09 November 2020



Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo Achieves

CHF 38 Million in Watch Auctions


Marking the Highest Ever Annual Sale Total for Geneva Watch Auctions with a Combined CHF 69 Million


The Geneva Watch Auction: XII Realises Over CHF 25 Million, with the World Time 2523/1 Model by Patek Philippe Selling for a Record

CHF 5 Million to an Online Bidder




RETROSPECTIVE: 2000 - 2020 Realises CHF 13.5 Million in a White Glove Sale, Led by the Philippe Dufour Simplicity 20th Anniversary Model in Rose Gold for CHF 1.3 Million


The Auctions saw Unprecedented Online Participation with Over 2,300 Bidders from 66 Countries



Auctioneer Aurel Bacs selling the Patek Philippe Reference 2523/1 in The Geneva Watch Auction: XII for a record price.


GENEVA – 9 NOVEMBER 2020 – Following the success of the ‘White Glove’ watch auction held by Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo in Geneva last season, the highly-anticipated Geneva Watch Auction: XII and RETROSPECTIVE: 2000 - 2020 achieved a combined total of CHF 38,749,668 / $43,058,631 / €36,273,564. The results conclude the year with the highest ever annual total for Phillips Watch auctions in Geneva, with multiple records set for models by Patek Philippe and several independent makers. Over the three-day auction series, an unprecedented number of bidders participated, including a record number of over 2,300 online bidders.



The Geneva Watch Auction: XII

Sale Total: CHF 25,199,788 / $28,002,004 / €23,589,521


Lots Sold: 173 | Lots Offered: 178                                      Sold by Lot: 97% | Sold by Value: 98%


The Geneva Watch Auction: XII brought in over CHF 25 million, exceeding the pre-sale estimate of CHF 12.8 to 24.2 million and selling 97% by lot and 98% by value. The star of the double-evening auction was the new world record set for the extremely rare Patek Philippe Ref. 2523/1 in rose gold with guilloche dial. After a seven-minute bidding war, the watch eventually sold to an online bidder in Germany for CHF 4,991,000, marking a new record price for a lot purchased online in a Phillips auction, as the market shows ever-growing confidence in Phillips’ leading digital platform.


Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant Bacs & Russo and Alex Ghotbi, Head of Watches, Continental Europe and Middle East, jointly said: “In a near-lockdown situation, with a classic saleroom with phonebanks, online bidding and connections to remote salerooms in London, Hong Kong, Taipei and New York, but no in-room audience - it was the most unusual set-up we could not have imagined 12 months ago. Phillips’ ability to quickly adapt and innovate, alongside the huge amount of trust the watch community place in us, resulted in fireworks and numerous world records. It was a sale where any type of watch - vintage or contemporary, simple or complicated, sporty or dressy - was fiercely competed for - as long as the common denominator is the quality that Phillips is so proud of. Defying the various headwinds of the current global climate, Phillips continues to be the leading destination for fine watch collecting, the watch community continues to grow, and we have been incredibly humbled to welcome an unprecedented level of online participation. We also saw emerging new trends, alongside the habitual auction power players we have seen rising interest in watches from the 80’s to 2000’s, a period which saw the re-birth of mechanical watchmaking following the quartz crisis, as well as immense interest in the artisanal independent watchmaking that rose with the new millennium. Our next auction, the ‘Hong Kong Watch Auction: XI’ will take place on November 29, followed by our closing auction ‘Racing Pulse’ in New York on December 12.”


Exceptional watches by Patek Philippe take pride of place in the top ten, with the top three watches all surpassing their pre-sale high estimates and the US$ 1 million mark, including the new world record for the Ref. 2523/1 in rose gold with guilloché dial.


The extremely rare Ref. 3974 minute repeater with perpetual calendar in platinum from 2001 with opaline dial as well as a black dial with Breguet numerals, one of the world’s most sought-after watches, captivated bidders online, eventually selling for CHF 1,421,500. The present example is only the eighth known in platinum, and the overall production of platinum 3974 is thought to be less than a dozen examples. 


The spectacularly preserved, extremely rare and important perpetual calendar chronograph Patek Philippe Ref. 2499 second series from the collection of world renown scholar and collector John Goldberger, in yellow gold sold for CHF1,288,400.


As always, Rolex performed strongly. Notable results include a Rolex Ref. 6241yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with black "Paul Newman" dial and bracelet, “John Player Special”, that sold for CHF 780,200, and a Rolex, Ref. 8171 “Padellone” in stainless steel, a triple calendar wristwatch with moonphases that sold for CHF 730,800.





