Rare Patek Phillipe wristwatch sells for $11 million, breaks auction records

Story highlights

  • A rare, stainless steel Patek Philippe reference 1518 wristwatch broke auction records over the weekend
  • The 1943 watch sold for just over $11 million, more than triple the initial sale price estimate

(CNN)A rare, stainless steel Patek Philippe Reference 1518 wristwatch sold for just over $11 million at the weekend (CHF 11,002,000), making it the most expensive wristwatch ever to be sold at auction.

The price was reached after a 13 minute bidding war at the Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR sale in Geneva, Switzerland and was more than triple the initial pre-sale estimate.
    "One thing that is fascinating about this sale is that there were eight bidders bidding for this watch and it wasn't until the price reached CHF 7 million that two remaining buyers started to battle to secure the sale," said Sam Hines, the international head of watches at Phillips auction house.
    "This watch really ticked every box the trophy collectors are looking for. It was fresh to the market, there are only four known examples and it was in perfect condition," he says.
    Hines added that the buyer of the record-breaking watch wished to remain anonymous.

    The 'Rolls-Royce' of watches

    The Patek Philippe Reference 1518 perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch was made in 1943, and includes features such as a moonphase indicator, Arabic hour markers and a tachymeter scale.
    Prior to this sale, the most expensive watch ever to have sold at auction was also from Patek Philippe -- a Reference 5016 in stainless steel -- which sold at a Phillips auction last year for more than $7.3 million (CHF 7.3 million), according to Hines.
    "I think Patek Philippe is considered a blue chip brand and one of the most important watch makers in the world. They have had uninterrupted production since 1839, they make very few watches every year, and it's just considered the very best, like a Rolls-Royce," he said.
    "It shows the recent growth of the watch market, and also has to do with the growth of the trophy market over the last year or so where people want the very best in terms of quality and condition and are willing to pay the very best to secure it."
    The results of the sale reflected this demand, and the British auction house sold a total of 177 watches at the auction and realized nearly $27.8 million (CHF 27,514,625).
    See the sale's top ten lots in the gallery above.