Rolex and Patek Philippe outperform among rare watch investments

Rolex and Patek Philippe outperform among rare watch investments

Renowned high-quality brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe outperform among investments in rare vintage watches, while provenance can give further impetus to value.

Christie’s Rare Watches – Rolex ‘The Pink Stelline’

At the Christie’s “Rare Watches” auction in Geneva on May 13, Rolex and Patek Philippe again saw robust demand from collectors around the world, with many lots fetching prices well above pre-sale estimates. Provenance gave a further boost in the sale of an extremely rare and highly attractive stainless steel and pink gold Rolex that had once belonged to artist Andy Warhol. It sold for a hammer price of 380,000 Swiss francs (CHF), well above a pre-sale estimate of 200,000 to 300,000 CHF.

“Provenance can enhance value of high-quality rare watches — and the sale of the Rolex that formerly belonged to Andy Warhol, is a case in point,” said Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s chief auctioneer in the sale. “Rolex’s did particularly well throughout this sale: they are very popular among young people also,” he told IJL.

Christie’s Rare Watches – Rolex ‘Stainless Steel and Pink Gold Chronograph Wristwatch’

Patek Philippe also flourished in the auction, a reflection of the extraordinary craftsmanship and longstanding and illustrious history of the brand. One standout result was the sale at Christie’s of a large and fine 18K white gold automatic Patek Philippe wristwatch for a hammer price of 50,000 Swiss francs (CHF), at the top end of the 30,000 to 50,000 CHF pre-sale estimate.

Among other brands, Richard Mille has emerged as a top performing rare watch brand in the auctions market, Kadakia said. At the Christie’s sale, a very rare and impressive 18K pink gold and titanium automatic semi-skeletonized flyback chronograph Richard Mille wristwatch garnered 110,000 Swiss francs (CHF), versus a pre-sale estimate of 80,000 to 140,000 CHF.

Sotheby’s “Important Watches” Sale

At the Sotheby’s sale in Geneva on May 12, vintage icons won the day, with two 1950s showstoppers by Patek Philippe taking centre stage and Rolex Daytona’s 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 980,000 CHF, a record for this reference in pink gold.

Some 1,100 watch aficionados from 70 countries participated in the Sotheby’s Geneva “Important Watches” auction, which brought a total of 9.1 million CHF, with 81 percent of the lots sold and almost half of them achieving prices above their high estimate.


“These are golden eras and golden models for vintage watches,”

Sam Hines, Global Head of Sotheby’s Watches.

IJL Watch District

Visitors to IJL 2019 can shop leading watch brands at the Watch District, a destination point at the front of the show complete with its very own bar where business can be done in style.


Disclaimer: Any opinions of the author expressed in this article are his own and should not be considered as investment advice.

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David Brough is IJL’s Precious Metals and Gems Editor. David is Co-Founder and Editor of digital magazine Jewellery Outlook and writes monthly precious metals and gemstones Market News for Retail Jeweller magazine. He was a Reuters correspondent and editor for more than 30 years, including 16 years as a foreign correspondent, and covered commodity markets extensively. David won the United Nations A.H. Boerma Award in 2002-3 for his reporting on hunger issues. He graduated from St. Andrews University in Scotland with a MA (Hons) in Economics and French, and has a Certificate in Financial Markets from the Securities Institute of Australia. He speaks fluent French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

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