Christie’s Hong Kong is claiming to be the first auctioneer in the world to sell an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon at what it is calling its Marvel(ous) online sale running from today (August 24) until September 7.
The watch was launched as a 250-piece limited edition in April this year priced at CHF 150,000 (around $165,000) and the brand reserved one of the watches for charity. It sold for $5.2 million.
Christie’s has given the watch an estimate of $380,000 to $650,000, a potential 400% profit for whoever is consigning the piece.
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon was launched with the sort of fanfare normally reserved for Hollywood premiers, with comedian Kevin Hart and Audemars Piguet CEO François-Henry Bennahmias hosting a live(ish) event in Los Angeles with stars including LeBron James, Serena Williams, Ian Poulter, Anthony Joshua, Lu Han, Jon Gray and Mark Ronson in attendance over video links.
Nothing about this watch launch is aimed at the traditional (older) buyer for high five-figure watches, and that could prove to be a smart long term play with so much wealth creation now in the hands of tech billionaires who grew up immersed in cinematic universes like Marvel’s.
Christie’s has benefited from launching high frequency online auctions at the height of the pandemic last year, and is capitalizing now on the wider audience it attracted to become the world leader by value of watches sold.
Christie’s H1 sales of CHF 84.5 million ($92.6m) was almost double the value of watches sold in the first half of 2019, causing it to leapfrog Phillips to become the biggest auctioneer for timepieces in the world.
Christie’s operated 18 events in the first six months of 2021, of which 14 were online, a model that is attracting a new cohort of younger watch collectors who are the ideal target demographic for the Black Panther piece.
“Following our strong first half, we are thrilled to kick off the second half of the year with a stunning online sale spanning vintage and contemporary, including the famous Audemars Piguet ‘Marvel Black Panther’. This particular example of the Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon, Lot 46, is the first to be offered for sale at auction, a fantastic opportunity many collectors will no doubt relish,” says Alexandre Bigler, vice president and head of watches at Christie’s Asia Pacific.
“A one-off version of the same model, created to raise funds for two charities, First Book and Ashoka, sold for US$ 5.2 million, making it the most expensive Audemars Piguet model ever sold. Inevitably, the sale of this unique timepiece has heightened the desirability of the “Black Panther” of which only 250 were made and all sold,” Mr Bigler describes.