Christie’s Hong Kong is hoping that the top end of the vintage watch market wasn’t tapped out by last week’s Phillips auction in Geneva, which netted £7.7 million for the owner of a Patek Philippe 1518 – the highest price ever paid for a single watch.
That world record will most likely survive the Christie’s Important Watch Sale that takes place on November 26 in Hong Kong, but the auction house hopes to run it close with the sale of an incredibly rare bespoke Patek Philippe diamond timepiece with a triangular dial.
It is rare enough for Patek Philippe to create one-off pieces for clients, and the unique piece in the Hong Kong auction goes even further with its shape, and its transparent watch face cover, which is actually a portrait-cut diamond weighing 13.43 carats.
“It is incredibly rare for Patek Philippe to do special commissions, even for its most important customers,” explains Hong Kong watch specialist Nicholas Biebuyck, in an interview with Christie’s.
“To have a unique piece created with a crystal made of the third-largest known portrait diamond is really quite amazing. Unlike other unique pieces, it stands out not simply because of a new dial colour or because it has a different set of hands. This watch has a whole new case design,” he describes.
The watch was actually built to fit the diamond, rather than the other way round. It was presented to Patek Philippe in 1990 with the client asking for it to be incorporated into a timepiece.
“For a serious collector it represents a potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Biebuyck. “It is chance not only to add one of a handful of truly unique modern Patek Philippe watches to a collection, but also an opportunity to acquire an exceptionally large, rare and important portrait diamond.”
The watch, which has an 18ct white gold case and bracelet is signed Patek Philippe, Geneve, Ref. 3843/1, Movement No. 1’373’554, Case No. 2’914’662, Manufactured In 1991.
It has a pre-sale estimate of HK$2,800,000-4,800,000 (£290,000-£500,000).