The $14 Million-Dollar Online Watch Sale

The $14 Million-Dollar Online Watch Sale

By Richard Fox

Underlining the current strength of the online watch auction market, Christie’s ‘Watches Online: The Dubai Edit’ sale (24 March – 8 April 2021) attained some impressive sales figures and sold a group of stunning watches. Christie’s previous record for an online watch sale was set in December 2020 in New York at US $7.7 Million. The US $14,120,250 figure for the Dubai sale doubled the New York figure. Christie’s also state that the sale achieved the highest total yet for any online watch sale worldwide to date.  

The standout lot, (appropriately numbered, Lot 1.) was a rare Patek Philippe, Ref. 5002P-001, Sky Moon Tourbillon wristwatch from 2004. It sold for US $1,590,000, including buyer’s premium and has become the most expensive wristwatch sold online by Christie’s. 

The Patek Philippe, Sky Moon Tourbillon was listed as an ‘extremely rare’ platinum double dial wristwatch featuring 12 complications and 686 parts. The complications include a minute repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar, leap year cycle, retrograde date, sky chart, moon-phase, orbit of the moon, and sidereal time, (see main photo image above). Made in 2004 the watch has a diameter of 43 mm. The estimate was US $1,000,000 – US $1,800,000.    

Online auction catalogue comments on the watch note that the Ref. 5002 was made between 2001 and 2012 and reserved for Patek Philippe’s most important clients. Accordingly, the watch was inspired by Patek Philippe’s own ‘Star Caliber 2000’, a double-sided pocket watch built to commemorate the new millennium. Speaking about the sale of the Sky Moon Tourbillon watch, Remy Julia, Head of Christie’s Dubai Watches Department noted: 

“…this sale was the first Christie’s online auction to offer a timepiece with an estimate of over $1,000,000 and we are delighted that the Patek Philippe reference 5002 sold for $1,590,000, setting a new record for a watch sold online at Christie’s and for any watch sold at auction in the Middle East…”

Remy Julia, Head of Christie’s Dubai Watches Department (© Photo image courtesy and copyright of Christie’s) 

The Top 10 By Sale Value

The auction included a total of 192 lots and achieved an 89% sale rate by lot. If we take a quick look at the sale the top three lots were all Patek Philippe wristwatches. This illustrates again the continued current strength of the market for high value rare Patek Philippe watches both vintage and modern. However, the third and fourth highest spots in the sale were not occupied by Patek Philippe or Rolex watches, but instead went to a pair of Gérald Genta wristwatches. Most famously Gérald Genta is known for his design of the Patek Philippe, Nautilus and the Audemars Piguet, Royal Oak. Rolex of course did get a look in amongst the top 10, along with a stunning, Harry Winston & F.P. JOURNE, ‘Opus One’, Ref. 200/MRPFJ 38P, a unique platinum dual time chronometer wristwatch from circa 2002. This watch sold for US $350,000, including buyer’s premium. 

Lot NumberMake, Model, ReferenceSold for US $*
1Patek Philippe, Ref. 5002P-001, Sky Moon Tourbillon$ 1,590,000
6Patek Philippe, Ref. 5104P, Perpetual Calendar, Minute Repeater$    750,000
96Patek Philippe, Ref. 5074P, Perpetual Calendar, Minute Repeater$    525,000
128Gérald Genta, No. 1, Ref. G0025.7, Platinum Grand Sonnerie$    500,000
126Gérald Genta, No. 1 Ref. G0026.6, Pink Gold Grand Sonnerie$    375,000
136Rolex, “Snow Compax”, Ref. 6036, Triple Calendar Chronograph$    350,000
140Rolex, Ref. 3525, Gold Oyster Chronograph, Antimagnetique$    350,000
46Harry Winston & F.P. JOURNE, Ref. 200/MRPFJ 38P, Opus One$    350,000
93Patek Philippe, Ref. 5071G, Gold and Diamond-set Chronograph$    350,000
101Patek Philippe, Ref. 5004R, Perpetual Calendar and Split Seconds$    350,000

*Stated prices include buyer’s premium

Further analysis of the sale shows that for the number of watches sold for US $100,000, (including buyer’s premium), or above by make – the top 3 spots went to:  

Patek Philippe15 watches 
Rolex 9 watches 
F.P. JOURNE4 watches 

Gérald Genta Wristwatches

Gérald Genta, No. 1, Ref. G0025.7, a platinum Grande et Petite Sonnerie wristwatch, from 1994.  

When you see an auction catalogue note saying, ‘Please note the movement is not in working condition’, you might think twice about buying or look carefully at the estimate. You might also ask how expensive will it be to repair? This was the auction catalogue note for Lot 128 a special Gérald Genta wristwatch, No. 1, Ref. G0025.7. The watch features a tourbillon escapement, alarm, calendar, minute repeater, power reserve indicator and dual time. The estimate was set at US $30,000 – US $ 60,000. The watch ended up selling for US $500,000 including buyer’s premium. 

Obviously, the rarity of this watch, its movement and complications, the name Gérald Genta, plus materials used such as platinum meant despite the catalogue note collectors were interested. 

Christie’s, added in their catalogue that when the watch was introduced in 1994 it was one of the most complicated wristwatches in the world with over 800 parts used in the movement. It is thought that around 24 of the watches were made with most being ‘one-offs’ with respect to the case material and dial design. Genta created these pieces in 1994 to mark the 25th anniversary of his watch brand. In all eight Gérald Genta watches sold in the Christie’s auction. 

Gérald Genta, No. 1, Ref. G0025.7, platinum Grande et Petite Sonnerie, wristwatch (© Photo image courtesy and copyright of Christie’s)

Additional Highlights

Amongst a collection of some superb watches two additional highlights included: 

Lot 6: Patek Philippe, Ref. 5104P, platinum and gold minute repeater, perpetual calendar. From 2009. Diameter: 43 mm. The watch sold for US $750,000 including buyer’s premium. The estimate was US $400,000 – US $600,000.

Featuring a semi-skeletonised dial and outer blue chapter ring for date display. Functions include a minute repeater, perpetual calendar, leap-year indication, retrograde date, and moon-phase. Sold with a leather-bound Patek Philippe Certificate of Origin. 

Christie’s further note that the model was launched at Baselworld 2006. Discontinued in 2013 it is thought that only a 100 were made.

Patek Philippe, Ref. 5104P, platinum and gold minute repeater and perpetual calendar wristwatch (© Photo image courtesy and copyright of Christie’s)

Lot 136: Rolex, “Snow Compax”, Ref. 6036, steel triple calendar chronograph. From circa 1952. Diameter: 36 mm. The watch sold for US $350,000 including buyer’s premium. The estimate was US $100,000 – US $180,000. 

Christie’s cataloguing states that the reference 6036 was the third generation of the celebrated “Dato Compax” Oyster triple calendar chronograph model by Rolex. Introduced in 1950 it was produced till 1958 before being replaced by the Ref. 6236. The watch featured has a white textured dial variation, nicknamed the “Snow Compax”. Most recognisably the Rolex Dato Compax is also associated with the French Olympic skiing legend and Rolex enthusiast Jean-Claude Killy who wore a Dato Compax. Hence the watch is sometimes referred to as the “Jean-Claude Killy”.

Rolex, “Snow Compax”, Ref. 6036, steel triple calendar chronograph wristwatch (© Photo image courtesy and copyright of Christie’s)


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