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Vintage Icons Win the Day at Sotheby's Geneva Watch Sale

Two 1950s Showstoppers by Patek Philippe take Centre Stage
- A Rare Reference 2497 sells for a record-breaking CHF/$ 980,000 -

Rolex Daytonas from the 1970s Star
- A “Gold 6239” sets a Landmark Price at CHF/$ 450,000 -

Totals CHF/$ 9 million
Geneva, 12 May 2019 – Vintage icons have won the day at Sotheby’s Geneva, with two 1950s showstoppers by Patek Philippe taking centre stage and Rolex Daytonas from the 1970s confirming their star status. The sale was led by a superb example of the highly sought-after Patek Philippe reference 2497, featuring a rare case made by Emile Vichet which realised CHF 980,000 / $979,775, a record for this reference in pink gold.

1,100 watch aficionados from 70 countries around the world participated in today’s “Important Watches” auction which brought a total of CHF 9,089,126 ($8,952,153) (est. CHF 6.7 - 11m / $6.6 - 10.9m), with 81% of the lots sold and almost half of them achieving prices above their high estimate. 70% of the bids were placed online and over half of the bids (53%) came from clients new to Sotheby’s.

Speaking after the sale, Sam Hines, Global Head of Sotheby’s Watches, commented: “There are golden eras and golden models for vintage watches and today’s sale offered plenty of scope for collectors, from two of Patek Philippe’s iconic references from the 1950s (2497 and 1518) to the first generation of Rolex Daytonas. As we celebrate today’s results, we also look forward to an exciting series of sales in the months ahead, shining light on other vibrant areas of the market. This summer we will reach for the stars, with the first chapter of ‘Masterworks of Time’ in London, led by George Daniels’ legendary ‘Space Traveller I’ and our Omega Speedmaster sale in New York, commemorating the first Moon Landing, in addition to our June Important Watches sale.” 

Patek Prevails

Patek Philippe prevailed today at Sotheby’s Geneva, with a group of timepieces by the prestigious Geneva manufacture soaring to CHF/$ 3.4 million (est. CHF 2.3-4m/$2.3-4m). Covering over 130 years of history of Patek Philippe, with pieces from the late 19th century to today, the selection was spearheaded by two Patek Philippes from the 1950s.

The top lot of the sale was an extremely rare Patek Philippe reference 2497 in pink gold – thought to be one of just six examples known. In exceptional condition, the watch was made in 1953 and features a remarkable case made by Emile Vichet, distinguished by its flat case back and prominent claw-shaped lugs. Following a battle between eight bidders, the watch sold to applause in the room for CHF 980,000 / $979,775, a record for this reference in pink gold (Lot 184, estimate CHF 500,000 – 1,000,000 / $ 500,000 – 1,000,000).

A stunning 1950 example of Patek Philippe’s reference 1518 in yellow gold – one of the most important chronograph wristwatches ever produced – soared to CHF 500,000 / $499,885 (Lot 88, estimate CHF 300,000 – 500,000 / $300,000 – 500,000).

Rolex Daytonas Fly

The Rolex Daytona’s star is still very much in the ascendancy. Four of the top prices in today’s sale were achieved by models from the 1970s and 1980s, including:

A Rolex Daytona reference 6239 with a black dial which set a landmark price at CHF 450,000 / $449,897 (Lot 21, estimate CHF 100,000 – 150,000 / $100,000 – 150,000). Made around 1970, the watch in incredible almost untouched condition was fitted with an enormously rare gold brick bracelet.

Widely recognised to be one of the most desirable wristwatches in the world, the reference 6263 Daytona ranks among Rolex’s thoroughbreds. Today, a model in yellow gold with champagne registers dating from around 1985 sold for an above-estimate CHF 218,750 / $218,700 (Lot 139, estimate CHF 100,000 – 200,000 / $100,000 – 200,000).

The morning session was lit up by a Paul Newman ‘Panda’ Daytona, reference 6262 from around 1970 in fantastic original condition. The watch doubled its pre-sale estimate, selling for CHF 212,500 / $212,451 (Lot 32, estimate CHF 80,000 – 120,000 / $80,000 – 120,000).

Independent Watchmakers Stand Out

Among the independent watchmakers in the sale today, Richard Mille was represented by an RM008 platinum tourbillon split-seconds chronograph, one of the most complicated wristwatches he has ever made. This example reached CHF 375,000 / $369,349 (Lot 125, estimate CHF 300,000 – 500,000 / $300,000 – 500,000). 

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