: The Most Expensive Watches Sold at Auction
Text Nicholas Biebuyck

It is hard to get an overview of what exactly are the most expensive watches in the world. Of course there are the unverified Recommended Retail Prices of relatively unknown brands using sticker shock to get some PR mileage, when often these new watches don’t even sell, or if they do, it’s at a hugely discounted price.

With auction results from the major houses, we have a relatively transparent view of the prices paid, as the figures published are correct and legally binding for both the buyer to the house, and the house to the consignor. In addition, the results can be verified through the network of top end collectors who know each other well in this sector of the market.

While other tables have appeared, many are out of date, and are often benchmarked in USD, whereas CHF is the more appropriate currency given that the majority of the watches were sold in a Geneva auction, and of course were originally made in Switzerland.

Please note that the results are not inflation adjusted so represent absolutely total CHF price inclusive of premium on the day, and those sold outside of Switzerland have had the conversion calculated using the historic rate from the very useful xe.com currency table. Results, where it was difficult to verify if the transaction was completed, have been omitted.

Crunching the numbers pulls out some interesting statistics; excluding watches that have come up twice, 72 watches have sold for in excess of 2M CHF, representing a sum total of 311M CHF. Patek Philippe is the dominant brand making up 82% of the list, and interestingly, yellow gold is the top material at 44%, followed by pink gold, then steel, and platinum. Unsurprisingly the Patek Philippe reference 2499 is the most frequent entry with 15%, with the double crown world time reference 2523 at 8%. Wristwatches account for 78% or results, while pocket watches represent the remaining 22%.

When it comes to the houses, by individual lots, Christie’s comes out first with 39%, then relative newcomer Phillips at 26%, Antiquorum at  18%, Sotheby’s with 11%, and the Only Watch charity auctions with 6%. But working on total values and things balance out a bit: Christie’s come in at 29%, Phillips 26%, Antiquorum 15%, Sotheby’s with 15%, and Only Watch with 15%. By location, Geneva is the clear winner at 76%, with Hong Kong next at 13%, New York at 7%, before Monaco and London round things out.

Watches that have done a lap of honour in returning to the market are: the Graves Super Complication and minute repeating wristwatch, the Daniels Space Traveller II, the Asprey 1st series 2499, the pink fold 2523 with blue Gobbi-signed dial, and the first split-seconds chronograph from Patek which inspired the reference 5959.

Without further ado, please see the complete listing below, and if you have any further observations, do get in touch: [email protected].

