Over the past few days, Geneva was home to some very serious bidding wars with the Phillips, Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions raking in over a hundred million dollars.
Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo’s Geneva Watch Auction XVII amassed more than double the pre-sale low estimate with a total amount of CHF 47 million (US$52.5 million). Believe it or not, 100% of the lots offered were sold, continuing the over two-year winning streak of the auction house; the average lot price surpassed CHF 232,000. The sale total — the highest of the season in Geneva — is Phillips’ third highest sale total ever and the third highest ever achieved in horology. Held at Geneva’s La Réserve Hotel, the event welcomed 600 collectors and 1,675 bidders competing online — a representation of horophiles from 69 countries.
Over 15 world records were created, including the one for the Rolex Ref. 6270, fondly called ‘The End Game’, which fetched an astonishing sum of CHF 3,690,000. It’s the highest price ever paid for any Rolex Ref. 6270. The incredibly rare yellow gold chronograph — one of the only eight known pieces — comes with a diamond-pavé dial, sapphire indexes, a baguette diamond-set bezel, a caseback sticker and a bracelet. The second and third highest lots involved both Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 perpetual calendar chronographs. While a ‘Second Series’ model in pink gold sold for an impressive CHF 3,206,000 (US$3,567,316), a yellow gold ‘First Series' model fetched a staggering amount of CHF 2,359,000 (US$2,624,859).
Another Rolex — Ref. 6541 Milgauss ‘The Pinnacle’ — was in the limelight as well. The stainless steel watch with a honeycomb dial sold for a record-setting CHF 2,238,000 (US$2,490,222), the highest price ever paid for any Rolex Milgauss. The Phillips watch auction also included an exceptional selection by independent makers, including F.P. Journe, Kari Voutilainen, De Bethune, Daniel Roth, MB&F, Roger Smith and Urban Jürgensen, among others. Leading the independent pack though was the prototype of the JC BIVER Tourbillon Minute Repeater Carillon, which fetched CHF 1.27 million (US$1.3 million), a record amount for the first watch of a new brand that is yet to begin production.
Meanwhile, at Geneva’s Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Christie’s netted just over $45 million from its watch sales. The sales at Sotheby’s Geneva auction (that included the Important Watches sale and the Centuries of Time: A Private Collection of decorative pocket watches) amounted to a total of just over US$13 million.