Auction of the Decade

Record-breaking Spring 2021 Season: Unprecedented performance for the Watch Auctions, registering strongest half-year results ever, worldwide

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Setting numerous new records during an exceptional Spring 2021 Watch Season, in just 4 months (March-June 2021), Christie’s watch sales in Geneva, Dubai, Hong Kong and New York totalled US$ 93.7 million, giving Christie’s the leadership position in the watches auction market. This record performance during the first half of 2021 exceeds Christie’s watch figures for the whole of 2020 and 2019, further strengthening the premier auction house’s position as a global leader in horological sales on live and digital platforms.

The enduring fascination with iconic, rare and beautiful timepieces, together with the vast diversity of offerings, is attracting new bidders from around the globe. More than a trend, it signifies a shift towards a faster-paced, more segmented market.

Some meaningful facts and figures:
§ In the 1st half of 2021, 1681 lots were offered at 10 Christie’s watch auctions, with a combined 92% of lots sold
§ 40% of the lots sold above estimate, indicating desirable curation and strong appetite from the market
§ Christie’s watch sales recorded participation from 79 countries, (+15 vs 1H20)
§ More than 35% of auction registrants were new to Christie’s
§ The market is also opening up to a younger and more diverse profile: 39% of buyers at the watch sales were new to Christie’s, of which 40% are under 40, and 41% are based in APAC, 28% in Americas and 31% in EMEA
§ A fresh balance between ‘live’ and ‘online’ showed that more than one in two bidders in traditional sales (53%) also bid online

§ Hong Kong is the second-largest country by number of new buyers, after the US (followed by the UK, Switzerland and Singapore)
§ Spectacular rise of the Middle East, where the number of registrants has tripled. Christie’s, attentive to the local clientele of great collectors, is the only house with an active Watches department based in Dubai. The region has unquestionably become also an essential hub in the watch market.

4 months. 10 auctions. 4 prime locations. 1 global network in tune with a global community.

The live and online auctions held between March and June this year across four markets – Geneva, Dubai, Hong Kong and New York – combined the advantages of global expertise with the regional knowledge Christie’s watch specialists are known for.

Christie’s reaches #1 position

Aline Sylla-Walbaum, Christie’s Global Managing Director, Luxury Division: “It’s been an exceptionally strong first half of the year for Christie’s watch teams in Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong and New York. Not only in terms of curating a fantastically diverse spectrum of timepieces at the highest levels of rarity, importance and value, but also opening the market to a much larger client base. Whether it was an iconic legend to wear every day, a foundation timekeeper to begin a collection, or that rarest of finds to end a decades-long search, our leadership position speaks to the expertise of our specialists and delivering our client wishes.”

Highlights across Christie’s markets

Christie’s auctions in Geneva, Dubai, Hong Kong and New York presented true standout timekeepers this Spring season, notably several historically important pieces:

Christie’s reaches #1 positionIn Hong Kong, a unique 18k gold Patek Philippe automatic perpetual calendar wristwatch with English calendar, leap year indication and “no moon” Ref. 3448 “Alan Banbery” (manufactured in 1970, specially modified in 1975) which reached US$ 3,759,755 and set a new auction record for the reference. A Patek Philippe Ref. 2523/1 two crown world time wristwatch achieved US$ 2,051,364 (almost double its low estimate of US$ 1,035,389). A Patek Philippe wristwatch Ref. 1415 with enamel dial achieved auction record for the reference with US$ 1,035,389 (more than double its low estimate). A Patek Philippe Ref. 2481, also with enamel dial, achieved US$ 1,010,798 setting a new auction record as well as for the reference (4 times above the low estimate $258,847).

Christie’s reaches #1 positionIn Dubai, a Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon Ref. 5002P-001 (manufactured in 2004) sold for an online record US$ 1,590,000, setting two new records simultaneously, for the most expensive watch sold at auction in the Middle East and for any watch sold online at Christie’s.

Also, La Grande Sonnerie No.1, in platinum Ref. G0025.7 by Gérald Genta, estimated at US$ 30,000-40,000, sold for US$ 500,000, whilst a yellow gold Grande Sonnerie No. 3 by Genta achieved 10 times its low estimate, selling for US$ 300,000. A rare 1952 steel Rolex, triple calendar chronograph Snow Compax, Ref. 6036, tripled its pre- sale estimate and found a new owner at US$ 350,000.

Christie’s reaches #1 positionIn Geneva, a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar Ref. 1518 in rose gold (manufactured in 1951) retailed by Serpico Y Laino, achieved US$1,502,971 against the low estimate of US$488,740.

Also a Patek Philippe World Time pocket watch Ref. 605 with a cloisonné enamel dial which sold more than double the low estimate, achieving US$1,271,861; and an important F.P. Journe platinum Chronomètre Souverain, made for and presented to George Daniels, that went for US$ 420,657 (against a low estimate of CHF 170,000, an auction record for the model).

Christie’s reaches #1 positionIn New York, a Cartier Art Deco Pendule Mystérieuse clock Modèle A (manufactured in circa 1925) which sold for US$ 562,500, a Patek Philippe perpetual calendar chronograph Ref. 2499/100 sold US$ 475,000, more recently the Patek Philippe Calatrava Ref. 570 owned by pop art icon Andy Warhol, which sold three times its low estimate achieving, US$ 150,000, a perpetual calendar chronograph Patek Philippe Ref. 3990EP in platinum set with diamonds that realized US$ 200,000, and a Rolex Ref. 6036 “Jean-Claude Killy” triple calendar chronograph that sold for US$ 187,500.

Looking ahead to the next season

With strong consignments already confirmed for September and beyond, the market leading position of the Christie’s watches department will be further reinforced with appointments to the New York team. Always mindful to enhance the knowledge of our department and the quality of our client service, Christie’s is delighted that Keith Davis (as Head of Department, Watches New York) and Adam Victor (as Senior Consultant New York) will further strengthen the Christie’s New York Watches department.

Keith Davis, who joins Christie’s from another auction house, previously held positions with both Vacheron-Constantin and Richemont North America. Adam Victor, a passionate watch collector and transactor, brings expertise from the world of luxury fashion, among others at Donna Karan. Keith and Adam will be taking up their new roles in July.

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