This Patek Philippe is most expensive watch ever sold at online auction
At Christie’s “Top of the Time” online auction based out of the auction house’s Hong Kong branch, a Patek Philippe ‘Sky Moon Tourbillon’ sold for $5.8 million (HK $45.4 million) to an anonymous buyer.
The Patek Philippe timepiece set a new record for an online auction, using a new avenue for the pre-owned watch industry that’s gaining more and more traction.
The rare watch, part of Patek’s Grand Complications series, features 12 complications such as Cathedral minute repeating, tourbillon, perpetual calendar, retrograde date, moon phases, Leap Year indication, sidereal time, sky chart, and phases and orbit of the moon. The watch face features a hand-made blue cloisonné and champlevé enamel dial and is encased in an 18-karat white gold case that took craftsmen more than 100 hours to make. The watch was originally sold to a buyer in 2015 at the Patek Philippe Salon in Geneva.
For a watch market that has been wobbling as of late, the record-breaking sale of this Patek was welcome news.
"This is a super rare and complicated watch, but this sale demonstrates that there is real demand for expensive high-quality investment-grade watches," says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of pre-owned watch dealer Bob's Watches. "The 'Sky' is the limit to what serious collectors will pay for special these uber rare timepieces. This watch checks almost every box, but aside from that some may see high grade watches as a safe place to park money given all the recent banking turmoil."
Recently the second-hand watch market has seen values drop from all-time highs back in early 2022, coming back down to Earth following a pandemic and crypto-related boom. That being said, the pre-owned watch market is expected to keep growing, hitting 10% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) through 2026, according to BCG.
“There continues to be an extremely vibrant market for watches across the world, evidenced through the avid global bidding this sale witnessed, which further cements Hong Kong’s status as an international epicenter for watch collecting,” said Alexandre Bigler, Christie’s Asia Pacific VP and head of watches, in a statement.
Overall the Christie’s “Top of the Time” auction pulled in $8.4 million in sales, with participating bids coming from 48 countries with millennials making up 40% of the buyers at auction, Christie’s said. The online auction featured watches from Rolex, Audemars Piguet, A. Lange & Sohn, and Breguet.
“This sale lays a very strong foundation for our spring auctions in May at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where we look forward to presenting more exceptional timepieces for our esteemed clients and watch enthusiasts,” Bigler said.
Finally, next week the luxury watch industry is expected to get a boost with the big watch houses previewing their upcoming models at Geneva’s Watches and Wonders industry trade show. Industry king Rolex is already teasing some features of models it will have on display.
Excellence is a perpetual challenge. On 27 March 2023, Rolex is unveiling its latest creations.#Rolex #WatchesandWonders2023 pic.twitter.com/0kMS1grbQB
— ROLEX (@ROLEX) March 23, 2023
"It’s always an exciting time of year leading up to the new model launches by the top brands like Rolex, Patek, AP and more. It’s even more important for us in the pre-owned space as were anxious to see which models will be discontinued - prices almost always jump about 10% on these models," Paul Altieri says of the period immediately around the Watches and Wonders event.
Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.
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