Hong Kong’s thirst at watch auctions is, no doubt, split down the middle with equal interest in vintage and contemporary. This is evident in the way the auction houses assemble their catalogs here. Thereafter, this is further fortified by the market’s response for the variety offered.

However, it is important to be aware that the crowd in the room is by no means an all local one. Plenty of prominent dealers were present, who aren’t from the region. And not forgetting the countless phone calls coming in throughout the sale duration, from as far off as California.

Perhaps another thing that becomes quite apparent from being in an auction room, is that the aggression from buyers online and on the phones, cannot be denied. This maybe explains why the room itself isn’t exactly bursting at the seams even with the pace at which bids are placed and lots hammered.

Curious enough, speaking to Nicholas Biebuyck, of Christie’s, at the end of the sale, he shared that there are even buyers in the room who prefer to have their bids taken over the phone rather than themselves hold a paddle.

So yes, as publicly as these sales are made and how much more publicly the pre-sale show and tell campaigns are run, the bidders and buyers do still appreciate the utmost discretion. And are today taking advantage of the technology available to them to remain discreet. Makes you wonder how many people must be tuning in to the live broadcasts of the sales online and what would happen if these broadcasts were turned into pay-per-view events, complete with ring side commentary.

But, back to the lots and the top five performers.

Atmosphere at the Christie's May 2017 Hong Kong sale
The Christie's team in Hong Kong
Sale of lot 2387, the 5002P Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon

Top 5 Performers

Unsurprisingly, at the top of the rung is lot 2387, the 5002P Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon: A double-dial watch with twelve complications, which include a “cathedral” minute repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar with retrograde date, sky chart, moon phases, orbit display and sidereal time. Even Thomas Perazzi, who presented the lot from the podium, referred to the watch as their big highlight, creating a furrow in the room and making the photographers all stand at attention. Estimated to go for USD1,031,638 – USD1,289,547, the price realized was: USD1,137,380. Right smack in the center of expectations. Now remember that this is reference that was introduced only in 2001.

Second in line is the stuff of vintage Rolex guys’ wet dreams: Lot 2447, the Mk1 6263 Paul Newman Daytona. Estimated to go for USD193,432 – USD386,864, the watch hammered for USD518,398. A good 30% above the upper estimate. And now, here’s a watch that’s from the early 70s; 1971 to be exact.

Third on the list is lot 2276, a ref. 5074 Patek Philippe automatic minute repeating perpetual calendar with moon phases, 24 hour and leap year indication. Again, this one’s from the early 2000s: 2002 actually. Estimated to go for USD399,760 – USD593,192, the price realized was: USD495,186.

Fourth then, was possibly the latest watch to grace the top five list. Lot 2299, a Richard Mille RM018 tourbillon watch with wheels made out of a sort of pink colored hard stone. You could say that the watch’s performance is subject, because it is a piece unique version of the RM018 made in 2008 for Boucheron, in celebration of their 150th anniversary. Price realized falls in the middle of the estimate one more time at USD425,551. The estimate was: USD322,387 – USD515,819.

Fifth and final one to mention here is a name not terribly common to top performers at auctions. Lot 2454 was an A. Lange & Söhne, Tourbograph Pour Le Mérite unveiled by the maison in 2005, in commemorating their 15th anniversary of having been re-established by the late Walter Lange, in 1994. While the watch represents something really specially in the life of A. Lange & Söhne, it represents an important landmark in the realms of watchmaking because it was the first time a solitary watch had been crafted with a fusée-and-chain transmission, a tourbillon, and a rattrapante chronograph. The watch was estimated to go for USD212,775 – USD412,655 and hammered for USD332,703.

Check out the complete sale performance here.

Thomas Perazzi
Lot 2387, the 5002P Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon
Ref. 5074 Patek Philippe automatic minute repeating perpetual calendar with moon phases, 24 hour and leap year indication
Lot 2299, a Richard Mille RM018 tourbillon piece unique for Boucheron
Lot 2454, an A. Lange & Söhne, Tourbograph Pour Le Mérite
Lot 2447, the Mk1 6263 Paul Newman Daytona

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