The top lot in Christie’s Rare Watches auction held in Geneva today was a masterpiece made by Patek Philippe for the legendary American collector Henry Graves Jr. The yellow gold tonneau minute repeater was made for Graves in 1927 and delivered in 1938. It sold for $4,586,895, with an estimate of $3,000,000 to $5,000,000. The Graves repeater last sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 2012 for just under $3 million. An inscription on the caseback reads “Esse Quam Videri”—latin for “be seen,” perhaps justifying the purchase of such an expensive watch. The Graves minute repeater was previously owned by Graves’s daughter, then his grandson and then a private collector, who sold it today. Graves had another three complicated pocket watches on order from Patek Philippe at the time he commissioned the repeater, including the Graves Supercomplication, which for 56 years reigned as the most complicated watch the world had ever seen. Until last Thursday, it was also the most expensive watch in the world, having sold for $24 million in 2014. It was bested by a one-of-a-kind Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime that sold for $31 million last week at the Only Watch charity auction held in Geneva.
The sale totaled CHF 12,654,000 ($12,686,900), with the second highest-priced lot selling for $881,285 for a one-of-a-kind, platinum Patek Philippe Ref. 5016 with minute repeater, perpetual calendar, tourbillon and moon phases. Made in 2005, it is one of the most complicated and legendary wristwatches of Patek Philippe’s modern production. This one was a custom special-order with a black dial and Ferrari-red indications.
As always, there were several Rolex Daytona models in the auction, two of which approached the half-million-dollar mark. A 1969 yellow gold Paul Newman Daytona Ref. 6241 with a champagne colored dial and black subdials sold for $472,225. Another Paul Newman Daytona, Ref. 6262, in reverse colors with a black dial and champagne subdials, sold for $436,131. The Ref. 6262 18-karat gold watch has what is referred to as a cherry logo, which means the Daytona marque is in red. The model was produced in 1970 for only a year, and just 35 examples in gold are known to exist.
Another notable lot was a gold Patek Philippe Ref. 3974 minute repeater/perpetual calendar with moon phase, made in 1990. The watch, with automatic caliber 27 RQ, sold for $371,965.
This was an extremely buyer-friendly sale. The rest of the auction consisted of several lower-priced Rolexes and other outstanding models from the likes of Richard Mille, Omega, Breitling, Hublot, Ulysse Nardin, Audemars Piguet and Panerai, which made it a great sale for buyers looking for watches in good condition as investment pieces. Full results here.