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Christie’s Asia sets a new record total for the Watch Division

Christie's auctioneer calls for the Patek Philippe Ref. 2523J Dual Crown World Time, a rare timepiece.

The auction world remains rather resilient compared with luxury retail, which has seen a bit of a slump in recent months.

If auction results are a measure of the state of the world, we’d be celebrating based on Christie’s performance in 2023. In the Americas, its Important Watches sale under the annual Luxury Week live auctions achieved over US$11.2 million, with a sell-through of 96 per cent of the 107 lots presented. Nine of the lots reached above a quarter of a million, and two in particular – a Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon Ref. 5002P-001 sold for US$1.562 million, while a Richard Mille RM 018 Hommage à Boucheron went under the hammer for US$1.26 million, well beyond its expected US$500,000 price. This particular auction also featured one of the Patek Philippe Ref. 3448s owned by Andy Warhol, which sold for US$378,000.

Two rare watches, the Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon and Richard Mille Hommage à Boucheron, both broke the US1 million mark at the Christie's Luxury Week auction last year.
Two rare watches, the Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon and Richard Mille Hommage à Boucheron, both broke the US1 million mark at the Christie's Luxury Week auction last year.

But it is in Asia where the auction house has achieved stellar results. Towards the end of 2023, Christie’s Asia had a running total of US$258 million and counting for its Luxury Sales category. This includes wines and spirits, as well as luxury handbags, jewels, and timepieces. Its Autumn auctions alone contributed over US$105.9 million to this result, the highest ever since 2015, with an overall sell-through of 91 per cent of all lots.

This Patek Philippe Ref. 2523J Dual Crown World Time sold for HKD66 million.
This Patek Philippe Ref. 2523J Dual Crown World Time sold for HKD66 million.

A Millennial Experience

What’s particularly interesting about Christie’s Asia results are the demographic changes we’re seeing in auction participants. Seven in 10 new buyers were Millennials, and four in 10 bids were done online. In the watches category, Millennials made up 40 per cent of new buyers. The statistics reveal auction houses remain strongly relevant to younger consumers, and their tactics in developing digital platforms that Millennials are accustomed to have succeeded. The Autumn sales saw customers from five continents participate via online bidding or live.

The OAK (One-of-a-Kind) Collection has watches such as this Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 with a Gay Frères bracelet.
The OAK (One-of-a-Kind) Collection has watches such as this Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 with a Gay Frères bracelet.

Christie’s Watch Division attained its highest-ever sale total in Asia at US$88 million for 2023, thanks to three noteworthy watch auctions: Important Watches, The OAK Collection Part 1, and The Philippe & Elisabeth Dufour Foundation Charity Auction. These three auctions reached over US$28.6 million in total. One particular watch sale of note was an impeccably well-preserved Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 with Portuguese calendar manufactured in 1950, which sold for over US$2.5 million.

This Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 with Portuguese calendar in pristine condition sold for US$2.5 million.
This Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 with Portuguese calendar in pristine condition sold for US$2.5 million.

Other important lots sold by Christie’s in 2023 include a Patek Philippe Ref. 2523J Dual Crown World Time that sold for HKD66 million, as well as in the jewels division where a 15.48-carat Fancy Intense Pink Internally Flawless Type IIa diamond went for over US$10.8 million. Christie’s results show that the pre-owned vintage market still has room to grow in 2024.

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Editor

Darren has been writing about, and admiring the craft of watchmaking for over a dozen years. He considers himself lucky to live in a golden age of horology, and firmly believes that the most difficult watches to design are the simplest and the most intriguing to discover.


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