The Most In-Demand Timepieces, from Current Classics to Rare Finds

The Most In-Demand Timepieces, from Current Classics to Rare Finds


W hen buying a watch, detail is everything. From the manufacturer to the shape, material and colour, to special edition design features or limited production runs, there are many elements to consider and it can often be somewhat of a quest to find the perfect watch for you.

With newer designs, some of the most desirable can be tricky to obtain, with long waiting lists lasting years. In other cases, the most sought-after pieces may no longer be manufactured, meaning that the only option is to buy from previous owners, but with the guarantee that you'll be owning a piece of horological history.

Sotheby's upcoming Watches Online sale offers the opportunity to find that elusive timepiece, with an unprecedented selection of both modern and vintage timepieces, ranging from the current market’s most desirable Rolex, Patek Philippe and Omega sports watches to more a more specialized offering from independent watch Masters such as FP Journe.

Rolex Daytona

Rolex, Zenith Daytona, Ref 16520, stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with bracelet and 'inverted 6' dial, circa 1988. Estimate: CHF 15,000–30,000

While current stainless steel Daytona models are commanding an average of eight years on a waiting list, this early stainless-steel automatic Daytona showcases just the patina and details that collectors are longing for. It is the first reference to rely on an automatic movement, supplied by Zenith and thoroughly modified by Rolex. Its early Tritium dial displays an inverted six, paired with a patina which only time can create. Sotheby’s is delighted to offer this collectible vintage Rolex to collectors, purveying the opportunity for a highly sought-after, discontinued and appreciating addition to a solid collection.

Omega Speedmaster

Omega Speedmaster, Ref 2998-5, stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with bracelet, circa 1961. Estimate: CHF 20,000–30,000

Early Omega Speedmasters have become extremely difficult to find in good and original condition. The relatively small production numbers coupled with over half a century of technical wear mean collectors hold on to their finest examples and select the best distribution channels should they wish to sell. Sotheby’s is happy to offer the present reference 2998-5, which stands among the brand’s most talked about models. Omega indeed based several of its recent re-launches on the 2998 design. Why not get the real deal?

FP Journe Centigraphe Souverain

FP Journe, Centigraphe Souverain, Ref CTS, aluminium chronograph wristwatch with bracelet, circa 2013. Estimate: CHF 25,000–45,000

Founded in 1999 by eponymous watchmaker François Paul Journe, this independent watchmaking brand showcases some of the most creative mechanical approaches to the art of timekeeping. The present aluminium Centigraphe Souverain is precisely the opposite of what Journe watches are known for. It boasts extreme lightness and a truly remarkable mechanical tour-de-force. The chronograph displays elapsed time with an accuracy up to the 100th of a second, in a compact, extremely comfortable and sports-oriented package. This highly impressive wristwatch is furthermore discontinued in this specific livery, making this lot a great opportunity to buy into the fascinating Journe history.

Patek Philippe Nautilus

Patek Philippe, Nautilus, Ref 5711, stainless steel wristwatch with date and bracelet, circa 2016. Estimate: CHF 60,000–80,000

The Nautilus has become the hottest watch on the market and is tightly holding onto its place as an absolute must-have in any serious collection. The reference 5711 was launched in 2006 to celebrate the model's 30th anniversary. It is powered by the tried-and-tested calibre 324 with central seconds and date display, making it a solid automatic companion for any daily endeavor. The reference 5711 stands amongst the most difficult timepieces to acquire at retail stores, due to waiting lists induced by a sky-rocketing demand. With the only way to get hold of the watch currently being the second-hand market, Sotheby’s is happy to offer the present example, dated from 2016 and accompanied by its original documentation and presentation case, as an elegant and sporty timepiece, and an indisputably sound buy.

Rolex Panama Canal

Rolex, 'Panama Canal' Submariner, Ref 16613, limited edition stainless steel and yellow gold wristwatch with date and bracelet made to commemorate the transfer of the Panama Canal from the United States to the Republic of Panama, circa 1999. Estimate: CHF 25,000–40,000

While auctions can be a great shortcut to acquiring highly popular modern watches, collectors can also find incredibly niche and often unknown timepieces for sale. The present Panama Canal reference 16613 belongs to this category of pieces, with just 75 produced in 1999 to commemorate the transfer of the Panama Canal from the USA to the Republic of Panama. This exceptionally rare timepiece comes with a specifically decorated dial and bears its individual number 57/75 on its back. A spectacular opportunity for any Rolex collector.

Rolex GMT

Rolex, 'Pepsi' GMT-Master, Ref 16750, stainless steel dual time wristwatch with date and bracelet, circa 1982. Estimate: CHF 9,000–12,000

The Rolex GMT has unsurprisingly become a very collectible model, as the market took note of the richness of its history and scarcity of its very early examples. The diversity offered by the GMT-Master variants over 66 years of history allows collectors to fully indulge in the art of collecting this model, leading to deeper research and understanding of their intricacies. The present example bears the reference 16750 and dates from 1982. It is, in fact, the last reference alongside the 16760 to bear a matte tritium dial before the official transition to glossy dials with circled white gold indexes in 1986. This increasingly sought-after reference boasts vintage visual attributes and is geared towards mechanical innovation, showcasing the cal. 3075 allowing for a date quickset feature and beating at a modern 28,800 BPH.

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