Patek Philippe’s coveted Nautilus watch can set you back as much as $200,000. Its original design just sold for well over three times that amount.
On Tuesday, Sotheby’s auctioned off a hand-painted design of the watch made by Gérald Genta, the beloved Swiss industrial designer responsible for some of the world’s most sought-after timepieces, for $727,000. Ten bidders from across the world battled over the drawing, a lot in the auction house’s “Gérald Genta: Icon of Time” sale in Hong Kong. The eventual winner was an Asia-based private collector. In total, this sale offered 34 lots comprised of 100 prototype paintings, which include not only the famed Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and Nautilus watches (including alternative designs) but also other well-known Genta timepieces and private commissions. (Genta’s original painting of the Royal Oak hammered for $610,586.) Each painting is accompanied by a unique NFT.
If you’re a watch lover, you’ve no doubt heard of Genta, famed for creating the world’s first “luxury sports watches” with integrated bracelets. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of these watches, or of the man himself; owning one of his original hand-painted designs is the equivalent of owning a furniture sketch by Charles Eames, or an architectural drawing by Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Royal Oak famously saved Audemars Piguet from the onset of the Quartz Crisis, which decimated Swiss watchmaking with the advent of the inexpensive, battery-powered movement. The Nautilus similarly buoyed Patek Philippe’s business, becoming so successful that the brand’s current president Thierry Stern discontinued the steel, time-and-date version of the watch within the firm’s catalog to prevent it from becoming synonymous with “Patek” in the minds of watch collectors the world over.
The Genta auctions will continue on May 10 in Geneva as part of the Important Watches sale, during which the designer’s personal Royal Oak will be offered together with four of his oil paintings. The sales will conclude in New York between June 8 to 22, when Genta’s designs for his unique Disney-inspired watches will come under the hammer.