2023 In Review: Watches

2023 In Review: Watches

T his year marked the return of “trophy” vintage watches to the auction scene, as well as continued interest and strength in independent watchmaking. We have also seen that storytelling and watches with provenance continue to be of significant interest to collectors around the world. Sotheby’s global team secured two new world records for the coveted Rolex “John Player Special” Daytonas: an 18k gold example achieved $2.5 million in Geneva, while New York sold a 14k gold example in December for $1.5 million. The New York watches team also brought a previously unknown Patek Philippe 1518 “pink-on-pink” to market, which resulted in a $3.9 million result.

Independent brands also saw their share of world records at Sotheby’s Geneva, where the sole example of a Daniels Millenium cosigned by Roger Smith achieved $2.5 million. Sotheby’s Hong Kong celebrated its 50th year by hosting a landmark sale of Richard Mille in October, which was led by an extraordinary Blue Sapphire RM53-03 that soared to achieve a $4.6 million result.

2023 Trends and Predictions for 2024

As the collecting world continues to evolve, we think there will be strengthening interest in watches with stories and unique provenance. Whether that be watches that explored the depth of the oceans or appeared on-screen in movies. Watches continue to be emotive icons that allow us to relive important moments in time, and mark important occasions.

Overall, we have seen the market continue to reward quality. The return to “trophy” vintage pieces – such as our John Player Specials and the Tiffany & Co. retailed Patek 1463 – exemplify this trend. We have also seen the collecting community begin to reward brands like Breguet during their Daniel Roth era, as interest and scholarship grows around the independent watchmaking community.

Watches have also become icons of design, and the community is increasingly excited about unique designs. 2023 saw exceptional results for Patek Philippes designed by Gilbert Albert and great designs from Cartier’s library, like the “Crash” and “Asymetric.” Watches are being admired for their beauty as much as their mechanical prowess, and it’s a trend we welcome as it continues to bring new people into the exciting world of watch collecting.

Watches 2023 in Review

More from Sotheby's

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

arrow Created with Sketch. Back To Top