An exceptionally rare Patek Philippe world timer set two new world records over the weekend after realizing nearly $8 million at a nail-biting auction.
Billed as the “end game” for collectors, the timepiece eclipsed its high estimate of $4 million by almost double to sell for an astronomical $7.8 million at Phillips’ Geneva watch sale on Saturday, May 8. According to Phillips, this is the most ever paid for a yellow gold wristwatch at auction. It’s also a record high for this particular model.
The auction house said the coveted wrist candy sparked a long and ferocious bidding war between nine international collectors before it finally was snapped up by an anonymous phone bidder.
The timepiece, known to aficionados as “The Silk Road,” was the first of just 11 Ref. 2523 models to be made and one of only three to feature a depiction of the Eurasian landmass. It sports an immaculate cloisonné enamel dial and two crowns: One winds the watch, while the other controls the city ring, a feature that allows the wearer to calculate the current time in the 40 cities listed around the watch’s circumference. It’s also powered by the Swiss watchmaker’s “time only” 12-ligne movement—the cal. 12-400—personally modified by the inventor of the world time system Louis Cottier.
It’s been nearly two decades since a Ref. 2523 featuring a map of Europe and Asia appeared on the market. As a further testament to the model’s importance, one of its counterparts actually resides in the Patek Philippe museum while the other is housed in a private collection. This explains the sky-high hammer price. This particular timepiece, which laid dormant for several years, now takes the title of the most expensive Patek Philippe Worldtime two-crown wristwatch with a cloisonné enamel dial to be sold at auction.
“This result demonstrates the appetite across the international market for uber-rare museum-quality watches and Phillips’ ability to bring such horological grails to the market,” Aurel Bacs, Phillips’s senior consultant, and Alexandre Ghotbi, head of Europe and the Middle East, jointly said in a statement.
It wasn’t just vintage Patek Phillippe timepieces achieving impressive sums at the $42 million weekend auction, either. A decidedly modern platinum Nautilus, Ref. 5711P, sold for just over half a mil (approx. $630,475). Proof that new or old, Pateks will always pull in the big bucks.