The most expensive watch of the year
How is it possible to make a very rare Patek Philippe even rarer and much more expensive? Well, if there’s written “Tiffany & Co.” or perhaps “Asprey” on the dial, then both the value and the demand increases – a lot!
Sotheby’s in Geneva set a new world record for the most expensive watch sold at auction during 2018 with their “Important Watches” auction earlier this week. A truly magnificent and important Patek Philippe ref. 2499 in yellow gold, chronograph with perpetual calendar and moon phase, from 1952 sold for nearly 3.9 million USD! The reason of why the watch became the most expensive watch of the year is mainly due to the Asprey stamp; meaning that it was retailed by Asprey. Well, to clarify, it’s a 2499, one of the finest watches of all time, so even without the retail stamp the value would be in the millions. However, it’s the only known example with the Asprey stamp, which makes it truly unique in comparison to all the other 350 Patek Philippe ref. 2499 that’s ever been made.
The last time this very watch sold was twelve years ago, then for 2.2 million CHF, which is approximately 1.6 million USD less than the 2018 price. In other words – if you want to invest in watches, make sure to buy unique one-of-a-kind pieces!
Last time a Patek Philippe ref. 2499 made massive headlines was in 2012 when it sold for 3.6 million USD by Christie’s. The unique features were two:
1) it belonged to the iconic singer-songwriter Eric Clapton,
2) the watch was in platinum.
A great provenance, such as Clapton, will always add money. But why is platinum a significant feature? Well, there are only about 30 vintage Patek Philippe watches that are made in platinum, and many are owned by Patek Philippe themselves; meaning that you very rarely see vintage Patek Philippe watches in platinum for sale. Even more interestingly, Eric Clapton’s ref. 2499 was originally made personally for Philippe Stern in 1987 – a truly unique watch in only two editions!
When Sotheby’s sold “The Aprey”, they used the phrase “One of the Most Important Vintage Wristwatches in the World” in their marketing. Indeed, the 2499 is widely considered to be one of the all-time greatest wristwatches there is! It was manufactured between 1950 and 1985, during which 349 pieces were made. Out of the 351, almost all were done in yellow gold beside the approximately 10 % in rose gold, and – as written above – Philippe Stern’s personal two-edition platinum watches. In fact, the most expensive watch ever to be sold in Asia is a rose gold 2499, which fetched approximately 3 million USD.
Another interesting fact about the famous ref. 2499 is that there are four different types, knows as first, second, third and fourth series. The differences may not appear to be huge while just reading them, but if you compare the images below then you’ll see the big impact that small features have.
– FIRST SERIES: Square chronograph buttons, applied Arabic numerals and tachometer scale.
– SECOND SERIES: Round chronograph buttons, either applied baton or applied Arabic numerals and tachometer scale.
– THIRD SERIES: Round chronograph buttons, applied baton numerals and outer seconds divisions.
– FOURTH SERIES: Round chronograph buttons, applied baton numerals, outer seconds divisions and sapphire crystal.
Sources: www.sothebys.com, www.phillips.com, www.antiquorum.com