Rolex and Patek nuked by Atomic clock from Urwerk at New York Game Changers auction

Atomic Master Clock

It was another huge auction for Rolex and Patek Philippe, but they were overshadowed for once by an independent watchmaker as an Urwerk Atomic Mechanical Control timepiece sold for $2.9 million at this week’s Game Changers sale at Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo.

Urwerk devoted 10 years of research and development to create the Atomic Mechanical Control, and it is considered one of the most important horological pieces of recent years.

The clock comes with a companion Urwerk wristwatch (pictured below).

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The New York auction sold every watch, netting a total of $20,169,875. It was the first time that a US auction has ever sold five watches for more than $1 million.

Demand for desirable Rolex and Patek Philippe models shows no sign of cooling. Rather, it is getting even hotter, with several  several world auction records set including for a Rolex GMT-Master, a Rolex Day-Date, a Patek Philippe Reference 1518 in pink gold, and a second series Patek Philippe Reference 2499 in yellow gold.

Watches with famous owners grabbed headlines. A Rolex Day-Date Ref. 1803 owned by legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus sold for $1.22 million. 100% of the sale proceeds will directly benefit the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation.

A Rolex GMT Master owned by Marlon Brando sold for $1.952 million, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Brando Fischer Foundation.

Top 10 hammer prices:

(descriptions by Phillips):


URWERK. A unique, extremely rare, and historically innovative Atomic Master Clock with paired titanium wristwatch with power reserve and oil change indicator, with certificate of origin. Sold for $2.9 million.


PATEK PHILIPPE. Ref. 1518, A previously unknown, extremely rare, and highly attractive pink gold perpetual chronograph wristwatch with pink dial and moon phase. Sold for $2.3 million.


PATEK PHILIPPE. Ref. 2499, A possibly unique, previously unknown, and extremely well-preserved yellow gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phase, retailed by Gübelin. Sold for $2.024m.


Rolex GMT-Master, Ref. 1675,An iconic, historically important, and remarkably well-preserved stainless steel dual-time wristwatch with date and worn by Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. Sold for $1.95m.


Rolex Day-Date, Ref. 1803, A fine and culturally significant yellow gold wristwatch with day, date and bracelet, sold to benefit the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, from the personal collection of Jack Nicklaus. Sold for $1.22 million.


Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, Ref. 6264, An extraordinarily rare, extremely attractive, and important yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with “Paul Newman Lemon” dial and service guarantee. Sold for $884,000.


Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, Ref. 6241, A very fine, well-preserved, and highly attractive yellow gold chronograph wristwatch with “Paul Newman” dial and original guarantee. Sold for $758,000.


Rolex Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665, A very rare, well preserved and historically important stainless steel wristwatch with date and bracelet, with original guarantee, box made for the Sultan of Oman, from the son of the original owner, including a hand-written letter on the history of the watch and related provenance material. Sold for $462,500.


Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6263, A rare, extremely well-preserved, and highly attractive stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with “Paul Newman” dial and bracelet. Sold for $425,000.


Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1P-010, An important and extremely rare platinum automatic wristwatch with seconds, date, bracelet, and Certificate of Origin. Sold for $356,250.


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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder