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This Ultra-Rare 1-of-3 Patek Philippe World Timer Could Fetch Nearly $4 Million at Auction

Some seriously significant watches will be up for grabs during Phillips' Geneva Watch Auction XIII.

Patek Philippe Ref 2523 Phillips

Still on that long waitlist for a Rolex Daytona? Bummed about the discontinuation of the Patek Philippe Ref. 5711/1A-001 Nautilus and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak 15202ST? Take heart, another Phillips auction is on the horizon, with the usual boatload of rare Rolexes and Patek Philippes (including Daytonas and Nautiluses), along with rarities from Audemars Piguet, F.P. Journe, A. Lange & Söhne and more. The Geneva Auction XIII is set for May 8th and 9th. Bidders won’t be present in the room but the auction will be live-streamed online.

The star lot is a 1953 Patek Philippe Ref. 2523 world time, one of three ever made with a cloisonné enamel dial depicting the Eurasia landmass. One of the three is in the Patek Philippe museum in Geneva. The other is in a private collection. This is the third. “For me, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see a cloisonné two-crown world time,” says Paul Boutros, managing director of Phillips watch department in the U.S. “It’s truly a remarkable watch, with a polychrome dial in multiple vibrant colors.” He adds, “What sets the 2523 apart from the 2523/1, produced a little bit later, are the massive and dramatic lugs, each with a pronounced step that rises above the bezel.” The 36mm case is yellow gold. It is estimated to sell in excess of $3.7 million (CHF 3.5 million).

There are several (more affordable) Patek Philippe Ref. 5711s, a model recently discontinued by the brand. They include a platinum version that is one of only 50 pieces like it to be made in the precious metal, dating to 2016. The estimate is $213,000-427,000 (CHF 200,000-400,000).


Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 from 1964 (left) and 1985 (right)

Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 from 1964 (left) and 1985 (right)  Phillips

Of the many vintage Patek Philippes in the auction are four Ref. 2499 perpetual calendar chronographs, all consigned by a single collector, and all in excellent condition. They include a third series example made in 1964, estimated at $426,000-852,000 (CHF 400,000-800,000); a fourth series made in 1985, the last year of production for that series (its sapphire crystal identifies it as the fourth series) estimated at $320,000-639,000 (CHF 300,000-600,000); a highly coveted first series made in 1953, (first series 2499s differ from the rest for their square-shaped pushers vs. round-shaped pushers) estimated at $1,070,000-$2,130,000 (CHF 1-2 million); a second series in 18-karat pink gold one of only 8 second series in the alloy estimated at $1,590,000-3,180,000 (CHF 1.5-3 million). Across all series of 2499s, only 30-40 were made.

There are a few Rolex Paul Newman Daytonas, including one of the favorite styles, a Ref. 6241 made in 1968 with a black acrylic bezel, white subdials a red minute track, estimated at $128,000-235,000 (CHF 120,000-220,000). Another, a special Ref. 6265, has a dial that doesn’t conform to that reference. According to Boutros, the owner was a pilot who purchased the watch in 1978 from a French retailer. “It was produced in 1972, so it sat unsold in the retailer’s inventory for many years,” Boutros reckons. “We believe either Rolex sent the watch to the retailer in this condition – perhaps they had some parts they were just using up. Or perhaps the retailer changed the dial in order to help sell it – these were the worst watches in the Rolex portfolio at the time.”  It is estimated at $159,000-265,000 (CHF 150-250,000).

Rolex Paul Newman Daytona Ref. 6241 from 1968

Rolex Paul Newman Daytona Ref. 6241 from 1968  Phillips

Coveting an Audemars Piguet? There are several vintage and modern Royal Oaks in the sale, including an unusually hued two-tone in 18-karat pink-gold and platinum perpetual calendar (instead of the usual yellow gold and steel) that was skeletonized by hand. “This is as good as Swiss watchmaking gets,” says Boutros. It is number 14 of 25 and estimated at $63,900-128,000 (CHF 60,000-120,000).

Harry Winston Opus by F.P. Journe

Harry Winston Opus by F.P. Journe  Phillips

Niche collectors may appreciate the Opus offering. The series of watches produced by Harry Winston in the 1990s under the leadership of Maximilian Büsser (now of MB&F fame). The very first Opus, created with none other than F.P. Journe, is in this auction. It’s a tourbillon with a brilliant turquoise dial, a unique piece estimated at $160,000-$320,000 (CHF 150,000-300,000). Given the skyrocketing prices for F.P. Journe’s own models in the secondary market, it will be interesting to see how his take on a Harry Winston Opus fairs on the block. The watchmaker’s new releases are, reportedly, completely sold out not only through 2021, but also 2022, so if you are looking for something that bears his mark in an unconventional setting, this is a rare chance.

Also among the many watches made by independent brands is a bright red Richard Mille RM 022 Tourbillon Aerodyne, one of 10, estimated for $265,000-530,000 (CHF 250,000-500,000), and some mouth-watering pieces by A. Lange & Söhne, Omega, Blancpain, Roger Dubuis and Cartier.

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