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Luxury Geneva Watch Auction Highlights Spring 2023

Phillips Auction

With spring well underway the major watch auction houses have swung into action in Geneva for some of their biggest events of the year. With multiple watches selling for CHF 1,000,000 and above, let’s take a look at some of the highlights across the various sales.

Christie’s, 12 May: F.P. Journe Platinum Tourbillon Souverain “Souscription Model”, CHF 2,707,000

Christie’s F.P. Journe Platinum Tourbillon Souverain Souscription Model

As part of Christie’s specialist ‘The Art of F. P. Journe’ auction, they sold this incredibly rare Platinum Tourbillon Souverain “Souscription Model” from 1999 marked as number 2 of 20. Souscription means that a client paid 50% of the cost up front and received a discount on the final product, a payment method used in elite watchmaking all the way back to Louis Breguet.

Christie’s F.P. Journe Platinum Tourbillon Souverain Souscription Model

The watch features a constant force tourbillon movement using a remontoire d’egalité with manual winding. In many regards, it was this movement that cemented F.P. Journe as one of the seminal watchmakers of his generation, having been one of the first F.P. Journe watches sold to the public after a development period of roughly six years.

Given the increasing interest in the brand, it’s no surprise that such an important watch in their heritage has commanded such an impressive price of CHF 2,707,000.

Phillips, 13-14 May: JC Biver 00/00 Prototype, CHF 1,270,000

Phillips JC Biver 0000 Prototype

For the most part when we look at watches being sold for over a million, we expect to see certain watchmakers with trusted reputations rise to the top. That’s what makes the sale of the JC Biver 00/00 Prototype for 1.27 million at Phillips’ Geneva Watch Auction XVII such a landmark moment. It’s the first JC Biver watch to be sold. Ever. It was available at the Phillips auction over the weekend and broke the record for highest price paid for a debut watch.

Jean-Claude Biver and son
Jean-Claude Biver

The success of JC Biver isn’t all that surprising given who Mr Biver is, one of the most important figures in the watch industry who’s largely responsible for revitalising modern horology. The watch itself is a prototype of the Tourbillon Minute Repeater Carillon that will be the brand’s first production wristwatch later this year, in September. As a bonus, Jean-Claude Biver himself gifted the winning bidder a bottle of 1949 Château d’Yquem and 2kg of mountain cheese.

Christie’s, 13 May: Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A-018 Tiffany, CHF 2,223,000

Christie’s Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 57111A-018 Tiffany

2021 already seems like a long time ago but one of the headline watches of that year is still making headlines to this day. We’re talking about the Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A-018 Tiffany that was the surprise last hoorah of the 5711 after the model’s discontinuation was announced earlier in the year.

The Tiffany instantly became a favourite among the upper echelons of collectors and celebrities alike, having been spotted on the wrists of personalities like Jay-Z. Arguably it was the pebble that started the avalanche of turquoise watches that have flooded the market. At Christie’s Rare Watches auction it reached an eye watering CHF 2,223,000, meaning the auction estimate of 2 – 4 million was accurate.

Phillips, 13-14 May: Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 Grand Complication, CHF 3,206,000

Phillips Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 Grand Complication

One of the biggest tickets recently was the Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 Grand Complication sold by Phillips for CHF 3,206,000. It’s a perpetual calendar chronograph from 1953 made from pink gold with a diameter of 37.5mm. It is the quintessential vintage dress watch with high complications, one of eight identified watches that have extensively tracked histories. The watch here is known as the 868’606 and came from a European collection, it’s also acknowledge as being the one in the best condition.

Phillips, 13-14 May: Rolex Daytona Ref. 6270 Qaboos, CHF 3,697,000

Phillips Rolex Daytona Ref. 6270 Qaboos
Phillips Rolex Daytona Ref. 6270 Qaboos

These days seeing a jewelled Daytona or sports model isn’t anything too remarkable. However, once upon a time the thought of a diamond Daytona was all but inconceivable. That is, until one of Rolex’s most famous clients, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman requested one. The resulting watches were the Ref. 6269 and this, the Ref. 6270 with diamond-pavé dial and sapphire indexes. It’s one of the rarest Rolexes in existence, which is saying something because there are a lot of highly sought after rare Rolexes.

Don’t forget that you can stay up to date with upcoming auctions via our regularly updated auction calendar.

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