Record auctions. When watches don't just keep the time, they keep the score
The world’s most expensive timepiece? It is the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime, auctioned for 31 million CHF f during the 2019 edition of Only Watch charity auction, held on November 9th in Geneva.
Let’s observe its details and what makes it wonderful: “The Only One”, as the wording on the auxiliary dial says, since it is unique in the world and in steel, a rarity in the Patek Philippe world.
It was first presented in 2014 as the Maison’s celebratory watch, while in 2019, on the occasion of the Only Watch auction, the Ref. 6300A-010 was presented.
20 complications, two of them patented for the first time, double-faced case with Clous de Paris hand-made guilloché motif, with patented rotation mechanism.
This is not the first record obtained by the Maison in Geneva: in 2014, at the auction organized by Sotheby’s, the 1933 Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication reached another memorable figure: 21.3 million dollars.
Three years to design and five years in the making to create what is probably the most famous pocket watch in the world, but also among the most complex ever made: 24 complications including moon-phases and a star map of the New York sky.
Also in the previous years there have been notable auctions: October 27th, 2017 is a date that high watchmaking’s lovers, and not only them, will hardly forget. On this day, at the “Winning Icons – Legendary Watches of the 20th Century” event, one of the sector’s much awaited and celebrated appointments, in just twelve minutes the Rolex Daytona that belonged to actor Paul Newman was auctioned off at the record price of 15.5 million dollars.
This precious timepiece, that stands out for its unmistakeable ‘exotic’ dial, carries with it a piece of Newman family history. The watch was given to the actor by his wife Joanna Woodward in 1968 during the filming of the film “Winning” and bears a very particular inscription on the back, a recommendation made to a man who was always a passionate racing car driver: “Drive Carefully, Me”.
The important record it has achieved reminds us of the earlier bid ceiling reached by another Rolex Daytona, known as “The Unicorn”, ref 6265 in white gold, which went for 5 million euro. Like the legendary animal, this particular model is a complete rarity: the only specimen in white gold made by the Geneva watchmaker, which in the 70’s only made Daytona chronographs in steel or yellow gold.
Let’s go back to 2019 with another important auction which took place during the Only Watch on November 9th : the F.P.Journe Astronomic Souveraine prototype was sold for 1.8 million francs, one of the highest value for an independent brand.
With 6 years of design, this particular chronograph was born in the beginning from an old drawing by the son of Francois-Paul Journe: a draft that became a reality in 2020 with the definitive version of the timepiece, inspired by the stars and the celestial vault.
Steel case, with tourbillon and minute repeater, it is impossible not to get lost in the amazing details such as the hyperrealistic Moon drawn from a NASA picture, as well as the movement decorated in 18-carat rose gold, the white gold dial with clou de Paris finish counters for a total of 758 components.
Once again, the great value of high watchmaking and watches is recognised, as they bear knowledge, stories and emotions that are handed down over time.