Nine out of the top 10 lots in the Sotheby’s Important Watches sale in New York on Thursday were Patek Philippe watches made within the last 10 years, confirming that demand outweighs production of recent Patek models, particularly the Nautilus. The top lot was a Ref. 5033 platinum annual calendar minute repeater that sold for $300,000. The model was in production from 2002 to 2012 and fewer than 80 pieces were produced, all in platinum. Another Patek minute repeater, Ref. 5079 made in 2001, sold for $250,000. It was one of only 70 pieces ever made within a five-year period before being discontinued.
The Patek Philippe Nautilus is the hottest watch in the world right now, and there were 17 of them in this auction (plus two “pre-Nautilus” models), selling for a combined total of just under $2 million. Two of them were rare 40th-anniversary pieces, including the second highest lot in the auction—a Ref. 5976 white gold flyback chronograph with baguette diamond markers, selling for $287,500. It was made in 2016 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the model, which the dial discreetly proclaims with the embossment “1976-40-2016.” It was produced in a limited series of 1,300 pieces. The third highest priced lot was also a Patek Philippe 40th Anniversary Nautilus, this one a three-hand with date in platinum, with diamond hour markers and an embossed dial. It was one of a series of 700 and sold for $275,000. Another Nautilus in the top 10 was a rare pink gold Ref. 5723, with an unusual pink dial and bezel lined with baguette diamonds. Made in 2014, it sold for $200,000.
The fourth highest lot—and the only non-Patek Philippe in the top 10—was a rare Rolex special-edition Submariner made in 1974 for the British Military. It bears the iconic “T” below the arbor on the dial, signifying it was made for the British Ministry of Defense. It sold for $262,500, more than four times its estimate and a world record for a double reference military Submariner. The watch is in superb condition, considering it was made to be worn in combat.
The rest of the Patek Philippes in the top 10 included: an “Advanced Research” Aquanaut automatic dual time with date and day/night indicator, made in 2016, selling for $237,500; a Ref. 5970P platinum perpetual calendar chronograph for $200,000; a possibly unique yellow gold Ref. 3970/2 perpetual calendar chronograph for $187,500; and a Celestial complication Ref. 5102 for $175,000.
There was even a little something for Star Wars fans in the sale: an 18-karat pink gold Mellerio with a manual-wound mechanical movement owned by Carrie Fisher, known for her role as Princess Leia. Mellerio is a family-owned French brand that makes fine jewelry and uniquely shaped watches. The 18-karat pink gold watch, made around 1975, sold for $12,500.