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Sotheby’s Watches: Highlights from New York, Watches to Start a Collection, Daytona’s, Nautilus’ and More

Sotheby’s Watches: Highlights from New York, Watches to Start a Collection, Daytona’s, Nautilus’ and More


S otheby’s global auctions of modern & vintage watches showcase collectible timepieces from the world’s most iconic manufacturers including the most coveted models, limited editions and rare complications.

Highlights from New York

Sotheby’s auctions offer an array of watches from the most iconic makers in the field, including rare complicated pieces such as minute repeaters and perpetual calendars, as well as vintage pieces in impeccable condition. Below are just some of the many highlights offered in our New York sale from Patek Philippe and Rolex: two firms which have rightfully garnered their global reputations for high quality craftsmanship and technical mastery.

Offered without Reserve

Buying an remarkable timepiece from a trusted brand is more possible than ever before. Discover below a wide variety of watches from watchmakers including Vacheron Constantin, Rolex, and Piaget, all offered without reserve.


In the days before electronic stop watches, the mechanical chronograph was an essential piece of kit for a diverse range of activities; it was a tool used by motor racing enthusiasts, doctors, scientists, photographers and factory managers. Although today, highly accurate time recording can be achieved electronically, the chronograph remains one of the most popular and sought after of all horological ‘complications’ – indeed, few genres of the watch so visibly display the skill of their maker.

Rolex Daytona

The Daytona is one of the world’s most desirable and coveted watches. Its tachymetric calibrated bezel and symmetrical dial layout with three subsidiary counters has dominated the model’s design for more than 50 years. A range of dial designs, from classic monochromatic layouts to the exotic ‘Paul Newman’, have ensured the model’s wide ranging and enduring appeal. In 1988 the model was transformed into an automatic model incorporating the exceptional Zenith El Primero movement, to which Rolex applied some 200 modifications.

Classic Diver's Watches

The ultimate sports watch, the diver’s wristwatch owes much to designs established by Rolex and Blancpain in the first half of the 1950s. Such designs had themselves been greatly influenced by robust water-proof military watches, especially those introduced for and used by the British military towards the end of the Second World War. Bold stainless steel cases, substantial lugs and highly legible black dials with large luminescent numerals have defined the diving watch ever since. Perfect for any occasion, the diving watch is the consummate all-rounder.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

A visionary timepiece that transformed the fortunes of Audemars Piguet, the Royal Oak was designed by Gerald Genta and put into production in 1972. The model’s success lies not only in its versatility – the watch is as well matched to a dinner suit as a wetsuit – but also in its future-proofed design. In 1993, an updated and much enlarged version of the model named the ‘Royal Oak Offshore’ was launched, leading the charge for oversized watches that would dominate watch fashions in the 21st century.

Diamond Watches

Elaborate gem-set watches had been a feature of wristwatch production for much of the 20th century, yet the radical re-interpretation of watch designs witnessed during the 1960s led to the perfection of the so-called ‘dress’ watch during the last quarter of the 20th century. Textured metal and colourful hardstone dials that were especially fashionable during the 1970s and 1980s, were frequently enhanced by an opulent yet sophisticated framework of pavé-set diamonds. Such luxurious refinement acted to emphasize the exclusivity and exceptional quality of the watchmaker’s art.

Patek Philippe Nautilus

Released in 1976, the Nautilus was a surprisingly edgy watch produced by one of the most traditional of Swiss manufacturers, Patek Philippe. Yet the mid-1970s was no ordinary time – economic turbulence and the rise of the quartz watch were taking their toll on the traditional watchmaking industry. Despite its avant-garde styling, the Nautilus was also unapologetic in the traditional methods of its production – an early advertisement noted: “In 1839, the founding year of Patek Philippe, finishing a watch entirely by hand was the rule. Today it is the exception.

Watches to Start A Collection

Whilst starting a watch collection may seem intimidating, Sotheby’s Watches sales are a great place to acquire vintage and modern pieces, ranging from steel sports to elegant dress watches. Discover a superb variety of brands, models and metals from Patek Philippe, Rolex, Cartier, Omega and more, all at accessible price points.

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