RETROSPECTIVE: 2000 - 2020

Sale Total: CHF 13,549,880/ $ 15,056,626/ €12,684,043


Lots Sold: 95 | Lots Offered: 95                                                             Sold by Lot: 100% | Sold by Value: 100%


The great momentum continued with RETROSPECTIVE: 2000 - 2020, a triumphant White Glove sale, realising a total of CHF 13.5 million against a pre-sale estimate of CHF 5.8 to 11 million, selling 100% by lot and 100% by value. A dynamic thematic sale curated by Phillips in collaboration with Blackbird, comprised of 95 watches from the finest watchmakers spanning the 20th and 21st centuries, the auction saw various new world records for models by independent makers.


Mr TK Mak, Founder and Chairman of Blackbird Automotive Group and Nicholas Biebuyck, Business Development Director of Blackbird Watch Manual, jointly said: “It is a pleasure to once again be so intimately involved in a pioneering white glove thematic auction, working alongside Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo. From concept and curation, to advising on the deftly produced documentary by the teams at Phillips and theWatches.tv, then finally delivering what we feel is a landmark catalogue, it has been immensely rewarding to be a part of this project. With a number of world records set during the course of the sale, it is proof of how important contemporary watchmaking is today, will no doubt be in the future, and it has been very enjoyable to tell the stories from the last 20 formative years for the industry.”


A true highlight of RETROSPECTIVE, and the first of its kind to come to the market, was the Philippe Dufour Simplicity 20th anniversary model, part of the first ever Limited Edition by the master, number 00 in a series of 20 timepieces. This exceptional watch sold after a fierce five-minute bidding war between several phone bidders for CHF1,361,000, more than tripling its pre-sale high estimate and setting a new world record for a Simplicity model and a Philippe Dufour timepiece.


Patek Philippe models performed incredibly well with another top lot of the sale, the Ref. 5531/1R, a possibly unique and very important pink gold minute repeating world time wristwatch with miniature cloisonné enamel dial, that sold for CHF 1,191,600.


F.P. Journe’s Sonnerie Souveraine model in stainless steel achieved CHF 680,400, whereas the Chronomètre à Resonance in platinum fetched more than four times its pre-sale high estimate selling for CHF 352,800.


Some very strong results include the sale of watches by independent watchmakers, with various models by Richard Mille flying well above their high estimates, led by the Richard Mille Ref. RM 038 “Bubba Watson” that sold for CHF 535,500.


And finally, the weekend saw strong results achieved for watches sold to benefit charities supporting children, including Audemars Piguet, Christophe Claret, Parmigiani Fleurier, Urwerk and Zenith’s Lupin the Third model that sold for CHF 189,000.







Please click here to download top ten images for The Geneva Watch Auction: XII

Please click here to download top ten images for RETROSPECTIVE: 2000 - 2020


Permission for the use of any image is granted for timely reporting and auction review purposes only.

Image courtesy of Phillips / Phillips.com



On the occasion of RETROSPECTIVE: 2000 - 2020, Phillips was proud to present the documentary film, A Moment in Time: Watchmaking at the Start of the 21st Century.





The team of specialists at Phillips Watches is dedicated to an uncompromised approach to quality, transparency, and client service, achieving a sale total of $111 million in 2019 – its third consecutive year as the worldwide market leader in watch auctions.

A selection of our recent record-breaking prices:

1.       Paul Newman’s Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona reference 6239 (CHF 17,709,894 / US$17,752,500) – New York Auction: Winning Icons – 26 October 2017 – ­­­Highest result ever achieved for any vintage wristwatch at auction.


2.      Patek Philippe reference 1518 in stainless steel (CHF 11,020,000 / US$11,112,020) – Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR – 12 November 2016 – Highest result ever achieved for a vintage Patek Philippe wristwatch at auction.



Phillips is a leading global platform for buying and selling 20th and 21st century art and design. With dedicated expertise in the areas of 20th Century and Contemporary Art, Design, Photographs, Editions, Watches, and Jewelry, Phillips offers professional services and advice on all aspects of collecting. Auctions and exhibitions are held at salerooms in New York, London, Geneva, and Hong Kong, while clients are further served through representative offices based throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Phillips also offers an online auction platform accessible anywhere in the world.  In addition to providing selling and buying opportunities through auction, Phillips brokers private sales and offers assistance with appraisals, valuations, and other financial services.


*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium; prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium.


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LONDON - Katie Carder, Head of Press, Europe        [email protected]                         +44 20 7901 7938


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