Inside The Record Scattering Geneva Watch Auction Weekend

As we said before, the expectations were high for last weekends watch auctions in Geneva. Both Phillips and Christie’s had several lots that were potentially record-breaking. We predicted that some of their high estimates were a bit on the low-side, but even we had no idea that they would scatter them so brutely!

Prototype White gold Submariner
Several records were set in Geneva. A white gold Rolex Submariner reference 1680, with beautiful blue nipple dial, sold for CHF 631.500,- (including buyer’s premium) making it the most expensive Submariner ever sold at auction.

Rolex Oyster Cosmograph "The Legend"
While impressive, this was nothing compared to the Rolex Oyster Cosmograph “Paul Newman” which is better known under its additional nickname “The Legend”. This yellow gold chronograph was for a long time an enigma, as it is a “Paul Newman” with screw down pushers. This is the third to emerge at auction, and the collectors truly wanted to get there hands on it. After an intense bidding war, it was hammered down at CHF 3.722.000,-, over CHF 2 million of its highest estimate. The winning bidder was actually in the room to participate in the auction and left just before the gavel came down, but if it was confidence or the excitement that made him leave the room, we will probably never know. He does own now the most expensive vintage Rolex Daytona to date.

Rolex Bao Dai
The winner of “The Legend” would have also owned the most expensive Rolex sold at auction, if it wasn’t for the “Boa Dai” Rolex. This yellow gold, full calendar watch with diamonds indexes was previously the property of the last emperor of Vietnam. Although the bidding war lasted quite long, it immediately broke the previous record for the most expensive Rolex sold at auction, to eventually change hands for CHF 4.300.000,-.

Patek Philippe Haile Selassie
Patek Philippe was another brand which broke records. Emperors seemed to have favorited calendar watches, as Haile Selassie’s, Emperor of Ethiopia, ref. 2497 perpetual calendar sold for nearly three times the estimate with a hammer price of CHF. 2.911.500,- (buyer’s premium included).

In an interesting twist of events did Sotheby’s not sell the most complicated Patek Philippe ever. Caliber 89 was created to celebrate the brands 150th anniversary and features 33 complications. Patek Philippe only made four of these highly complicated pocket watches, and this one failed to reach the low estimate of $6.4 million. This is the second time that this watch came up for auction, as in 2016 Christie’s didn’t sell it at their New York auction.