The third and the most exciting event that took place in New York this December was the Important Watches auction by Christie’s, especially when the top and the overall prices are concerned. Altogether, this auction totaled nearly 13 million of dollars (exactly $12,926,175). Its undisputed highlight was Rolex Reference 8171 “Padellone” in stainless steel, named like that since its case resembled a frying pan in the eyes of the collectors of the past. It is an exclusive version of one of just two Rolex models made with a perpetual calendar and it was sold for the record amount for the model in question – $1,145,000. Astonishingly, among 365 timekeepers auctioned at the event, there were 22 more watches which managed to gather a six figure sum apart from the highest paid Rolex perpetual calendar watch.
Among the six-figure priced timekeepers at the Christie’s auction that took place on December 17 were no less than 13 Patek Philippe wristwatches. The most of them (five) are with a perpetual calendar and a chronograph (different models, some of them historic, some more recent). Moreover, there were: one that combines a perpetual calendar with striking mechanism; one with just a perpetual calendar; two with split-seconds chronographs; two with decorative cloisonné enamel dials (one of those with a world time feature); a single with a celestial complication; and finally one with a chronograph and a pulsometer. The fact that Patek Philippes are in the very peak of sought-after timekeepers was demonstrated once again with a clock by the same manufacturer that was also in the company of these products which were paid more than $100,000. Additionally, six figure prices were achieved by: Richard Mille RM027-01, Chanel J12, Vacheron Constantin wristwatch duo – Lady Kalla Reference 17701/710G and skeletonized tourbillon with date and power reserve Reference 30066-67, Panerai 364, A.Lange & Sohne tourbillon with power reserve and hacking-seconds and three Rolex Daytona Cosmograph Paul Newmans. Finally, there were also two high-priced pocket watches – one by John Bennett and the other one by Vacheron Constantin.
“Frying Pan” Rolex with a Perpetual Calendar
As it unexpectedly turned out, the most money by far was paid for a dark horse – Rolex Reference 8171. The watch was sold for the record amount when this specific model is concerned – $1,145,000 which is about four times of its estimated value of $250,000-$350,000. This 38 mm wide stainless steel timepiece with a snap on case-back and has Caliber A.295 CPL self-winding movement with 18 jewels. It enables a perpetual calendar feature with moon phases which can be seen on its two-tone silvered face with diamond-encrusted Arabic numerals. This watch is very well preserved, despite originating from 1953. It is very significant and it was ultimately paid so much since it is just one of two Rolex’s models which included a perpetual calendar feature (the other being Ref. 6062). It is interesting that its nickname “Padellone” is Italian for “frying pan” and it was given to the model because its 38 mm size (which is nowadays smaller than a common watch) was considered huge at the time. This specific sized model is rarer than two other smaller-cased versions with the Reference 8171.
Perpetual Calendar Chronographs by Patek Philippe
As it has been noted, this auction likewise featured some of the same and similar models we have previously mentioned when talking about the sales by Sotheby’s and Antiquorum. That is why we shall not delve much on the specifics of these models, despite their extremely steep prices and quality. The most notable repetitive type of watch is Patek Philippe’s combination of a perpetual calendar and a chronograph which grabbed more than $100,000 on five separate occasions. At the top of the list of these five “relatives” is the second highest paid watch – Reference 2499 which got amazing $725,000. It was made in 1960 with a yellow gold housing and belongs to the cherished second series of Reference 2499. The next one with these complications is the sixth placed Reference 5970 from 2011, only known model of its kind to have a yellow gold casing and a dial in the color of gold. Its exclusivity is additionally raised by the fact that this model is the last perpetual calendar chronograph by the brand that has the Geneva seal on its movement which is recently replaced with the brand’s own certificate of quality. This watch grabbed $353,000. The next chrono perpetual calendar is the seventh highest paid Reference 1518 in yellow gold which was produced in 1946 (five years after the establishment of Reference 1518, the first series produced perpetual calendar chronograph) and which got $341,000. Finally, there was another Ref 5970 in white gold which got $118,750.
More Patek Philippes: A Minute Repeater, Split-Second Chronograph Duo & One with Enamel Dial
The story about the high-priced Patek Philippe watches continues with Reference 5074 – a self-winding minute repeater with a perpetual calendar. This pink gold watch with a snap on the case back from 2007 was bought for astonishing $461,000 (the fourth highest paid watch). This auction is the first occasion in which this timekeeper was offered to public (it was previously owned by a selected buyer). The 42 mm wide round timepiece works on Caliber R 27 Q movement with the Geneva seal of certification and it includes 39 jewels and has a distinguished silvered matte dial. There was just one more perpetual calendar by Patek Philippe – Reference 2497 which does not include additional complications, unlike the previous mentioned models. This watch from 1953 was sold for $161,000.
