A number of global records were set at the recent Phillips watch auctions in Geneva, notably beginning with the Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR on 12 and 13 November, which dropped jaws as Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo — the world’s leading watch auction house — set the world record for highest result ever achieved for any wristwatch at auction, thanks to the sale of the legendary Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 in stainless steel.
Selling for a cool CHF 11,002,000 (HK$84,555,633) in just under 13 minutes, the stainless steel 1518 made up almost a third of the total sales of 117 watches throughout the two days. This also included two other timepieces from the much venerated Patek Philippe 1518 ‘trilogy’ — a pink gold and a yellow gold which sold for a combined total of close to HK$16 million.
Why did the top lot grab such a hefty price tag? The incredibly rare Patek Philippe 1518, a perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phase, was made in 1943 and is only one of four examples known in the world. Just for comparison’s sake, HK$84.5 million in Hong Kong can get you 100-plus Birkin bags. Over 100,000 iPhone 7 Pluses (256GB too). And… just almost a four-bedroom penthouse at Casa Bella on Caine Road. Worth it for a watch?
In the following weeks, timepiece fanatics continued to be transfixed as Phillips brought the global watch sales to Hong Kong, where the record breaking streak ensued.
At the first-ever themed watch auction in Asia by Phillips, ‘Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History,’ on 28 November 2016, the Stainless Steel Rolex Ref. 8171 ‘Padellone’ sold for close to HK$8 million, which shattered the record for most expensive Rolex ever sold in auction in Asia. The next day at the Hong Kong Watch Auctions: THREE, Phillips rounded off the year’s watch sales by realising a total of HK$136 million. Combined with the previous night’s Rolex auction, the season’s sales achieved nearly HK$200 million.
That’s a lot of money spent on watches for a month, to say the least. Like some might say, money can’t buy you time, but for a certain few wealthy bid-winners, it likely bought them a whole lot of happiness…