Auctioneer Phillips has almost doubled the total value of watches it has sold in 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019.
Now upgraded to an autonomous business unit within the wider auction group, Phillips Watches sold lots valued at $209.3 million this year, a 57% increase from 2020 and 89% from 2019.
It sold 27 timepieces for more than $1 million, more than any other auctioneer in history in a single year.
There were more than 10,000 online registrations for Phillips Watches auctions, and the total value of watches sold to online bidders in 2021 was close to $75 million, a 70% increase from 2020.
Aurel Bacs, senior consultant of Phillips suggests the pandemic years have transformed the watch collecting market.
“The watch auction market has grown exponentially, and we have seen a massive increase in the number of participants in global sales this year. Watches were a niche collecting field when I started my career in the auction industry, and in 2021 it has become an important and established collecting category alongside fine art, design, vintage and collectors motor cars, jewellery, and fine wine,” he says.
Patek Philippe made half of the top 10 most expensive watches sold, but independent watchmakers also emerged as auction darlins with Philippe Dufour and F. P. Journe taking two slots each in the end of year ranking.
Rolex did not have a single watch in the top 10, but Omega did make the list with a tropical dialed Speedmaster bought for a world record $3.4 million by Omega’s museum.
Top 10 lots sold by Phillips Watches in 2021
1PATEK PHILIPPE, Ref. 2523, yellow gold world-time wristwatch with two crowns and “Eurasia” cloisonné enamel dial
World record $7,819,051 paid for a Patek Philippe cloisonné enamel dial wristwatch & a world record for a yellow gold wristwatch sold at auction.
2PATEK PHILIPPE, Ref. 5711/1A-018 stainless steel wristwatch with “Tiffany Blue” lacquer dial, date and bracelet, with certificate of origin and presentation box, with proceeds benefitting The Nature Conservancy. World record $6,503,500 paid for a Patek Philippe Nautilus.
3PHILIPPE DUFOUR, Grande et Petite Sonnerie #1, two-train minute repeating grande and petite sonnerie wristwatch with hinged case in yellow gold and enamel dial bearing movement number 1
Word record $5,182,109 padi for a Philippe Dufour watch ever at auction and a watch by any Independent Watchmaker.
4F.P. JOURNE, Chronomètre à résonance “Souscription” n°1, platinum and pink gold dual time wristwatch with resonating escapements, number 1 of a 20 pieces subscription series
Word record $4,257,862 for the model paid.
5PHILIPPE DUFOUR, Duality N°8, pink gold wristwatch with double escapement, certificate and fitted presentation box. One of three made.
Word record $3,993,792 paid for the model.
6PATEK PHILIPPE Ref. 2499 first series, yellow gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with retailer-signed bracelet, retailed by Serpico y Laino. Sold for $3,861,757.
7F.P. JOURNE, Tourbillon Souverain à remontoir d’égalité “Souscription” n°1, platinum tourbillon wristwatch with remontoir d’égalité, number 1 of a 20 pieces subscription series.
Word record $3,861,757 for the model paid.
8PATEK PHILIPPE, Ref. 570, stainless steel wristwatch with two-tone dial and Breguet numerals.
World record $3,657,692 paid for this reference and any stainless steel wristwatch without complications.
9OMEGA, Ref. 2915-1 “Tropical Broad Arrow”, stainless steel Speedmaster chronograph wristwatch with Broad Arrow hands and chocolate brown “tropical” dial.
World record $3,399,633 paid for any Omega ever sold at auction.
10PATEK PHILIPPE, Ref. 2497 “The Exceptional White”, white gold perpetual calendar wristwatch with center seconds, moonphases and original bracelet.
World record $3,069,545 price paid for the model in white gold.