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While other tables have appeared, many are out of date, and are often benchmarked in USD, where as CHF is the more appropriate currency given that the majority of the watches were sold in a Geneva auction, and of course were originally made there.

Please note that the results are not inflation adjusted so represents absolutely total CHF price inclusive of premium on the day, and those sold outside of Switzerland have had the conversation 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, 68 watches have sold for in excess of 2M CHF, represent a sum total of 260M CHF. Patek Philippe is the dominant brand making up 81% of the list, and interestingly yellow gold is the top material at 47%, followed by pink gold, then steel, and platinum. Unsurprisingly the Patek Philippe reference 2499 is the most frequent entry with 16%, the the double crown world time reference 2523 at 9%. Wristwatches account for 76% or results, while pocket watches represent the remaining 24%.

When it comes to the houses, by individual lots, Christie’s comes out 1st with 40%, then relative newcomer Phillips at 26%, Antiquorum at  21%, and Sotheby’s with 13%. But working on total values and things balance out a bit, although relative positions are maintained: Christie’s come in at 33%, Phillips 31%, Antiquorum 19%, and Sotheby’s with 17%. By location Geneva is the clear winner at 79%, with Hong Kong next at 9%, 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, the Daniels Space Traveller II, the Asprey 1st series 2499, and the first split-second 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 Sotheby’s Nov 2014 Geneva Patek Philippe 23,237,000 Graves Super Complication
2 Phillips Oct 2017 New York Rolex 17,323,129 Paul Newman Paul Newman
3 Phillips Nov 2016 Geneva Patek Philippe 11,002,000 Steel 1518
4 Phillips Nov 2015 Geneva Patek Philippe 7,300,000 Steel 5016 Only Watch 2015
5 Antiquorum Apr 2002 Geneva Patek Philippe 6,603,500 Platinum 1415
6 Antiquorum Apr 2004 Geneva Patek Philippe 6,603,500 White gold Calibre 89
7 Christie’s May 2010 Geneva Patek Philippe 6,259,000 Unique perpetual calendar chronograph 1527
8 Christie’s Nov 2017 Geneva Patek Philippe 6,200,000 Titanium 5208 Only Watch 2017
9 Phillips May 2018 Geneva Rolex 5,937,500 Unicorn white gold Daytona
10 Antiquorum Nov 2009 Geneva Patek Philippe 5,120,000 Yellow gold Calibre 89
11 Phillips May 2017 Geneva Rolex 5,066,000 Bao Dai 6062
12 Phillips May 2015 Geneva Patek Philippe 4,645,000 130 steel – The Doctor’s Wristwatch
13 Sotheby’s July 2019 London George Daniels 4,514,810 Space Traveller I
14 Christie’s May 2012 Geneva Breguet 4,339,000 Garcias double movement pocketwatch
15 Sotheby’s Sep 2017 London George Daniels 4,159,703 Space Traveller II
16 Christie’s May 2008 Geneva Patek Philippe 4,127,000 Briggs Cunningham steel 1526
17 Sotheby’s Nov 2018 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,915,000 Asprey 1st series 2499
18 Antiquorum Jun 2002 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 3,912,097 Gradowski clockwatch
19 Christie’s Nov 2012 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,779,000 The J.B. Champion
20 Phillips May 2017 Geneva Rolex 3,722,000 Gold screw pusher lemon Newman “Legend”
21 Antiquorum Sep 2013 Monaco Patek Philippe 3,654,486 Titanium 5004 Only Watch 2013
22 Christie’s Nov 2012 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,443,000 Platinum 2499
23 Antiquorum Apr 2005 Geneva Vacheron Constantin 3,306,250 King Fouad pocketwatch
24 Phillips Nov 2015 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,301,000 Steel 1436
25 Christie’s Nov 2018 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,252,500 Serpico 1st series 2499
26 Christie’s May 2016 Geneva Breguet 3,245,000 Havas pocketwatch
27 Christie’s May 2011 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,235,000 1928 white gold single button chronograph
28 Christie’s May 2008 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,207,400 Platinum 2497
29 Antiquorum Oct 2002 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,193,500 Pink 1st series 2499 pulsation Freccero dial
30 Christie’s Nov 2012 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 3,093,882 Star Calibre
31 Phillips de Pury Nov 2001 Geneva Patek Philippe 3,083,500 Early centre seconds perpetual calendar in gold
32 Sotheby’s Nov 2018 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 2,953,525 Pink 3rd series 2499 Tiffany dial
33 Antiquorum Apr 2002 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,918,500 White gold 130
34 Christie’s May 2017 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,911,500 Selassie 2497
35 Sotheby’s Jun 2012 New York Patek Philippe 2,862,346 Henry Graves minute repeater
36 Phillips Nov 2017 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 2,809,697 2523 double crown guilloche centre
37 Christie’s Nov 2009 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,787,000 The first centre seconds perpetual calendar
38 Phillips Nov 2017 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,772,500 Pink 3rd series 2499
39 Christie’s May 2012 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,771,000 2523 double crown North America map, Manila
40 Antiquorum Apr 2002 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,753,500 1415 Eurasia cloisonne dial
41 Christie’s May 2007 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,736,000 Pink 2nd series 2499 Gobbi dial
42 Christie’s Nov 2010 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,675,000 2523 pink gold blue enamel Gobbi dial
43 Sotheby’s Jun 2014 New York Patek Philippe 2,652,483 Early single button chrono, 5959 inspiration
44 Christie’s Nov 2014 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,629,000 Pink 1st series 2499
45 Christie’s May 2012 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,547,000 Pink 1st series 2499
46 Christie’s May 2012 Geneva Breguet 2,547,000 Peyronnet pocketwatch
47 Christie’s Nov 2005 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,540,000 Graves Grande Complication
48 Phillips de Pury May 2002 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,533,500 Duke Ellington split second
49 Phillips May 2016 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 2,522,150 Pink 3rd series 2499
50 Christie’s Nov 2007 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,513,000 Early centre seconds perpetual calendar in steel
51 Phillips May 2016 Hong Kong Patek Philippe 2,491,636 2523 double crown guilloche centre
52 Antiquorum Mar 2009 New York Zenith 2,427,709 Ghandi’s pocketwatch
53 Phillips May 2019 Geneva George Daniels 2,420,000 Super Complication
54 Phillips May 2016 Geneva Rolex 2,405,000 Oversized split second chronograph
55 Christie’s Nov 2013 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,372,000 1925 left handed split second chronograph
56 Sotheby’s May 2008 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,345,000 Count Trossi oversized chronograph
57 Phillips Nov 2017 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,292,500 White gold 2497 with bracelet
58 Christie’s May 2004 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,252,000 Graves platinum tourbillon pocketwatch
59 Antiquorum Apr 2006 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,250,500 2523 double crown North America map
60 Christie’s Nov 2014 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,225,000 2523 double crown blue enamel
61 Antiquorum Apr 2004 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,203,500 Steel 530 sector chronograph
62 Christie’s Jun 2013 New York Patek Philippe 2,122,095 Palmer complicated pocketwatch
63 Phillips de Pury Nov 2002 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,102,200 Pink 1st series 2499
64 Christie’s Nov 2011 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,099,000 Pink gold 3448 Freccero
65 Antiquorum Nov 2000 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,093,500 1938 perpetual calendar
66 Antiquorum Apr 1996 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,093,500 1939 minute repeating perpetual calendar
67 Christie’s Nov 2014 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,045,000 White gold 2497 with bracelet
68 Sotheby’s May 2003 Geneva Patek Philippe 2,029,600 Reference 96 perpetual calendar