We got it dead wrong. So, which colour Rolex OP 36 2020 models sold for the highest price at the recent Phillips Hong Kong Watch Auction?Zach Blass
Last week, Phillips held their latest watch auction in Hong Kong: the Phillips Hong Kong Watch Auction XI. As per usual, there were some very neat, rare, and illustrious lots that collectors would salivate over – eager to add such fine timepieces to their collections. While the globe may have taken a beating this year from the pandemic, it is clear that top-tier collectors and buyers are still eager to acquire fine watches for top-dollar hammer prices. This auction, however, had an unexpected assembly of new watches.
Each of the new colours within the 2020 Stella-inspired Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 models were up for grabs – a fact that has invoked the ire of many on our, and Rolex’s, social media platforms. It is rather sad that consumers, myself included, can’t find one of these watches at retail and yet all of them were together in one auction for purchase.
This inaccessibility has been the elephant in the room of the watch industry for a couple of years, but never like what we’ve seen in 2020, and we had to cover it in more detail in the 2020 edition of NOW Magazine (you can buy it and read the 3000 word feature here). Will Rolex increase supply so normal people can buy their watches? Is there a strategy behind the shortage? We dig deeper into the issue.
Interestingly in this Phillips auction, however, the models we thought would do best were not necessarily in line with the final results. Let’s take a look at how these new entry Rolex models fared in their auction debut and see which colour dials commanded the highest premiums over retail (the retail price for all models is $7850 AUD). But before we do, please enjoy this stunning illustration from the magazine by Tamsin Ainslie, which sums things up rather well.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 “Green”
Our front-runner shockingly finished dead last. If the Kermit, Cermit, and recently discontinued Hulk have taught us anything it’s that green steel Rolex models typically do really well. Even the gold green dial Daytona is faring very well on the open market. But at this particular moment and auction, buyers shunned the green lacquer dial. Is it possibly because the prospective buyers already had enough green Rolex within their collections? Has it hit its saturation point? To be fair, it may have gotten the least premium over retail in this auction within the group of OP 36 models, but it still went well over retail. Final Hammer Price in AUD: $15,329
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 “Turquoise”
Another wrench in our initial predictions, the model we felt would stand beside green as the strongest seller was the turquoise. Also referred to as the “Tiffany Blue”, we really thought this was in the running to take the highest premium. This year has undoubtedly been the year of the blue dial, and the Tiffany shade of blue has always attracted the eyes of collectors of all genders. Are the green and turquoise possibly the most produced of the five? Do auction buyers not want it because they already have it? I struggle to find a reason why the turquoise did not attract the most attention here. At the same time, gotta give props to the buyers who shook up the norm – defying expectations and becoming more playful with their collection adds. Final Hammer Price in AUD: $16,424
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 “Candy Pink”
This dial is just batshit insane, especially on a Rolex – and that’s why I love it, and want it for my own collection. This bubblegum or cotton candy pink dial is borderline offensive, and would make the most traditional of Rolex watch collectors scream WTF!!! But that’s what kind of makes it awesome, no? It is unexpected, loud, but can be tamed with the right wardrobe. With a white or sky blue dress shirt, I see this watch as a perfect fit, and clearly auction buyers agree because it tied for 1st place in price and premium alongside the Coral Red and Yellow models. Final Hammer Price in AUD: $18,613
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 “Coral Red”
This is where things start to get even more interesting. What I personally found to be the least attractive of the bunch (although I know Mr Nick Kenyon would vehemently disagree with me), stood among the top three. In fairness, the Coral Red is a complete departure from Rolex dials we have come to expect. For a collector with a rather vanilla Rolex collection, this would arguably be the perfect cherry on top to shake things up. Final Hammer Price in AUD: $18,613
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 “Yellow”
One of my personal favourites, especially when I saw Eric Ku post a shot of the watch in the metal on his Instagram, the yellow Rolex OP 36 warms my heart and brings a new face to Rolex that I really like. As a New Yorker, some may accuse me of seeing a taxi in its dial – but that is not what this mustard yellow brings to mind when I see it, I can assure you. What I like is the unexpected nature of the colour within the brand, at least not expected for decades now. It is in my opinion a safer departure dial with flair than the Coral Red, without being too safe and boring. Final Hammer Price in AUD: $18,613