During what has emerged as a remarkable year for investment in fine timepieces, every watch sale hosted at Christie’s salerooms in Dubai, Hong Kong, Geneva, and in New York achieved sell-through rates above 90 percent by value. The top watch of the year was a unique Patek Philippe (Reference 1527) manufactured in 1943 that sold for a record $5.7 million at Christie’s Geneva, the buyer being a private Swiss museum.

“Our sale in New York this week marked the culmination of a truly stellar year for watches at auction,” said Aurel Bacs, international head of watches at Christie’s. “We have welcomed in a wealth of new collectors to this field in the past year, and witnessed an exponential growth in buyer participation from Asian countries, led primarily by mainland China and Hong Kong. At the same time, established collectors from the private, trade, and institutional sectors in Europe and the U.S. continue to add great depth and strength to this category, giving us a solid foundation for the year ahead. Our broad global reach and market-leading success has already yielded a number of exciting new consignments, and we look forward to our first round of sales in April 2011.”

Throughout 2010, Christie’s proved to be the auction partner of choice for the world’s most prominent watch collectors, representing virtually all of the top-value collections that came to market. Among the leading collections of the year were The Millennium Collection in Hong Kong, A Connoisseur’s Vision, Parts II and III in Geneva, and most recently, the collection of award-winning actor Anthony LaPaglia in New York, all of which exceeded their pre-sale estimate. Together with Part I, offered in the fall of 2009, A Connoisseur’s Vision achieved of grand total of some $19 million and became the most valuable private collection of wristwatches ever offered at auction.

At the Dec. 15 sale of Important Watches in New York, 321 clients from 19 countries registered to bid online—the highest ever for this category at Christie’s. Nearly 40 percent of the sale’s items were sold to or directly underbid by a Christie’s online client.

Christie’s hosts eight major auctions of Important Watches each year in Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong and New York. Top watches by Christie’s saleroom for 2010 are as follows:

Christie’s Geneva

Patek Philippe Reference 1527. An 18K-gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch, manufactured in 1943: $5,708,833, Swiss Private Museum
Patek Philippe Reference 2523. An 18K-pink gold wristwatch with blue enamel dial, retailed by Gobbi, Milan, manufactured in 1953 (world auction record for this reference): $2,704,425, Asian Collector
Patek Philippe Reference 2499. An 18K-pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases, manufactured in 1957: $1,216,233, Anonymous buyer

Christie’s Hong Kong

Patek Philippe Reference 5002P – The Sky Moon Tourbillon. A platinum, manually-wound double-dialed wristwatch with 12 complications: $1,111,078, Private Asian buyer
Patek Philippe, Ref. 3974. Platinum automatic perpetual calendar minute repeating wristwatch with moon-phase display, circa 1994: $712,998, Private Asian buyer
Patek Philippe, Ref. 5029. Platinum automatic minute repeating wristwatch, limited edition
• Manufactured in 1997: $620,334, Private Asian buyer

Christie’s New York

Patek Philippe Reference 5016. An extremely rare platinum perpetual calendar minute-repeating tourbillion wristwatch with retrograde date, moon phases and black dial, manufactured circa 2008: $602,500, Private Asian buyer
Piaget Reference GOA19599. 18k white gold and diamond wristwatch with bracelet, manufactured in 1999: $602,500, Private Asian buyer
Patek Philippe Reference 5016. An 18K gold perpetual calendar minute-repeating tourbillon wristwatch with retrograde date and moon phases, manufactured in 1993: $434,500, Private U.S. buyer


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