The watch was one of three 1518 models sold separately during the two-day sale on November 12-13. The record-breaking lot was a rare, stainless steel example and beat the previous record for a wristwatch sold at auction, also set by Phillips. The piece was knocked down after 13-minute battle between two phone bidders. It more than tripled its presale estimate of SFr3m.
“It’s a world record result and strong testimony that the watch market is universally accepted as an important pillar of the international art collector community,” said Phillips senior consultant Aurel Bacs.
The reference 1518 is more commonly seen in pink gold, an example of which was the second highest lot of the auction, taking a total of SFr1.47m (£1.18m) including buyer’s premium. The stainless steel example, however, is so rare that there is no example in the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.
It includes a perpetual calendar chronograph which and adjusts for leap year, includes the phases of the moon and features a tachymeter scale. It was made in 1943, one of 281 pieces made, only four of which were stainless steel. It is the last of the four to appear at auction, and it is the first time in more than a decade that one had appeared at auction.
The watch was part of Phillips’ Geneva Watch Auction, which took a total of SFr27.5m (£22.1m) including buyer’s premium against a pre-sale estimate of CHF 12.5m – 23.8m and reached 93% sales by lot and 97% by value.