Rare Patek Wristwatch Fetches $11 Million, Record Auction Price

  • Stainless steel 1518 model is one of four known to exist
  • Auctioneer Phillips sells $28 million of timepieces in Geneva

A vintage Patek Philippe wristwatch, reference 1518.

Source: Philips

A rare Patek Philippe became the most expensive wristwatch ever sold in an auction as it went under the hammer for $11 million at a sale by Phillips in Geneva.

The stainless steel timepiece, one of only four known to exist, was sold for more than three times the $3 million estimate. The bidding ended after 13 minutes in a duel between two phone bidders.

New York and London-based Phillips opened the Geneva fall watch auction season Saturday and Sunday, raising 27.5 million francs ($28 million). That’s more than the total estimates combined for timepiece sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s scheduled this week.

Rare vintage timepieces are benefiting from their scarcity as modern luxury watch producers endure the worst slump in demand in years. Producers such as Cartier have had to buy back models that failed to sell after the industry produced more than 20 million timepieces a year for more than two decades. 

Read More: Phillips Rides Vintage Timepiece Demand Amid Watchmaking Gloom

The top lot, model number 1518, was a rare perpetual calendar chronograph -- a watch that adjusts for leap-years -- that Patek Philippe produced in 1943.

Phillips expects to sell about 100 million Swiss francs of timepieces this year, auctioneer Aurel Bacs said in an interview earlier this month. In the two years since the firm hired Bacs, the lower-profile auction house has cornered the market in the hardest-to-find watches.

The previous record price for a wristwatch in auction was a $7.3 million Patek Philippe sold by Phillips last November.

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