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Last Week's Auction Results Are In: Vintage Watches Pack A Punch

That watch on your wrist today may well be tomorrow’s grand windfall — especially if you own, or are buying, a watch that is a special edition, a specific genre or a certain brand name. We are in the height of the spring auction season that is affirming the ongoing love affair between collectors and certain pre-owned vintage timepieces. Here, we bring you a few of the highlights from each of the auctions.


At the Antiquorum auction of “Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces” held on May 10, an outstanding 6.5 million Swiss Francs worth of merchandise sold. Among the most intensely coveted items was the Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 Fourth Series, which had been retailed by Tiffany & Co. The two brands have shared a long history of collaboration spanning more than a century. This 18-karat yellow gold watch with perpetual calendar was the top lot (Lot 504) — selling for an exceptional $509,840.


Photo courtesy of Antiquorum\

The other hotly contested item was General Douglas MacArthur’s Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso – a watch belonging to the Five-Star General and bearing his insignia on the reverse dial. Lot 359 claimed more than four times its original estimate, selling for $94,615.


Photo courtesy of Antiquorum

The following day, on May 11, Christie's “Important Watches” auction totaled sales of nearly $16.5 million. The top lot in this auction was a platinum Patek Philippe double-dial Sky Moon Tourbillon wristwatch with 12 complications, Ref. 5002P. Originally manufactured in 2006, the watch sold for $1,151,836 (Lot 136).

Rolex enjoyed its day in the sun, too, on May 9 in Geneva at the first-ever Phillips, in Association with Bacs & Russo, auction. In fact, this newly established auction house held two days of auctions — one devoted to the Rolex Day Date and the other devoted to different brands. The Rolex Day Date auction offered 60 rare examples of the brand’s most prestigious watch. Every lot in this auction was sold — to the total tune of $6,634,800. The highest price was paid for "Big Kahuna," one of only two known 6612 references made in platinum. It broke world records by fetching $507,865.


The Rolex Big Kahuna, photo © Phillips

The following day concluded the Phillips two-day auction, which totaled $31.8 million in revenue. Top lots on this day included an extremely rare stainless steel Patek Philippe single-button doctor’s Chronograph, which sold for nearly $5 million – setting a new record price for a stainless steel wristwatch sold at auction.

If you are sensing a recurring pattern in the auction results of certain brands, it is important to take note that each of these auctions put hundreds of watches up for bid, and many were much more accessible brands that also sold well and fetched strong numbers.