2022 in Review: Watches

2022 in Review: Watches

From a Royal Oak to an exceptional Rolex 'Rainbow Khanjar', this has been a year in which classic brands and timeless timekeeping have continued to exert their magic on us all...
From a Royal Oak to an exceptional Rolex 'Rainbow Khanjar', this has been a year in which classic brands and timeless timekeeping have continued to exert their magic on us all...

T his year has been one of the most successful for Sotheby's Watches department in Asia which held in total of eight live and online sales, including a white glove sale of The Nevadian Collector collection in April. This highly-curated sale, charting the ‘Golden Years’ of horological development from the 1940s through the 1980s, featured 40 exceptional timepieces, with the vast majority by Patek Philippe. The collection was led by a pink gold reference 2499 by the renowned Italian retailer Gobbi Milano, the only known pink gold second series featuring a retailer signature on the dial, which sold for HKD 60,265,000.

Other highlights from this sale included a Patek Philippe reference 2499 2nd series, the only known luminous example yellow gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases, luminous baton indexes and hands, which sold for HKD 23,365,000 and a Patek Philippe reference 1518, a pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases and pink dial which sold for HKD 22,760,000.

This record-breaking year – which made a sale total of HKD 605,524,910 – also included the Gérald Genta: Icon of Time sale. For the very first time, and to mark ten years since his passing, Gérald Genta’s personal archive was opened. With the sale of 100 original designs at Sotheby’s starting early 2022, the selection encompassed his most iconic timepieces, never-before-seen private commissions and a selection of innovative, forward-thinking, and unique watch designs. Each physical design was carefully paired with a stunning NFT equivalent which included an artistic digital replica of Genta’s design, with select pieces also including fascinating never-before-seen archive material and multimedia biographical content.

In 2023, the department has several exciting live and online sales planned, starting with the Luxury Edit online sale in January. As Hong Kong quarantine restrictions for inbound visitors have softened, we expect international customers will return and that the biggest watch events, Watches and Wonders Geneva will entice both new clients and seasoned collectors alike.

Watches UK

A ccording to UK Watches specialist Tom Heap, 2022 was a 'very interesting year indeed' in the watch world. 'We have been incredibly fortunate to have secured some exceptional watches that have in turn achieved exceptional results.'

With the 50th anniversary of the famous Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, designed by the equally renowned Gerald Genta, our May Important Watch auctions were highlighted by the sale of Gerald Genta’s personal Royal Oak, setting a world record for the reference 5402 at over two million Swiss Francs. The sale overall achieved almost 23,000,000CHF, selling close to 90% of the lots by value - well over half of which sold beyond their high estimate.

The year ended with an equally impressive sale, featuring masterpieces from Rolex, FP Journe and Patek Philippe. The sale was led by an extraordinarily rare and early FP Journe Resonance, one of only perhaps 10 in existence and the first ever to appear in Geneva at auction. It doubled its low estimate, making just over one million CHF. Similarly intriguing was a unique and complicated Vacheron Constantin Cioccolatone, a watch which initially, Vacheron themselves didn’t know they had made. Confirmed by them finally as a unique piece made circa 1957, the watch achieved over 600,000CHF.

Images from left to right: Rolex' Lemon Paul Newman' Daytona, Ref. 6264 A yellow gold chronograph wristwatch (Circa 1970).
F.P. Journe Résonance 'Pré-production' (Circa 1999).
Vacheron Constantin 'Cioccolatone', Reference 4764 (Circa 1958).
Longines Aviator Amy Johnson's Longines Wittnauer Sidereal, Ref. 38330 Silver wristwatch (Circa 1937).

2022 Sale Highlights (London)

Fine Watches including Masterworks of Time, Collector’s Watches, February (£2,353,502)

  • 99% lots sold
  • 262% sold by value (agg)
  • 210% sold by value (hammer)
  • World record set for a Rolex Day-Date (previous record taken from Phillips sale of Jack Nicklaus Game career worn watch.
  • World record set for a Longines Weems wristwatch, (formerly belonging to Aviation pioneer Amy Johnson)
  • First Tudor RASP offered at auction

Fine Watches, September (£2,589,518)

  • 100% lots sold, first white glove in London in several years 
  • 178% sold by value (agg)
  • 141.8%  sold by value (hammer)
  • Top lot the “Paul Newman” Lemon sold for £1,003,000

'We have seen a very strong and hungry bidding response from the post pandemic and post Brexit UK market in 2022,' says Heap. 'And, having broken world records with an incredibly rare white gold Rainbow Khanja Rolex Day-Date and with strong appetite for vintage watches, pieces with unique provenance and good condition, I think this will continue into 2023.'

Watches Watches

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