- Arthur Touchot

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: SIX was the third and final sale of the Spring 2018 season, during which Phillips sold 447 watches for a grand total of $61 million. Held at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, the final auction before the Summer break confirmed the health of the watch collecting market but also offered some interesting insights into the current state of the vintage market. Here are five lessons from this week's sale. 

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Is In A League Of Its Own

Taking first place among Daytona watches tonight, this Rolex Ref. 6263 Paul Newman "Panda" dial.

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: SIX closes the first half of the auction season, during which three separate auctions were held and 70 Daytonas went under the hammer. The obvious takeaway is this: the Daytona is the watch that collectors around the world want most. Every single Daytona offered at auction, not matter the reference or the year of production, found a buyer. The season began with the Daytona Ultimatum achieving $22 million for 32 exceptionally rare and well preserved Daytonas, but others included in the Geneva Watch Auction: SEVEN and the Hong Kong Watch Auction: SIX were equally well received by collectors, whose appetite for these sports watches shows absolutely no sign of waning.

Vintage Wristwatches Find A New Home In Hong Kong

The Blancpain "Milspec 1" Fifty Fathoms included in the auction sold for CHF462,500.

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: SIX would be led by classic vintage watches. Thomas Perazzi made the promise when he joined Phillips in November 2017, and today’s results more than justified the auctioneer’s decision to include watches which previously would have been reserved for the Geneva sales. Returning for the sixth time to Hong Kong, Phillips presented a catalogue rich with vintage timepieces from the world’s oldest manufactures, such as the Blancpain "Milspec 1" Fifty Fathoms shown above which sold for, HK$462,500, more than double its high-estimate. The results achieved by these watches confirms there’s no longer a single best selling location for watches of this type and that indeed, collectors from all over the world will be present for them, whatever the place and hour, in person or online. Modern watches continue to excite collectors from the region though, as evidence by the great competition for the Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon and Richard Mille Ref. RM 003 AC CA included in the sale. 

Classic Patek Philippe References Continue To Dominate The Top Ten

The present yellow gold Ref. 1518 was just one of the many great Patek Philippe models included in the sale that achieved a very strong result.

As usual, classic models from Patek Philippe were present in the top ten results of the sale. Historically important watches including perpetual calendars such as the very rare pink gold reference 2438/1 and the yellow gold reference 1518 (the world’s first serially produced perpetual calendar wristwatch with chronograph) achieved very strong results, respectively selling for HK$4,540,000 and HK$3,700,000, while rare chronographs such as the reference 1436 and reference 1463 included in the sale also recorded impressive totals. More modern Patek Philippe models, such as the following platinum reference 3939 also performed very well. The Ref. 3939 sold for HK$2,860,000. Quite simply, it was a faultless showing from the prestigious Swiss manufacturer.

Complicated wristwatches from Patek Philippe, including this relatively modern minute repeating tourbillon Ref. 3939HP, were met with great enthusiasm by watch collectors.

Pocket Watches and Dome Clocks Remain Strong In Hong Kong

Asian collectors, who have always shown great interest in pocket watches and dome clocks, responded very well to the models offered earlier today. The big surprise of the evening was the result for a pair of very attractive Edouard Juvet pocket watches, sold as a single lot with a pre-sale estimate fixed at HK$165,000 - 250,000. The watches sold for HK$1,250,000. Minute repeating and complicated pocket watches from better known manufacturers, including elegant pocket watches from Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Cartier, received very strong interest as well and many comfortably cleared their high estimates. But the star lot of the auction was a fresh-to-market Patek Philippe dome clock decorated with polychrome cloisonné enamel scene depicting pandas in the wild. It sold for HK$ 2,187,500 (pre-sale estimate: HK$ 800,000-1,800,000).

Collectors Are Searching For Watches Out Of The Ordinary

A probably unique Patek Philippe Ref. 2526 with black enamel dial did much better than its pre-sale estimate.

Many of the watches included in the Hong Kong Watch Auction: SIX were models that just don’t come up at auction very often. In fact, some had never been presented to the public before, and in many cases there were watches that hadn’t been opened or worn by their previous owner (the sought-after sealed and double-sealed models). Part of the reason why collectors show up and are ready to spend heavily on these watches is precisely down to their incredibly limited availability. Earlier this week, we highlighted two peculiar Rolex wristwatches, a possibly unique left-handed GMT-Master Ref. 6542 and one of the very few know first generation Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665 without a helium valve on the side of its case.

The auction's top lot, a rare, first generation Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665 without helium valve, achieved HK$4,900,000.

In fact, it was the Sea-Dweller which, as expected before the sale, achieved the highest result of the sale, but the left-handed GMT-Master may have left a bigger impression on the night, as it simply flew past its pre-sale estimate (HK$640,000 - 960,000) and sold for HK$2,125,000. There were other strong results for unique models from other manufacturers, including another prototype diver, this time from Omega. The Omega Seamaster 1000m f300Hz went for HK$750,000, an impressive result and well beyond its pre-sale estimate. Another strong performance came from the military-styled Patek Philippe Ref. 2526, which sold for HK$2,375,000. 

For more information on the Hong Kong Watch Auction: SIX, including full results of the sale (inc. buyer's premium), please visit the online catalogue here.