After more than two years of pandemic lull, the auction industry is bouncing back from the crisis to pre-pandemic levels – if not better. In fact, 2022 has been a stellar auction year where numerous records were set. As we ring in the new year, let's look back on the "best of 2022" in the auction world.
As the lava-hot market for watches began to cool down last year, only timepieces with true collector's value survived. Against such a sluggish market, Sotheby's Watches reached the highest single-season figure in Asia during its Spring Sales, speared by a Patek Philippe second-series pink gold reference 2499, which sold for HK$60.3 million (US$7.7 million) to set a new auction record for the model.
Patek Philippe | Reference 2499, 2nd Series, Pink gold perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch with moon phases (Auction record for a Patek Philippe Reference 2499)
Retailed by Gobbi Milano
Made in 1957
Auction House: Sotheby's Hong Kong
Auction Date: 25 April 2022
Estimate: HK$24,000,000 - 48,000,000
Sold: HK$60,265,000 (US$7.7 million)
A Patek Philippe reference 2499 is considered a holy grail among timepiece connoisseurs — it combines all the elements that attract to watch collectors in one case: striking technical complexity, exceptional aesthetical appeal, and most importantly, a legendary level of rarity.
Produced from 1950 until 1985, only 349 pieces of reference 2499 were made, an average of only nine per year. During its short 35-year production run, it underwent four major evolutions, with each series defined by a different production period, case and dial details.
Among them, the second series, manufactured between 1955 to 1974 with round chronograph pushers, is the most coveted.
The dial is signed by retailer Gobbi Milano
Italian retailer Gobbi Milano
While the vast majority of second-series reference 2499 were cased in yellow gold, pink gold versions are extremely rare, with only nine examples known, including the present lot. But what makes this particular wristwatch stands out is the dial details — it is the only one of these known to be double-signed with both Patek Philippe's signature and that of the prestigious Milan retailer Gobbi.
Founded in 1842, Gobbi Milano is a leader in Italy in the sales of luxury timepieces and has been in business for more than six generations. A business run by a love for horology, Gobbi had attained such an early success that just a decade after its opening, in 1852, the Grand Duke of Modena bestowed the title of "Royal Watchmaker".
The present watch last appeared at public auction in 2007, when it fetched CHF2.7 million at Christie's in Geneva, setting the then auction record for a reference 2499.
Fifteen years later, this one-of-a-kind wristwatch was put up for sale at Sotheby's Hong Kong. In the white glove sale, The Nevadian Collector, it was offered with an opening bid of HK$18 million. Following an intense back-and-forth bidding that lasted for six minutes, this top lot soared to a hammer price of HK$50 million, selling for HK$60.3 million (US$7.7 million) with fees to beat the previous auction record by almost twofold.
First-series Ref. 2499 in yellow gold, retailed by Asprey of London | Sold: CHF 3.91 million, 2018
The previous record holder was a first-series 2499 in yellow gold, and the only known example with a dial signed by Asprey of London. Back in 2018, the watch commanded a price of CHF 3.92 million (around US$3.88 million), going to the Nevadian collector who consigned the present record-breaking piece to Sotheby's.
An active collector over the past three decades, he is particularly fond of vintage Patek Philippe. At once encompassing over 400 pieces comprising almost every reference of the brand, he has historically favoured perpetual calendar chronographs, amassing 18 Patek Philippe reference 2499 and 15 reference 1518, at the peak of his collecting career.