# House Date Location Make Price CHF Notes
1 Only Watch Nov 2019 Geneva Patek Philippe 31,000,000 Steel 6300 Only Watch 2019
2 Sotheby’s Nov 2014 Geneva Patek Philippe 23,237,000 Graves Super Complication
3 Phillips Oct 2017 New York Rolex 17,323,129 Paul Newman Paul Newman
4 Phillips Nov 2016 Geneva Patek Philippe 11,002,000 Steel 1518
5 Christie’s Nov 2019 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 8,943,325 2523 pink gold blue enamel Gobbi dial
6 Only Watch Nov 2015 Geneva Patek Philippe 7,300,000 Steel 5016 Only Watch 2015
7 Antiquorum Apr 2002 Geneva Patek Philippe 6,603,500 Platinum 1415
8 Antiquorum Apr 2004 Geneva Patek Philippe 6,603,500 White gold Calibre 89
9 Christie’s May 2010 Geneva Patek Philippe 6,259,000 Unique perpetual calendar chronograph 1527
10 Only Watch Nov 2017 Geneva Patek Philippe 6,200,000 Titanium 5208 Only Watch 2017
11 Phillips May 2018 Geneva Rolex 5,937,500 Unicorn white gold Daytona
12 Antiquorum Nov 2009 Geneva Patek Philippe 5,120,000 Yellow gold Calibre 89
13 Phillips May 2017 Geneva Rolex 5,066,000 Bao Dai 6062
14 Phillips May 2015 Geneva Patek Philippe 4,645,000 130 steel The Doctor’s Wristwatch
15 Christie’s November 2019 Geneva Patek Philippe 4,575,000 Henry Graves minute repeater
16 Sotheby’s July 2019 London George Daniels 4,514,810 Space Traveller I
17 Christie’s May 2012 Geneva Breguet 4,339,000 Garcias double movement pocketwatch
18 Sotheby’s Sep 2017 London George Daniels 4,159,703 Space Traveller II
19 Christie’s May 2008 Geneva Patek Philippe 4,127,000 Briggs Cunningham steel 1526
20 Sotheby’s Nov 2018 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,915,000 Asprey 1st series 2499
21 Antiquorum Jun 2002 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 3,912,097 Gradowski clockwatch
22 Christie’s Nov 2012 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,779,000 The J.B. Champion
23 Phillips May 2017 Geneva Rolex 3,722,000 Gold screw pusher lemon Newman “Legend”
24 Only Watch Sep 2013 Monaco Patek Philippe 3,654,486 Titanium 5004 Only Watch 2013
25 Christie’s Nov 2012 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,443,000 Platinum 2499
26 Antiquorum Apr 2005 Geneva Vacheron Constantin 3,306,250 King Fouad pocketwatch
27 Phillips Nov 2015 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,301,000 Steel 1436
28 Christie’s Nov 2018 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,252,500 Serpico 1st series 2499
29 Christie’s May 2016 Geneva Breguet 3,245,000 Havas pocketwatch
30 Christie’s May 2011 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,235,000 1928 white gold single button chronograph
31 Christie’s May 2008 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,207,400 Platinum 2497
32 Antiquorum Oct 2002 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,193,500 Pink 1st series 2499 pulsation Freccero dial
33 Christie’s Nov 2012 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 3,093,882 Star Calibre
34 Phillips de Pury Nov 2001 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,083,500 Early centre seconds perpetual calendar in gold
35 Sotheby’s Nov 2018 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 2,953,525 Pink 3rd series 2499 Tiffany dial
36 Antiquorum Apr 2002 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,918,500 White gold 130
37 Christie’s May 2017 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,911,500 Selassie 2497
38 Phillips Nov 2017 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 2,809,697 2523 double crown guilloche centre
39 Christie’s Nov 2009 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,787,000 The first centre seconds perpetual calendar
40 Phillips Nov 2017 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,772,500 Pink 3rd series 2499
41 Christie’s May 2012 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,771,000 2523 double crown North America map, Manila
42 Antiquorum Apr 2002 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,753,500 1415 Eurasia cloisonné dial
43 Christie’s May 2007 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,736,000 Pink 2nd series 2499 Gobbi dial
44 Sotheby’s Jun 2014 New York Patek Philippe 2,652,483 Early single button chrono, 5959 inspiration
45 Christie’s Nov 2014 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,629,000 Pink 1st series 2499
46 Christie’s May 2012 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,547,000 Pink 1st series 2499
47 Christie’s May 2012 Geneva Breguet 2,547,000 Peyronnet pocketwatch
48 Christie’s Nov 2005 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,540,000 Graves Grande Complication
49 Phillips de Pury May 2002 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,533,500 Duke Ellington split second
50 Phillips May 2016 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 2,522,150 Pink 3rd series 2499
51 Christie’s Nov 2007 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,513,000 Early centre seconds perpetual calendar in steel
52 Phillips May 2016 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 2,491,636 2523 double crown guilloché centre
53 Christie’s November 2019 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 2,462,839 6002 Sky Moon Tourbillon black dial
54 Antiquorum Mar 2009 New York Zenith 2,427,709 Ghandi’s pocketwatch
55 Phillips May 2019 Geneva George Daniels 2,420,000 Super Complication
56 Phillips May 2016 Geneva Rolex 2,405,000 Oversized split second chronograph
57 Christie’s Nov 2013 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,372,000 1925 left handed split second chronograph
58 Sotheby’s May 2008 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,345,000 Count Trossi oversized chronograph
59 Phillips Nov 2019 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 2,313,064 Sky Moon Tourbillon red markers
60 Phillips Nov 2017 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,292,500 White gold 2497 with bracelet
61 Phillips December 2019 New York Patek Philippe 2,265,955 Pink 1518
62 Christie’s May 2004 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,252,000 Graves platinum tourbillon pocketwatch
63 Antiquorum Apr 2006 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,250,500 2523 double crown North America map
64 Christie’s Nov 2014 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,225,000 2523 double crown blue enamel
65 Antiquorum Apr 2004 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,203,500 Steel 530 sector chronograph
66 Christie’s Jun 2013 New York Patek Philippe 2,122,095 Palmer complicated pocketwatch
67 Phillips de Pury Nov 2002 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,102,200 Pink 1st series 2499
68 Christie’s Nov 2011 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,099,000 Pink gold 3448 Freccero
69 Antiquorum Nov 2000 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,093,500 1938 perpetual calendar
70 Antiquorum Apr 1996 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,093,500 1939 minute repeating perpetual calendar
71 Christie’s Nov 2014 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,045,000 White gold 2497 with bracelet
72 Sotheby’s May 2003 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,029,600 Reference 96 perpetual calendar