World’s Most Expensive Vintage Watches (So Far)

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And they all just got sold by the same auction house.

Look no further for proof that Phillips, in association with Bacs & Russo, is THE auction house with the horological Midas touch.

The house’s recently concluded Geneva Watch Auction: SIX saw prized timepieces going under the hammer for a total of over US$24 million, with several lots breaking world records along the way.

Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 perpetual calendar chronograph in pink gold
Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 perpetual calendar chronograph in pink gold (US$2,724,421)

“Overall, we counted over one thousand registered bidders, showing the ever-growing appeal of vintage watches of the highest quality,” says senior consultant Aurel Bacs, who coaxed the figures at some of the auction’s most intense bids.

Patek Philippe Ref. 2497 perpetual calendar in white gold
Patek Philippe Ref. 2497 perpetual calendar in white gold (US$2,302,357)

Patek Philippe dominated this time, with three world-record prices for their respective references – the Ref. 2499 perpetual calendar chronograph in pink gold (US$2,724,421); the Ref. 2497 perpetual calendar in white gold (US$2,302,357); and the Ref. 5020 perpetual chronograph in platinum (US$494,617).

Patek Philippe Ref. 5020 perpetual chronograph in platinum
Patek Philippe Ref. 5020 perpetual chronograph in platinum (US$494,617)

Without throwing shade on the record-breaking Rolex ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona, which sold for over US$17 million just a month earlier in New York, at another Phillips auction (read all about it here and here), the Geneva Watch Auction saw another sough-after vintage Rolex Daytona hitting a new mark. The Ref. 16528 ‘Big Blue’ yellow gold chronograph with blue dial fetched US$554,875, making it the most expensive automatic Rolex Daytona to be sold at an auction.

Rolex Ref. 16528 ‘Big Blue’ yellow gold chronograph
Rolex Ref. 16528 ‘Big Blue’ yellow gold chronograph (US$554,875)

Omega Prototype Tourbillon
Omega Prototype Tourbillon (US$1,434,642)

The star of the show, however, was Omega's Prototype Tourbillon from 1947. The super-rare steel cased complication sold for US$1,434,642 after a 20-minute bidding frenzy, making it the most expensive Omega watch ever to be sold at an auction.

The unearthing of the rare and pioneering tourbillon wristwatch from a brand that rarely features the complication in its repertoire further adds to Phillips’ now-gilded reputation as the go-to auction house for vintage timekeeping treasures.

Alvin Wong

Editor-in-Chief

Alvin promises not to be a douche when talking about watches. He may have scoured the Basel and Geneva watch fairs for the past 15 years, and played an instrumental role to the growth of Singapore's pioneering horological and men's lifestyle publications, but the intrepid scribe seeks to learn something new with each story he writes.  

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