Believe the hype: Christie’s Auction of the Decade smashed records to net $34m Believe the hype: Christie’s Auction of the Decade smashed records to net $34m

Believe the hype: Christie’s Auction of the Decade smashed records to net $34m

Thor Svaboe

When Christie’s described The Legends of Time event in Hong Kong last weekend as “the auction of the decade,” they certainly talked it up. But it turns out that confidence wasn’t misplaced.  The auction achieved no fewer than 10 world record sales with the total tally coming to $34,850,855 USD – the best-ever result for a watch auction in Asia.

Auction of the Decade

In spite of strong attendance from 14 countries, 80% of the total sales value lay with Asian buyers. “Today marked a monumental chapter in watch auction history as our two live sales combined fetched the highest ever sale total for a various-owner watches auction at Christie’s worldwide, setting a new benchmark for the category,” said Vice-President and Head of Watches Christie’s Asia Pacific, Alexandre Bigler. “Over 50,000 viewers tuned into our auction pre-show conversation with historian, author and watch expert Nick Foulkes, followed by The Legends of Time.

Top lots for the record books

Auction of the Decade

As predicted in our preview story, the top lot was the unique Patek Philippe Ref.3448 ”Alan Banbery”, the 18K gold self-winding perpetual calendar wristwatch realising $3.76 million USD, a solid auction record for the reference. 

Auction of the Decade

In terms of beating the estimates, the best performing Patek, however, was my personal favorite, a clean and very rare black enamel dialled Ref.2526 manufactured in 1957. This understated 18K pink gold timepiece proves that while provenance and exceptional complications may attract the top buyers,  rarity and understated elegance can still ignite the room. Not billed as one of the top lots, this perfect rendition of a late fifties dress watch achieved more than double its high estimate, ending at $679,474 USD


For me, and interestingly for a month where we have seen a couple of stories on pocket watches in the watch media (including my own here), this oft-forgotten category might just be making a dynamic comeback. The frankly delectable Piguet & Meylan 18K quarter repeating enamel pocket watch made for the Chinese market, had an objective low estimate of $103,539, and took off like a turquoise and pearl-set rocket, more than quintupling the estimate at an exceptionally strong $550,050 USD.

The only Patek to smash its estimate was also a pocket watch, the unique 18K pink-gold, open-face minute repeating, two train grande and petite sonnerie keyless lever clockwatch with instantaneous perpetual calendar. That went for $1.8 million USD, a full 3.5 times its estimate. Has the time for a pocket watch renaissance arrived in 2021?

For more results, have a closer look at the catalogue here.