The fall watch auctions in Geneva—a mecca for collectors looking for both legends and bargains—are just around the corner. Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo will hold sales between November 10 and 13 that total a combined estimate of more than $30 million.
So what are the crown jewels? A rare Patek Philippe Ref. 3974—a minute repeater and perpetual calendar—is estimated to sell for between $700,000 and $1 million at Phillips. Meanwhile, Sotheby’s has their hands on a platinum Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 (a watchmaking holy grail) retailed by Asprey of London and estimated to sell for $2 million to $4 million. Christie’s is weighing in with its own Patek Philippe Ref. 2499, this one in gold and not co-branded, with an estimate between approximately $600,000 and $1 million.
Of course, it wouldn’t be watch auction season without another Paul Newman Rolex Cosmograph Daytona up for grabs. Christie’s is offering a ref. 6263, estimated between $302,313 and $503,855, with a very rare Mk 1 Panda dial and Mk 1 pushers. The watch was purchased new by the owner in 1969 or 1970 and has been in the same family ever since.
Phillips Geneva Watch Auction:EIGHT will begin the watch auction season on November 10 and 11 at Hotel La Reserve, followed by Christie’s Rare Watches sale on November 12 at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, and ending with the Sotheby’s sale of Important Watches on November 13 at its saleroom in Geneva. Here are the top two lots from each auction house.
Patek Philippe Ref. 3974 from Phillips
A highlight of the Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo Geneva auction in November is the platinum Patek Philippe Ref. 3974 minute repeater and perpetual calendar (Estimate: $700,000-$1,000,000), which Phillips refers to as “probably the most important and most complicated Patek Philippe reference created in the past 30 years.” Patek Philippe stopped producing this model 18 years ago, and only made it for a period of 11 years (from 1989 to 2000). From this production, only eight examples in platinum are known to have been made. The watch contains Patek Philippe’s caliber 27RQ, comprised of 467 components housed in a platinum case by legendary casemaker Jean-Pierre Hagmann.
Rolex “Jean-Claude Killy” Ref. 6236 from Phillips
Another highlight of the Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo Geneva auction in November is a selection of the rare Rolex chronographs
pre-dating the launch of the Cosmograph Daytona. One of them is the Rolex “Jean-Claude Killy” Ref. 6236 Dato-Compax chronograph in stainless steel (Estimate: $307,000-$615,000). Made around 1960, Phillips says it is the best-preserved “Killy” Reference it has seen. Launched in 1947, the Ref. 4767 Dato-Compax was Rolex’s first triple calendar chronograph wristwatch fitted inside a water-resistant Oyster case. The model received the nickname “Jean-Claude Killy” after the three-time Olympic ski champion, who was known to wear this particular reference. He was also a brand ambassador for the watchmaker and currently serves on Rolex’s board of directors. This particular “Killy” Rolex formerly belonged to Gordon Bethune, the former CEO of Continental Airlines.
Patek Philippe Serpico y Laino Ref. 2499 from Christie’s
A highlight of the Christie’s Geneva auction in November is the Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 perpetual calendar chronograph with moon phases (Estimate: $1,500,000-$2,500,000). It was purchased by the late father of the present owners in the early 1960s in Caracas, Venezuela, at Patek Philippe’s celebrated representative in that country, whose signature, Serpico y Laino, Caracas in caps appears on the dial. The watch comes fresh to the market in superb original overall condition and an unusually large diameter case for the period, at 37.6mm. The case was made by Wenger, one of Geneva’s most accomplished case makers at the time, indicated by the key symbol numbered 1 to the inside of the snap on the caseback. To date, no other Ref. 2499 in any of the four series made is known to exist.
Paul Newman Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6263 from Christie’s
A highlight of the Christie’s Geneva auction in November is this 37.5 mm stainless steel Paul Newman Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6263, with a panda style Mk 1 dial (Estimate $302,313-$503,855). The watch, made around 1969, is consigned by the family of the original owner. It is an extremely rare and previously unrecorded stainless steel chronograph with a Paul Newman style dial—recognizable for the “square lollipop” ends on the subdial hash marks, the distinctive art deco font, the contrasting colored seconds scale along the periphery of the dial and the placement of the Daytona signature over the lower subdial.
Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 “Asprey” from Sotheby’s
A highlight of the Sotheby’s Geneva auction in November is the Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 “Asprey” (Estimate: $2,000,000-$4,000,000)—a perpetual calendar chronograph retailed by Asprey of London in 1956. Made in 1952, it was the most complicated Patek Philippe sold by the retailer, and is believed to be unique. The dial is double signed by the retailer and by Patek Philippe. It was last sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 2006 for CHF 2.2 million (approximately $2,207,460), the highest price paid to date for a Ref. 2499. The reference was manufactured between 1950 and 1985, but only 349 pieces were made – an average of nine per year. This watch is one of the first series, and thought to be the only one in that series with the Asprey signature.
Richard Mille RM 57-02 from Sotheby’s
A modern watch is one of the highlights of the Sotheby’s Geneva auction in November. The Richard Mille RM 57-02 Falcon (Estimate $800,000-$1,200,000), commissioned in 2017, is a one-of-a-kind piece. The watch is skeletonized, and dominated by a hand-chased, 18-karat white gold engraving of a falcon, which symbolizes strength and speed. It is set with round diamonds and black sapphires, including part of the back of a wing that can be seen through the caseback. The watch has a tourbillon escapement with a free sprung balance housed within a case set with baguette-cut black sapphires.