Sotheby’s June 2017 Important Watches sale in New York City took in $7.4 million.
That’s not a sum to be sneezing at for 310 lots sold, with a sell-through rate of 84.2 percent.
And while this auction definitively had its share of Rolex and Patek Philippe models – generally the auction world’s top two performers – I was pleased to see that the top ten list of performers at this auction included a Richard Mille and four Greubel Forsey models as well as a Patek Philippe Reference 5016 minute repeating perpetual calendar tourbillon with retrograde date and moon phases.
Yes, you read that correctly: four Greubel Forsey watches in the top ten performers of this auction.
The other four pieces among the bestsellers included three more Patek Philippes and an A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst.
The top performer: Patek Philippe Reference 5016
The Calatrava-cased Patek Philippe Reference 5016, a platinum minute repeating perpetual calendar tourbillon with retrograde date and moon phases manufactured in 2003, sold for $444,500. The Calatrava is celebrating its 85th anniversary in 2017, which I hypothesize boosts a watch’s desirability in Give Me Five! 5 Watches That Have Stood The Test Of time Starring Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, And Cartier. Though I will admit that this watch would need no “boosting” at auction.
Lot 374, powered by manually wound, Geneva Seal-stamped Patek Philippe Caliber R TO 27 PS QR with official C.O.S.C. chronometer certification, was accompanied by an extract from the Patek Philippe archives confirming the date of its sale. This watch, produced in a limited series from 1994 to 2010, was the most complicated Patek Philippe wristwatch until the advent of the Sky Moon Tourbillon (Reference 5002) in 2001.
A unique stainless steel version of the Patek Philippe Reference 5016 sold at the 2015 Only Watch auction for a record-breaking 7.3 million Swiss francs. For more on this see You Are There: Attending The Only Watch Auction 2015 With Patek Philippe and 4 Record-Setting Stainless Steel Patek Philippe Models Auctioned At Phillips. Is A Fifth Coming?
Number 2: Richard Mille
The Richard Mille RM008 from 2010 – one of the brand’s most complicated timepieces – exceeded its pre-sale high estimate when it fetched $396,500. Lot 336 in pink gold contains a split-seconds chronograph with tourbillon, power reserve, and torque indication.
It’s interesting to note that all five Richard Mille wristwatches offered in the Sotheby’s Important Watches auction were sold for a price that exceeded their high estimates.
Lot 68, a pink gold automatic RM005 from about 2004, came in way above its high estimate to hammer at $43,750; lot 199, a white gold automatic RM005, sold for 2.5 times its high estimate to also hammer at $43,750; lot 330, a two-tone pink gold and titanium RM011 Felipe Massa chronograph from 2012, came in well above its high estimate to sell for $100,000; and lot 332, a titanium and white gold RM011 Felipe Massa from 2012 also sold above its high estimate for $87,500.
Four by Greubel Forsey
There were four Greubel Forsey wristwatches in this auction, and all four landed in the top ten in terms of sale prices. Lot 334, a red gold Double Tourbillon 30° Edition Historique from 2010, sold well above its high estimate. Hammering at $200,000 it became the third highest-priced lot sold in the auction.
The Greubel Forsey Double Tourbillon 30° Edition Historique was the winner of the “complicated” category at the 2010 edition of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève; it is one of an edition of only 11 watches. This model was chased by several bidders on the telephone according to the auction house.
The other three Greubel Forseys constituted the following: lot 331, a white gold Tourbillon 24 Secondes Asymétrique from 2007 (sold for $125,000); lot 333, another white gold Tourbillon 24 Secondes Asymétrique selling for $125,000, but one from 2008 with a different-colored dial; and lot 335, a unique piece white gold Double Balancier 35° from 2013 that sold for $181,250.
Incredible A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst among top ten lots
Number 7 of the top ten was lot 210, an incredible platinum A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst, one of just 30 existing examples of this watch from 2012. It landed in the sweet spot of its pre-auction estimate, going for $137,500. This specimen is number 21/30 and only the second example to come to auction to my knowledge. Number 23/30 came up at Phillips’ Geneva Watch Auction: ONE in 2015, selling for 221,000 Swiss francs at the time. Both of the auction prices achieved have exceeded the original retail of €95,000 by quite a bit.
Joshua Munchow wrote a moving post about this watch that explains the special meaning of the word “Handwerkskunst” as well as the tremblage engraving style that the Saxon brand uses on its Handwerkskunst editions. For more, see The A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst: I Can Just Feel It!
Six more watches by A. Lange & Söhne performed well in this auction: lot 61, a yellow gold Lange 1 from 2000 that went for just about its high estimate ($14,750); lot 232, a pink gold Richard Lange from 2005 that sold for $13,750; lots 319 and 320, a pair of gold 1815 Up/Downs from 2010 that sold for $15,000 each; lot 321, another pink gold Richard Lange from 2005 that sold for $18,750; and lot 322, a dark-dial white gold Lange 1 from 2010 that sold for more than its high estimate at $21,250.
Two pairs of gorgeous Jaquet Droz models
Historic brand names also seemed to do well in this auction, including Swatch Group’s insider brand Jaquet Droz, which I think of as the “independent” of the powerful group.
Interestingly, two pairs of Jaquet Droz watches, which I assume came from the same collection, did very well.
Lots 4 and 5 were a pair of Jaquet Droz Grande Séconde Décentrée models from 2010, each of which sold for more than double their high estimates.
Lot 4’s pre-sale estimate was $3,000-$5,000; it sold for $10,625; lot 5’s pre-sale estimate was $2,000-$4,000, and it sold for $9,375.
Lots 66 and 67, which I again assume came from the same collection, comprised a pair of Jaquet Droz bi-retrograde perpetual calendars from 2005 that sold for $20,000 and $10,000 respectively, the Éclipse-like style above pre-sale estimate and the Astrale version at its low pre-sale estimate.
See more about this brand’s breathtaking Éclipse perpetual calendar at The Moon Of Your Heart: Jaquet Droz Perpetual Calendar Éclipse.
Quality sports watches by Ulysse Nardin and Jaeger-LeCoultre
The market for high-end sports watches also seems to be good at the moment. Aside from the multitude of Rolex models that sold in this auction, I’d like to point out lot 2, the stainless steel Ulysse Nardin Acqua Perpetual from 2010 that sold for for $7,500, which was just about double its high estimate of $4,000.
And on that note, lot 20, the pink gold and ceramic Ulysse Nardin Executive Dual Time – a watch still in the brand’s collection – also sold for just about double its high estimate at $7,500.
Lot 195, a stainless steel example from 2007 of the now-discontinued Jaeger-LeCoultre Squadra World Time, sold for above high estimate of $5,000 at $6,875. Find out more about the special square Reverso released in honor of 75 years of the Reverso in 85 Years Of The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso.
It’s always fun to see how the unusual pieces fare at auction – a lot of times they don’t sell at all, though lot 310, a Patek Philippe perpetual calendar split-seconds chronograph pocket watch from 1911 achieved $181,250, making it the fourth-highest grossing timepiece in this auction.
Also featured was a silver Hermès travel clock from 1925 with black and red enamel. Lot 108 didn’t quite reach its low estimate, though it did sell for $1,188 – and congrats to that buyer for a great eye and a lucky result.
Lot 156 was an unsigned pink gold erotic minute repeater pocket watch from about 1890. It, too, did not quite reach its low estimate, selling in the end for $2,750.
See more about erotic watches in Warning, Watchporn Inside: X-Rated Timepieces By Blancpain (Video).