The other models by the same brand that stand out due to their quality and the price (even in such an exclusive company of 13 models over $100,000) were two split-second chronographs. The first of them is the fifth placed Reference 5950 with a 37 mm wide cushion-shaped stainless steel case which was sold for $413,000. This 2012 timepiece is made with an exceptionally thin Caliber CHR 27-525 PS that bears the Patek Philippe seal (whose criteria are even tougher than for the Geneva seal). Interestingly, this watch with a silver opaline face retails for even higher amount (about $71,000) than it was paid for, so it could be said that its buyer actually got a bargain. Other split-seconds chronograph by Patek Philippe at the Christie’s auction was Reference 5959. It was paid $293,000, which made it the eighth highest paid watch at the event. This rare 33 wide platinum piece with a white dial was made in 2005. It is especially significant since it is the brand’s first chronograph to be completely made in-house. One of the additional perks of the watch is that its 27-jeweled movement is ultra-thin.
Probably the prettiest piece at the entire auction was Patek Philippe Reference 2481 which has a mesmerizing cloisonné enamel dial depicting “Foirest Vierge” (Virgin Forest). This beautiful 2418S-reference dial is one of just eight of this type that exist, two of which are exhibited in the brand’s Geneva museum. It was made by famed enameller Marguerite Koch who was employed by the Stern Freres. As the inspiration for the piece served the work of painter Paul Gaugin who used thick outlines in the objects and things he depicted. The same manner (which is very costly when it comes to making enamel dial) is used to make this watch which originates from 1953. The men’s gold timekeeper with three central hands was discovered only recently.
Feather-Light Watch made for Rafa Nadal
Though there were most timekeepers by Patek Phillipe in the company of the highest sold watches (naturally excluding the Rolex that was paid more than a million), some of the products by other watchmaker grabbed hefty sums. Firstly, we have Richard Mille Rafael Nadal RM027-01 model made in 2012. We have previously written about this ultra-light model when it was unveiled at the SIHH 2013. The watch weighs only 19 grams, which makes it one of the lightest tourbillons ever to be produced. One of the contributors to that figure is its 48 mm wide case made of carbon composite. Furthermore, its movement with 19 jewels (made of titanium and Lital and with aluminum-lithium bridges) weighs only 3.83 which is pretty awesome.
Sparkly Ladies Timekeepers and a Pocket Watch by John Bennett
The next watch on the list (the eighth highest paid) is Chanel J 12 limited edition timekeeper sold for $293,000 which was more than two times over its estimated value. Even though it has an automatic mechanical movement, its biggest value lays in the multitude of precious stones which are paved all over its dial, case and bracelet. To be more exact, the number four watch in an immensely limited edition of only five pieces has 84 diamonds and 12 rubies on the dial, 46 rubies on the bezel, 74 on its case (which is by the way 38 mm wide) and lugs. Moreover, its white gold bracelet is covered with 100 diamonds and 360 rubies. All in all, the timekeeper from 2008 features the total diamond weight of 10 carats and the total of 30 carats of rubies.
The only pocket watch that finds its way on the top best priced watches at the Christie’s December auction is a vintage timekeeper made by the renowned English watchmaker and horological theorist John Bennett who was also well known for his marketing skills and ability to sell his products. This particular timekeeper with minute repeater and perpetual calendar complications (including moon phase display) was made for Frederick Thoms. It is set in a hunter-type 18 K yellow gold case with the diameter of 62 mm and has a stylish off-white enamel dial signed by Willis. The functioning of the watch is based on a modified 20 lignes wide three-quarter plate movement by Audemars Piguet. As it has been mentioned, the watch with a two-directional winding crown includes a striking mechanism (with both grande and petite sonnerie) and a perpetual calendar (with displays for day, date, month, leap year and phases of the moon). The antique watch was sold for $269,000 thus heavily surpassing the original estimate which was in the range of between $70,000 and $100,000.
There was just one more timekeeper that managed to attract more than $200,000 (or, to be accurate, it got $221,000). Once again, the product in question is made with the diamond-studded 18 K white gold case (20 mm wide) and bracelet. It is Vacheron Constantin Reference 17701/710G timekeeper from 1998, otherwise known as Lady Kalla model (which by the way stems from earlier Kallista model). The rectangle-shaped watch with a relatively simple two hand mechanical movement with 17 jewels is completely paved with 108 emerald-cut diamonds with the approximate weight of 32.44 carats. This timekeeper also had a surprisingly high final price, since its value was estimated to $100,000-$150,000.