Quite Possibly The Largest Curated Assembly Of Vintage Patek Philippe Watches For Sale In History At Christie’s New York: It‘s An 11-Day Sale, But Don’t Dally!
If you are in New York this month (July 2017) the news is everywhere you look: the Patek Philippe Art of Watches Grand Exhibition opens on July 13, 2017 (see Bringing Patek Philippe’s Universe To New York City For 11 Days In July 2017 With The Art Of Watches Grand Exhibition). The Geneva-based brand is expecting at least 20,000 visitors to the two-story, ten-room spectacle it has built at Cipriani 42nd Street, ideally located near Grand Central Station.
The exhibition chronicles both the past and present of Patek Philippe as well as the history of horology.
While many thousands of visitors to the exhibition will be new(ish) to the world of fine watchmaking, after witnessing so much moving horological history many are likely to be hankering to acquire one of their very own Patek Philippe watches.
However, it’s usually not that easy to just walk into a boutique and buy that special Patek Philippe one has suddenly set one’s heart upon.
So what to do?
Christie’s has the answer: starting July 13, 2017 – the same day the Patek Philippe Grand Exhibition opens – Christie’s will be offering two ways to own your very own piece of Patek Philippe’s grand horological history.
For one, 85 watches ranging in price from $5,000 to $250,000 will offered in a special online sale.
For another, a special private sale will afford clients the opportunity to acquire more than 300 pre-owned or vintage specialties from pocket watches to beautiful, minty-fresh ladies watches, to the Reference 1518 once owned by King Farouk, to any number of perpetual calendars and double-sealed specialties.
The watches in the private sale range in price from $5,000 to more than $5 million and will be available for immediate purchase.
“The concept for the Christie’s exhibition is quite simple,” John Reardon, curator of the event and international head of watches at Christie’s told me during a private preview of the sale to be held at Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza location.
“With thousands of Patek Philippe collectors and enthusiasts converging on New York in July, it is the perfect time to celebrate all things Patek Philippe and offer the chance to see and purchase exceptional museum-quality watches. The demand for purchasing vintage watches is now higher than ever before, and this exhibition offers buyers the opportunity to own a piece of Patek Philippe’s history at all price points.”
The Christie’s online sale comprises a good mix of 85 Patek Philippe watches ranging in price from the relatively affordable to the very limited and rare.
The top lot of the online auction constitutes an impressive Patek Philippe Reference 2438 perpetual calendar with an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000.
Then there is the private sale, which constitutes watches for immediate purchase on-site. “All but approximately two dozen of the watches in our exhibition will be available for private sale,” Reardon continued, describing a range of timepieces that can be purchased immediately and without bidding like at normal retail.
The sale will also include more than 100 basic time-only watches, some even “entry-priced” for $5,000 and many priced under $20,000. Reardon suggested fans looking for “simple” wearers take a look at basic Patek Philippe Calatrava models from the 1940s or 1950s or even an original Gondolo pocket watch priced for less than $10,000.
Reardon is a big pocket watch fan, and for this reason he was particularly excited by being able to offer the Stephen Palmer Grand Complication No. 97912 from 1898, which Christie’s has once again procured for the sale. Christie’s originally sold this pocket watch in 2013 for more than $2 million.
“I have always wanted to see complete verticals of Patek Philippe watches presented in a way that one can see and compare the development of key complications,” Reardon explained in his infectiously enthusiastic way. “The ability to see firsthand a ‘family tree’ of Patek Philippe complicated watches is something that many only dream of seeing, but it will be finally be possible during our exhibition.”
Reardon explained to me that this has been his favorite part of curating this unique exhibition-cum-sale. For example, with the Patek Philippe chronographs visitors can see the twentieth-century development of the Reference 130 moving on to References 530, 533, 591, 1579, 1463, and the split-seconds 1436.
In terms of perpetual calendar chronographs, the exhibition boasts four Reference 1518s and a selection of four series of Reference 2499s.
The Christie’s Patek Philippe exhibition will also display calendars, starting with two examples of early triple calendar Reference 96s and moving on to the presentation of superlative examples of References 1526, 2497, 2438, 3448, and 3450.
The cherry on top – and certainly a major focal point – will be a display of the total production run of minute repeaters highlighted by seven early minute repeating wristwatches and nearly the entire run of modern discontinued minute repeaters, many with unique variants. These will not be for sale, but displayed for informational purposes only.
“Combined with special sections of Patek Philippe Lémania chronograph verticals, Advanced Research watches, Nautilus, Ellipse, Calatrava, and clocks, this exhibition has something to pique the interest of even the most jaded of collectors,” Reardon promises. “We even have a Patek Philippe singing bird box on offer!”
The 300 watches available for private sale originate from various sources around the world, many of which come from the original owners or families. “In a world where collectors dream of owning a fresh-to-market watch in as-found condition, the offerings of this sale will not disappoint,” Reardon promised.
“Some collectors and some families will not let go of their watches/heirlooms at any price, and I am forever grateful that we have had the honor of taking some pieces on loan that few people have ever seen before,” Reardon explained.
Most notably, and very excitingly, Christie’s will have James Ward Packard’s Patek Philippe walking stick and Patek Philippe ring watch on view for the very first time publicly.
The walking stick, which was described in Stacy Perman’s book, A Grand Complication, features a Patek Philippe watch embedded into the engine-turned silver knob with a movement that is engraved with Packard’s own name.
In addition to the early minute repeaters described above, other so-called unicorn watches on display, but not for sale, include a Patek Philippe two-tone Reverso wristwatch and a white gold Reference 3448 Senza Luna (a rarer-than-hen’s-teeth perpetual calendar lacking a moon phase indication) with a confirmed extract from Patek Philippe.
Aside from the obvious, Reardon’s goal in this Christie’s innovative exhibition-and-sale combination is to educate new collectors on the intricacies of assessing vintage watch condition, understanding the vintage watch market, and learning about how to collect vintage watches with focus on building collections.
A series of tours, lectures, and watchmaking classes will support the sale and exhibition, complementing the nearby Patek Philippe Grand Exhibition at Cipriani. RSVPs are necessary.
At 2:00 pm every day during the exhibition, Reardon will also personally give a gallery walk of the highlights. And, having just had this gallery walk tour myself, it is something I can highly recommend: Reardon, one of the nicest guys in the auction world, is also a walking encyclopedia of Patek Philippe knowledge.
For more information please visit www.christies.com/privatesales/2017/patek-philippe-vintage-watches.
Note that the online sale will only go live on July 13, 2017, more information is available then at www.christies.com/calendar.
Also published on Medium.