Not even a pandemic can slow down vintage Patek Philippe prices

June 29, 2020, 7:00 PM UTC
Vintage Watches Auction-Patek Philippe Gold
Courtesy of Phillips

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The market for vintage and rare Patek Philippe and Rolex wristwatches has been red-hot for the better part of a decade, and it seems a global pandemic and financial crisis has done little to extinguish the fire.

This past weekend at the Geneva Watch Auction XI put on by Phillips with Bacs & Russo, world records were set for a number of exceptional timepieces including three incredibly rare Patek Philippes from the collection of watch industry luminary Jean-Claude Biver.

The auction room held a small gathering of in-person bidders, but more than 2,000 bidders duked it out online—a number double that of Phillips’s May 2019 auction. All 210 lots were successfully sold for a total of $31.7 million, exceeding the pre-auction upper estimate of $23.2 million.

Here are five highlights from the weekend’s sales:

Courtesy of Phillips

Lot 38, a Patek Philippe reference 1518 from the collection of Jean-Claude Biver sold for a record $3.57 million (all prices include buyer’s premium). One of only nine known 1518 models in pink gold with a pink dial, and the only known example with blue hands.

Courtesy of Phillips

Lot 155, a Patek Philippe ref. 2499 second series. A perpetual calendar chronograph in yellow gold, also from Biver’s collection, sold for a record $2.74 million.

Lot 214, a Patek Philippe ref. 1579 in platinum with blue details, one of only three known examples. While this didn’t set a record, the $2.05 million selling price means it was no slouch either.

The mania for “Paul Newman” Rolex Daytonas has not died down evidently. This ref. 6241 in yellow gold with a black dial, known as a “John Player Special,” sold for $1.09 million.

The fervent bidding wasn’t all for vintage watches. Two pieces from independent watchmaker F.P. Journe set records for the brand at auction including this Tourbillon Souverain for $1.57 million.

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