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Patek Philippe trumps Rolex on list of million dollar watches sold at auction

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Patek Philippe made no fewer than 13 out of the 22 watches that sold for more than CHF 1 million at auctions by Phillips, Christie’s and Sotheby’s last year. 

The highest price paid in 2020 was at the Geneva Watch Auction XII, where a Patek Philippe Ref. 2523/1 pink gold dual crown worldtime watch with guilloche dial (pictured top) sold for CHF 4,991,000 ($5.4m).

Rolex trailed far behind Patek Philippe with just four million-plus pieces in 2020 (all Daytonas), F. P. Journe made two for the millionaire club while Breguet, Heuer and Philippe Dufour were responsible for one piece each.

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Rolex’s highest placed watch was almost tied for first place last year when a 1980 Rolex Daytona Ref. 6263, gifted to Paul Newman by his wife Joanne who had engraved the case back, sold for $5,475,000.

Data compiled by Swiss consultant The Mercury Project found that the list of million Swiss franc pieces sold at auction last year had the same number of watches, 22, that made seven figures but the average price was significantly lower.

The total value of sales for millionaire watches dropped by almost half from CHF 80,782,381 in 2019 to CHF 42,020,939 in 2020.

Excluding the exceptional 2019 sale of the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime for CHF 31 million at the Only Watch charity auction, the drop in total sales from millionaire watches would have been only 15% lower.

2020 was much more impacted in the first half of the year, when fear of how the pandemic would play out was at its height.

Every watch selling for more than CHF 1 million went under the hammer from June onwards.

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