Historical Auction in the Watch World

The most Superlative Auction in the Watch World

by Olivier Müller

Even if you’re not involved or interested in the auction market, you still have to keep an eye on it, for one simple reason : this is the place where vintage watches get part of their price set. Of course, there are always some trends to let buyers know that certain models are and will ever stay expensive – models from a precise collection, of a precise year. However, what happened this week at Christie’s was kind of unusual. The selling prices of many Rolex, mainly Daytona, was so high that it went over expectations and defined a new grid of prices.

Christie’s Lesson One – 13 millions USD for a Rolex auction

Rolex Daytona “Lesson One” – a single-themed evening auction featuring 50 examples of the world’s most celebrated chronograph wristwatch, totalled $13,248,167, selling 100% by lot and by value, at Christie’s Geneva.

Created by Aurel Bacs to mark the 50th anniversary of Rolex most iconic model, this unique sale presented only the best Daytona wristwatches ever produced. The top lot of the evening was an important stainless steel chronograph wristwatch, ref. 6263/6239, Paul Newman model, manufactured in 1969, which sold for $1,088,889 ! It took one full year to Christie’s to gather all the pieces that were on sale this day.

Rolex Daytona Paul Newman (ref: 6263/6239) from 1969

Rolex Ref. 6263/6239 from 1969

This sale was not a common one for Aurel Bacs neither. The legendary International Head of Christie’s Watch Department will take a new turn in his career from now on, leaving Christie’s after years of a wise reign. He embodied for a long time the success that the auction house reached these past years. Hats off to Mr Bacs !

Christie’s Important Watches – Almost 44 millions USD in two days

Christie's Important Watches Auctions - 11 November 2013

Christie’s Important Watches Auctions – 11 November 2013

However, this Lesson One sale was just a detail of a bigger picture. It took place during two Golden Days, last week, much anticipated by the whole world of serious collectors. And, again, the result went over expectations.

On 10 & 11 November, Christie’s Geneva three-session auction of important watches realised an unprecedented combined total of $ 43,985,467, the highest result for a series of watch sales ever held ! Almost 44 millions USD for one auction… ! During these two days, Christie’s dispersed over 370 fine watches in an historical ten-hour auction marathon, which set a new record total for any series of watch sales.

Without any surprise, again, the top sale was a Patek Philippe. The top lot of the sale was an extremely rare 1957 Patek Philippe ref. 2499 second series in pink gold, which sold for $ 2,160,474.

Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 from 1957

Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 from 1957

In this auction, Patek Philippe and Rolex were the stars, confirming that rare timepieces have to be considered as true works-of-art. Repeatedly interrupted by the applauding audience, the last exciting session of the week was crowned by a standing ovation – both for the lots…and for Mr Bacs, who closed here at Christie’s an important chapter of the auction history.

More resources about Chritie’s Auctions on the Official Chritie’s Website.

    Author Bio

    Articles by Olivier Müller


    Olivier Müller is a professional journalist specialising in horology. He divides his time between Geneva and Paris, covering horology-related topics for a dozen or so magazines and specialist websites in Europe. He is also a regular speaker at various events. In 2008, Olivier Müller set up Delos Communications to manage the writing side of his business, spanning five European countries. Delos Communications also provides consultancy services for horological communication, helping brands as they define and implement their strategy in terms of positioning, messages and audience. In addition to the world’s two largest watchmaking groups, Delos Communications’ clients include a broad range of emerging independent brands, as well as public-sector bodies keen to promote their local watchmaking heritage. Five people work for the agency, including a journalist, a photographer, a community manager and a translator, all with expertise in the world of watchmaking.